6 December 2014
What’s in your peripheral vision?
This memory experiment is a type of short-term memory experiment testing the idea of selective attention. Short term memory (STM) is an activated memory that holds a few items briefly (20-30 seconds). Mostly, short term memory is essential for moments when information is needed for immediate and subsequent events. These events can include remembering a phone number for a brief time before it must be recorded or else it is forgotten. The average amount of information that can be held in short term memory is 7±2 elements. Thus, it is known as "the brain's Post-it-note" in that it is constantly in a ready-state for new information. Selective attention is the act of focusing on a particular object for a period of time, while simultaneously ignoring irrelevant information that is also occurring. Coupled with short-term memory, it makes it difficult for the individual to recall information that surrounds his or her main focus.
In order to effectively examine the quick loss of visual information shortly after it is presented due to selective attention, this study will include a visual stimulus of which, while engaged in a different activity, the subjects must accurately recall its characteristics. The subjects are divided into two groups, seniors and juniors. The different activity will be another “fake memory experiment” in which the subjects are asked to memorize numbers appearing on the screen for a brief moment of time. Meanwhile, the visual stimulus in the “real experiment”, a volunteer from Mr. Brammer’s class comes into our class to give Mr. Gilleland a "fake" note and then walks back out.
The individual will only be presented to the class for a few seconds; therefore, it involves the short-term memories of the experimental group. Additionally, the group will be involved in a different task as the stimulus is presented, to which the subjects are selectively paying attention. We will formulate questions phrased in this manner, “Was he wearing a green shirt?” to where the answer must be a yes/no recall and handout these questions (asking them to keep it faced-down) before the “fake experiment starts”. After the “fake experiment” ends, the subjects will turn over the page and “guess” on the questions.
The results will be collected by analyzing the answers produced by the subjects. One target question will be “The person who enter the room, they were wearing a red shirt?” Based on the number of individuals within the senior group compared to the number of individuals in the junior group who answer the question correctly, we can examine whether the principle of selective attention worked or not at different ages.
Selective attention includes the memories that we can easily recall. What we are focused on is generally what we will most likely remember later. The minute details that occur peripherally are less likely to be remembered. Although, by tracing back, we can eventually recall these details, they are not in our working and active memory and are thus, most likely forgotten. In the same manner, the individual was seen by both groups because they did realize his appearance into the class when answering the questions. They forgot about him, however, because at the moment, their working minds were actively storing the short-term information displayed on the screen. Due to more observation practice, the senior group is most likely to answer correctly due to being less selectively attentive towards the screen.
The experiment was conducted on eight people. This number is low because of the lack of attendance at school from students before Thanksgiving break. The senior group was made up of three individuals and the juniors were made up of five. There was a total of five questions asked to each individual. Their percentage correct was calculated by dividing the number they answered correctly by the total number of questions and then multiplying by 100.