In a recent blog post titled “The Human Information Processing System: How People Learn (or Don’t),” we went over five key steps in which people learn and later apply information. In this post, we’ll look at the transition from Step 1, “We experience information through our senses and sensory memory,” to Step 2, “Some of that information is processed by our working memory.”
As we learned earlier, in Step 1 sensory information (sights, sounds, etc.) is perceived by our sense organs (eyes, ears, etc.) and is briefly processed by our sensory memory. The information stays in our sensory information for a very short time—in many cases, only a fraction of a second, though in some cases, it may last for a few seconds.
Some of that information goes on to be processed by our working memory; this is when we become aware of the information. The rest of that information is essentially lost. This is why people sometimes say that the working memory is a “bottleneck” within the learning process. And it’s why if you’re trying to help employees learn, you want to try to draw their attention to the right stuff to get past that bottleneck.