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Echoic Memory

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Echoic Memory

Echoic Memory, the auditory version of sensory memory, refers to the phenomenon in which there is a brief mental echo that continues to sound after auditory stimuli has been heard. In comparison to sensory and iconic memory, echoic memory is thought to last a little longer, for upwards of about three or four seconds. Due to its short span, echoic memory is a type of short term memory as the echoic memories are temporal and last only for a brief period of time. A simple example of working echoic memory is having a friend recite a list of numbers, and then suddenly stopping, asking you to repeat the last four numbers. To try to find the answer to the question, you have to “replay” the numbers back to yourself in your mind as you heard them. Since Echoic memory lasts for a few seconds, if there was no pause between the time your friend stopped reciting the list to the time where he asked you to repeat the last digits, then your echoic memory would be able to pick up the last few numbers and recite them back quite accurately. However, if there was a pause between the time he stopped counting to the time he asked you to repeat the numbers, your recall would not be as high because the numbers have left your echoic memory (Brown, 2001). Echoic memory has been studied in patients that suffer from schizophrenia. When given two different sound tones, schizophrenic patients were unable to match two tones after a very short delay time (300 milliseconds) but were able to correctly match when there was no delay between the tones. This showed that schizophrenia affects the brain regions which control echoic memory outside the prefrontal cortex (Strous et al., 1995).

Echoic memory can be expanded if it is repeated in the phonological loop which rehearses verbal information in order to keep it in short term memory. In this case, if your friend was giving you his phone number, you would be mentally repeating it to yourself, a sort of “inner voice.” Then, if he stopped reciting the numbers and asked for you to recite them, there would be a more probable chance that you could correctly recite all the numbers, despite if there was a slight pause or not (Bogen, 2006).

Experimental Evidence

In studies conducted by N. Cowan, he noted that there is evidence that echoic memory is involved in auditory attention, as well as finding evidence for two separate systems (Cowan 1984), which strengthened Baddeley’s proposal, and his model of working memory (Baddeley 1978). This idea was then expanded by Ben Weedon and Zofia Kaminska who studied echoic memory’s role in auditory attention and found that echoic memory can play a significant role in models of auditory attention after noting that attentional capacity was 3 auditory streams when echoic memory was able to contribute to memory performance (Weeden & Kaminska, 1999).


  • Baddeley, A. D. and Hitch, G. J. (1974). Working Memory in G.H. Bower (Ed.) the Psychology of Learning and Motivation. (Vol. 8). London: Academic Press.
  • Bogen, D (2006).Towards an artificial phonological loop: An assistive device for working memory and attentional control. Applied Bionics and Biomechanics. 3, 9-21.
  • Cowan, N. (1984). On Short And Long Auditory Stores. Psychological

Bulletin. 96 (2), 341- 370.

  • Strous, R.D. et al. (1999).Auditory sensory ("echoic") memory dysfunction in schizophrenia. American Psychiatric Association. 152, 1517-1519.

Types of memory
Articulatory suppression‎ | Auditory memory | Autobiographical memory | Collective memory | Early memories | Echoic Memory | Eidetic memory | Episodic memory | Episodic-like memory  | Explicit memory  |Exosomatic memory | False memory |Flashbulb memory | Iconic memory | Implicit memory | Institutional memory | Long term memory | Music-related memory | Procedural memory | Prospective memory | Repressed memory | Retrospective memory | Semantic memory | Sensory memory | Short term memory | Spatial memory | State-dependent memory | Tonal memory | Transactive memory | Transsaccadic memory | Verbal memory  | Visual memory  | Visuospatial memory  | Working memory  |
Aspects of memory
Childhood amnesia | Cryptomnesia |Cued recall | Eye-witness testimony | Memory and emotion | Forgetting |Forgetting curve | Free recall | Levels-of-processing effect | Memory consolidation |Memory decay | Memory distrust syndrome |Memory inhibition | Memory and smell | Memory for the future | Memory loss | Memory optimization | Memory trace | Mnemonic | Memory biases  | Modality effect | Tip of the tongue | Lethologica | Memory loss |Priming | Primacy effect | Reconstruction | Proactive interference | Prompting | Recency effect | Recall (learning) | Recognition (learning) | Reminiscence | Retention | Retroactive interference | Serial position effect | Serial recall | Source amnesia |
Memory theory
Atkinson-Shiffrin | Baddeley | CLARION | Decay theory | Dual-coding theory | Interference theory |Memory consolidation | Memory encoding | Memory-prediction framework | Forgetting | Recall | Recognition |
Method of loci | Mnemonic room system | Mnemonic dominic system | Mnemonic learning | Mnemonic link system |Mnemonic major system | Mnemonic peg system | [[]] |[[]] |
Neuroanatomy of memory
Amygdala | Hippocampus | prefrontal cortex  | Neurobiology of working memory | Neurophysiology of memory | Rhinal cortex | Synapses |[[]] |
Neurochemistry of memory
Glutamatergic system  | of short term memory | [[]] |[[]] | [[]] | [[]] | [[]] | [[]] |[[]] |
Developmental aspects of memory
Prenatal memory | |Childhood memory | Memory and aging | [[]] | [[]] |
Memory in clinical settings
Alcohol amnestic disorder | Amnesia | Dissociative fugue | False memory syndrome | False memory | Hyperthymesia | Memory and aging | Memory disorders | Memory distrust syndrome  Repressed memory  Traumatic memory |
Retention measures
Benton | CAMPROMPT | Implicit memory testing | Indirect tests of memory | MAS | Memory tests for children | MERMER | Rey-15 | Rivermead | TOMM | Wechsler | WMT | WRAML2 |
Treating memory problems
CBT | EMDR | Psychotherapy | Recovered memory therapy |Reminiscence therapy | Memory clinic | Memory training | Rewind technique |
Prominant workers in memory|-
Baddeley | Broadbent |Ebbinghaus  | Kandel |McGaugh | Schacter  | Treisman | Tulving  |
Philosophy and historical views of memory
Aristotle | [[]] |[[]] |[[]] |[[]] | [[]] | [[]] | [[]] |
Journals | Learning, Memory, and Cognition |Journal of Memory and Language |Memory |Memory and Cognition | [[]] | [[]] | [[]] |

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