The Atkinson-Shiffrin model of memory is also known as the multi-story memory model. This model assumes the presence of three separate but sequentially connected memory systems such as sensory, short-term and long-term.


The Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model states that short-term memory section is a centerpiece of the memory acquisition and storage. Sensory memory contains fleeting impressions of sensory stimuli such as visual elements or sounds. In short-term memory contains a limited set of recently perceived stimuli such as a phone number or lunch menu.

Long-term memory stores more or more permanent memories that are retrieved for reuse. Each of these memory systems differs from the other in the way information is processed, the amount of information stored and the duration of its storage.

Thus, the Atkinson-Shiffrin model of memory assumes three types or blocks of memory, namely sensory registers, short-term memory, and long-term memory. The model is an attempt to solve problems such as in what form the information is stored in memory, what transformations are possible over the information presented in different forms, and how the information is extracted from the memory.

It is assumed that the information enters the memory system from the external environment through parallel rows of registers of short-term sensory memory, and then goes into a general short-term storage. It is believed that the general short-term memory acts like a working memory, that is, it is able to operate with information and transfer it to long-term storage. In the Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model, short-term storage is the main link, since without it neither the assimilation of new information nor the reproduction of old is possible. Atkinson and Shiffrin did not consider these repositories as specific psychological structures, but as a hypothetical, mental model that helps to understand the functioning of memory.