Sensory Memory
Iconic Memory -- Full and Partial Report Procedures

In this activity, you will participate in iconic memory tests similar to those used by Sperling.

For this activity, you will need to use a computer that can play sounds (the computers in the WE 208 psychology lab do not have speakers, so you'll need to find a different computer). Also, before you begin, have a sheet of paper and a pencil or pen ready. You'll be viewing displays and recording your responses.

Before you begin

  1. Read all of these instructions before you go to the activity.
  2. The link on this page will take you to a PowerPoint show presentation. If a choice box appears, select "Run" or "Open."
  3. The show should open up in full screen mode, but if it does not (i.e., if it opens up in PowerPoint edit/viewer mode), then click on the "Slide Show" tab at the top of the PowerPoint screen and select "From Beginning" to open the show in full screen.
  4. This presentation includes screens with information about the techniques, screens with instructions for the tasks, and presentation screens. Please read the information and instruction screens carefully. They provide valuable information.
  5. To advance in this activity, click the mouse unless otherwise indicated.
  6. Unlike in the laboratory, where distance, visual angle, and display time can be tightly controlled, this demonstration will have some variability in it. To try to standardize distance and visual angle of the display, sit about 4 feet away from the computer monitor. Sit up straight and look directly at the center of the screen prior to and during each display. You need to do this activity in a quiet place without distractions.

Whole Report: Data collection and scoring

  1. The first part of the demonstration describes and then demonstrates the whole report technique. Read the information carefully. To advance through the instruction screens, click the mouse.
  2. After the samples, the activity instructions will appear. Have your sheet of paper ready. You will see 10 different arrays consisting of 3 rows of 4 letters each. Your task, after an array has appeared, it to write down all 12 letters in the array in their correct positions (like the sample on p. 155 in your textbook). You must write down 12 letters on your response sheet. Guess if you are not certain. The same letter may appear in more than one location in the same array.
  3. Click to see the first display. A fixation cross ( + ) will appear in the center of the screen. Focus on it (it's designed to keep your eyes in the middle of the display). Then the first display will flash briefly on the screen.
  4. After you've written down your recall for the final display, the next slide will tell you how to score your responses. Score your recalls according to the instructions.

Partial Report: Data collection and scoring

  1. Now, you'll go on to the partial report procedure. Read the information and instruction screens carefully. Be sure to first listen to the sample tones on the information page with the tone buttons. Before you start the tasks, listen to each sample tone at least 3 or 4 times in different orders to make sure you clearly discriminate between the high (top row), medium (middle row), and low (bottom) row pitches/signals.
  2. After the first display, record the 4 letters from the signaled row in their correct positions. Guess if necessary. You must write down 4 letters. Also, the same letter may appear more than once in the same row of a display. After you've recorded the 4 letters from the signaled row, click for the next display.
  3. After you record your recall of the last display, click for the slide that gives you the scoring instructions. Score your recalls according to the instructions. Remember, a letter must be from the signaled row and in the correct position to be correct.
  4. The next screen gives you some additional information on Sperling's partial report results. Read that part, too.

Lab Report
The remainder of this assignment involves writing up a lab report of your results. Your report will be about 3-5 pages long and roughly follow APA style with a brief Introduction, a statement of the Hypotheses being tested, a Method section, a Results section, and a Discussion section. Each section must have the appropriate heading. The report must be typed.

  1. First, provide an Introduction, giving the reader a theoretical context for the phenomena under study. Briefly summarize, define, and describe (in your own words) the concepts being investigated in this activity.
  2. The next section is the Hypothesis, which states in your own words the hypothesis (or hypotheses) being tested in this experiment. State the hypothesis in terms of the predicted or expected outcome(s). For this activity, your hypothesis should focus on the predicted level of memory performance for whole vs. partial report (do not predict specific numbers in your hypothesis; just predict which procedure should show the better overall recall score).
  3. Next, describe the Method that you used. Even though this is not an APA-style paper, use your experience with reading and writing method sections in research papers to help you here. Describe the materials and methods (step-by-step) so that a reader who had never seen the demo module could still clearly imagine exactly what it looked like and what you did.
  4. Next, write a Results section and talk about what you found. This section includes both narrative text and a graph, and you must refer to the graph by name (i.e., Figure 1) in the text. You cannot include graphs in an APA-style manuscript if you do not mention them in the text, too.
  5. Finally, write a Discussion section. In this section, you'll talk about how your results relate to previous study of the phenomena, including if the hypotheses were supported and address all of the following issues (write the section as a coherent narrative, not as a list of answers to questions):
    1. Discuss your experiences with the iconic memory displays. What was it like to view and try to recall the letters in each procedure? (Participating in this demonstration gives us an appreciation for just how difficult this iconic memory task is).
    2. Compare your performance scores under the two conditions. Do you notice any difference? Discuss those differences and why they occurred according to the theory of iconic memory.
  6. Turn in your recall sheet and scoring calculations along with your lab report.

Go to the Iconic Memory activity