Tag: memory


Organization of Long-term Memory

Organization of Long-term Memory

 

The ability to retrieve information from long-term memory allows you to use memories to make decisions, interact with others, and solve problems.

Although there is a tremendous amount of research, we do not know exactly how information is actually organized in long-term memory. However, there are several different theories on how long-term memory is organized.

 

Organization of Long-term Memory

The four main theories are:

  1. hierarchies
  2. semantic networks
  3. schemas
  4. connectionist network

 

 

Hierarchies

A basic theory of the organization of long-term memory is hierarchies.  The hierarchies’ theory contends that long-term memory is organized through a hierarchical arrangements of concepts.  Concepts may represent physical objects, events, attributes, or abstractions. These concepts are arranged from general to more specific classes. Also, these concepts can be simple or complex.

With hierarchical arrangements, pieces of information are associated with each other through meaningful links from general to specific types of things.  For example, both animal and plant would be classified under “living things” since they are both living things. Tree and flower would be sub-classifications under plant because they are both plants. Oak and Maple would be sub-classifications under trees. Sub-classifications can keep going as they get more specific.

Hierarchies

 

Semantic Networks

The semantic networks theory contends memory is organized in a network of interconnected concepts and certain triggers activate associated memories.  These networks are loosely connected conceptual hierarchies linked together by associations to other concepts.

A semantic network is comprised of an assortment of nodes. Each node represents a concept.  These conceptual nodes are connected or linked according to their relationship. For example, flower may be connected to both rose and plant nodes by the semantic association.

Although it has similarities to hierarchies, semantic networks are more random and less structured than true hierarchies. They have multiple links from one concept to others. Concepts within semantic networks are not limited to specific aspects. For example, the concept of tree can be linked to oak, maple, bark, limb, branch, leaf, grow, fruit, plant, shade, climb, wood, and other concepts.

These concepts in semantic networks are connected based on the meaning and relationships that you have learned through experiences. For example, thinking about your grandparent’s house might trigger memories of celebrating holidays, attending dinners, or playing in the backyard.

New memories are formed by adding new nodes to the network. Information needs to be linked to existing networks memory. Therefore, new information is placed in the network by connecting it to appropriate nodes. However, if information is not associated with existing information it is forgotten.

Organization of Long term memory

 

Schemas

Schemas are organized mental representation of information about the world, events, people, and things.

A schema is a data structure for representing generic concepts stored in memory.

A schema reflects a pattern of relationships among data stored in memory. It is any set of nodes and links between them in the web of memory.

Schemas form frameworks of mental concepts established from patterns of already stored information. These clusters of information that reflect your knowledge, experience, and expectations about various aspect of the world are stored in multiple locations throughout your brain.

These frameworks allow you to organize and interpret new information. New memories are formed by adding new schemas or modifying old ones. These frameworks start off very basic, but get more and more complex as you gain additional information.

Since a schema framework already exists in your mind, it will influence how new information is interpreted and integrated into your memory.  They will guide your recognition and understanding of new information by providing expectations about what should occur. When you see or hear something, you automatically infer the schema that is being referred to. For example, if you hear the term car, you will remember characteristics about a car such as four wheels, steering wheel, doors, hood, trunk, etc…

Schemas

 

 

Connectionist Networks – Parallel Distributed Processing

One of the most recent theories of the organization of long-term memory is Connectionism.  The theory of connectionism, also referred to as Parallel Distributed Processing or neural networks, asserts that long-term memory is organized by a connectionist networks. In a connectionist network, information is stored in small units throughout the brain with connections between units or nodes of neurons.

The human brain contains billions of neurons. Many of them connect to ten thousand other neurons. Together they form neural networks.

A neural network consists of large number of units joined together in a pattern of connections. Each unit or node depicts a neuron or a group of neurons. A neural network is made up of three layers of units: An input layer, a hidden layer, and an output layer.

  1. Input layer – receives information and distributes the signal throughout the network.
  2. Hidden layer – serves as a connection with other units.
  3. Output layer – passes information to other parts of the brain, which can generate the appropriate response in a particular situation.

Connectionist Networks

In a connectionist network, there is a collection of units or nodes where each node represents a concept. Connections between nodes represent learned associations. Activation of a node will activate other nodes associated with it. Connections between nodes are not programmed into the network. Rather, the network learns the association by exposure to the concepts. Several of these neurons may work together to process a single memory.

 

 

 

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Paying Attention and memory

Paying Attention and Memory

 

Memory is the processes that is used to acquire, retain, and later retrieve information. The first stage of memory is encoding. Encoding is the process of getting information into memory. It occurs when information is translated into a form that can be processed mentally.

Information from the environment is constantly reaching your senses in the forms of stimuli. Encoding allows you to change that stimuli so you may put it into your memory. If information or stimuli never gets encoded, it will never be remembered. Information or stimuli has to be paid attention to in order to be encoded. Thus, attention is a significant part of the memory process.

Paying attention

 

Paying Attention and Memory

The process of remembering begins with attention. Attention is the ability to focus on an event, object, person, or task. If you do not pay attention to the information, it will not get encoded and thus you will not be able to remember it at a later time.

Generally, if you have difficulty paying attention, you will likely have difficulty remembering information. The opposite is also true, in that if you pay attention and focus, you will be able to remember information easier.

People often will forget the name of someone they met just a few minutes earlier. This is usually because the name never gets encoded. People are often thinking of something else, when they are introduced to the person, and they never encode the name.

Typically, the environment around you has too much stimuli for you to encode all that is happening. Therefore, you attend to some information in your environment and you ignore other information.

 

Types of Attention

There are four types of attention. These different types of attention affect memory differently, and explains why you may encode some stimuli and not others. The four types of attention:

Sustained – ability to focus on a specific task for a continuous amount of time

Selective – ability to select from many factors and to focus on one with filtering out distractions

Alternating – ability to switch your focus back and forth between different tasks

Divided – ability to process two or more responses simultaneously by dividing you attention

Types of Attention

Sustained attention is when you focus on one specific task without being distracted, so most of the information is encoded. Selective attention allows you to select what to focus on while filtering out distractions. This also allows you to encode the information you feel is important. Divided attention and alternating attention occurs when you are paying attention to more than one thing at the same time, thus not encoding all the information.

 

Keys to Helping You Pay Attention

  1. Get enough rest so you are not tired
  2. Do activities in a quiet area to avoid distractions
  3. If too quiet is distracting for you, listen to classical or non-distracting music
  4. Use ear plugs or head phones in noisy areas
  5. Prioritize task
  6. If you need to do two task at once, perform one physical task and one cognitive task so that you are not overloading your cognitive functions
  7. Take quick breaks to give your mind a rest
  8. Periodically get up and move around to keep you blood flowing
  9. Write information down
  10. Chunk information
  11. Map out information in a visual way
  12. Relax

 

Related Links

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory Techniques

Causes of Forgetting

Encoding Information into Memory

Types of Attention

 

 

 

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Encoding

Encoding Information into Memory

 

Encoding is the process of getting information into memory. If information or stimuli never gets encoded, it will never be remembered.

Encoding occurs when information is translated into a form that can be processed mentally. Information from the environment is constantly reaching your senses in the forms of stimuli. Encoding allows you to change the stimuli so that you may put it into your memory. It is similar to librarians classifying books before placing them on a shelf. As librarians encode/label books so patrons to easily locate them, you encode/label information before placing the information into your memory.

 

 

Three Kinds of Encoding

When information comes into your sensory memory, it needs to be changed into a form that can be stored.  There are three main ways in which information can be encoded/changed:

  1. Visual (picture)
  2. Acoustic (sound)
  3. Semantic (meaning)

 

encoding

 

Visual: Information is represented as a picture

Acoustic: Information is represented as sounds

Semantic: Information is represented by its meaning to you

 

When you are exposed to information through your senses, you take the information and begin processing it in visual, acoustic, and/or semantic form. This means that you take in information, either as a picture, a sound, or give the information meaning. For example, if you look at a telephone number on a piece of paper, you are using visual. If you say the number out loud, you are acoustically encoding. If you notice that some of the digits sequentially represent a special date, you give that number meaning and thus semantically encoding.

semantic encoding

 

 

Visual

Visual encoding is the process involving images and visual sensory information. This means you convert new information into mental pictures. For example, if you try to remember the following list of words which words to you think you will remember easier?

  • Apple
  • Hope
  • House
  • Respect
  • Cup
  • Value

You would probably find it easier to remember the words apple, house, and cup. It would probably be more difficult to recall the words hope, respect, and value. This is because you can recall the mental images more easily than words themselves. When you read the word apple, you probably pictured an apple in your mind. However, when you read the more abstract words like hope, you probably had a harder time creating a mental image.

Also, if you are presented a list of words, each shown for one second, you would be able to remember if there was a word in a different color, or if a word was written in all capital letters or in italics by visually encoding.

Apple

Car

HOUSE

 

Acoustic

Acoustic encoding is the process of remembering something that you hear. You may use acoustic by putting a sound to words or creating a song or rhythm. Learning the alphabet or multiplication tables can be an example of acoustic.  If you say something out loud or read aloud, you are using acoustic.  An example of memory recall from acoustic is if you are listening to the radio and a song that you have not heard for a long time comes on, and you find yourself remember all the words. This is because the words were acoustically encoded. We encode the sounds the words make.

 

Semantic

Semantic encoding is the processing of sensory input that has particular meaning or can be applied to a context. Semantic requires linking new information to existing knowledge in order to make the new information more meaningful. Information that is encoded semantically is better remembered than those encoded visually or acoustically because semantic involves a deeper level of processing than visual or acoustic encoding. The quality of remembering or retrieving information later is directly linked to the degree with which new information can be connected or assimilated with existing knowledge.

 

Related Links 

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory Techniques

Causes of Forgetting

Encoding Information into Memory

Paying Attention and Memory

Types of Attention

 

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Memory Process

 

The Memory Process

 

Memory is the processes that is used to acquire, retain, and later retrieve information. The memory process involves three domains: encoding, storage, and retrieval.

 

Encoding – processing incoming information so it can be entered into memory

Storage – maintaining information in memory for a period of time

Retrieval – accessing or recalling stored information from memory so it can be used

 

memory process

 

 

Overview of the Memory Process

Encoding is the process of getting information into memory. If information or stimuli never gets encoded, it will never be remembered. Encoding requires paying attention to information and linking it to existing knowledge in order to make the new information meaningful and thus easier to remember.

 

Storage consists of retention of information over time. It is believed that we can gather information in three main storage areas: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. These areas vary according to time frames.

 

Retrieval is the process of getting information out of memory. The ability to access and retrieve information from memory allows you to use the memories to answer questions, perform tasks, make decisions, and interact with other people.

 

 

Encoding

Encoding is the process of getting information into memory. If information or stimuli never gets encoded, it will not be remembered.

Encoding is the first stage of the memory process.  Encoding occurs when information is translated into a form that can be processed mentally. Information from the environment is constantly reaching your senses in the forms of stimuli. Encoding allows you to change the stimuli so that you may put it into your memory. It is similar to librarians classifying books before placing them on a shelf. As librarians encode/label books so patrons to easily locate them, you encode/label information before placing the information into your memory.

 

Two Ways of Encoding

Simply receiving sensory input is not sufficient to encode information. You must attend to and process that input. Encoding that information occurs through both automatic processing and effortful processing.

Automatic processing occurs without any conscious awareness. It occurs effortlessly, automatically, without you having to think about it. Examples includes details like time, space, frequency, personal experience, and some motor skills learning.

You are always encoding the events of your life. Every day you encode events and can remember what happened, at least for a while. For example, you probably can remember what you had for dinner last night, even though you didn’t intentionally try to remember that information. However, other types of information become encoded only if you pay attention to it. For example, you would need to pay attention if someone gave you their telephone number or gave you a list of items to pick up at the store. That types of encoding is effortful processing, since it involves effort.

Effortful processing occurs when you consciously try to remember information. It requires special attention, thought, and practice. In other words, you have to put in effort to get the information in to memory.

 

 

Three Kinds of Encoding

When information comes into your sensory memory, it needs to be changed into a form that can be stored.  There are three main ways in which information can be encoded/changed:

  1. Visual (picture)
  2. Acoustic (sound)
  3. Semantic (meaning)

 

Visual encoding: Information is represented as a picture

Acoustic encoding: Information is represented as sounds

Semantic encoding: Information is represented by its meaning to you

 

When you are exposed to information through your senses, you take the information and begin processing it in visual, acoustic, and/or semantic form. This means that you take in information, either as a picture, a sound, or give the information meaning. For example, if you look at a telephone number on a piece of paper, you are using visual encoding. If you say the number out loud, you are acoustically encoding. If you notice that some of the digits sequentially represent a special date, you give that number meaning and thus semantically encoding.

 

 

Storage

Storage is the retention of information over time. This second stage of the memory process creates a permanent record of the encoded information.

It is believed that we can accumulate information in three main storage areas: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Information is stored sequentially in the three memory systems, and the storage areas vary according to time frames. The period of time that information is retained is anywhere from a fraction of a second to years. Sensory memory only stores information for a brief second. Short-term memory can hold information longer, but it is only usually about 30-45 seconds. Long-term memory, however, can last a lifetime.

 

Sensory Memory

Sensory memory stores incoming sensory information in detail, but only for a fraction of a second. The capacity of sensory memory is very large, but the information in it is unprocessed.

 

Short-Term Memory

Some of the information in sensory memory transfers to short-term memory. Short-term memory can hold information for approximately 30-45 seconds. Rehearsing the information can help keep it in short-term memory longer. For example, if you repeat a person’s phone number over and over to yourself, you are using rehearsal to keep it in your short-term memory.

Short-term memory has a limited capacity. It is believed to hold about seven pieces of information, plus or minus two pieces. Chunking is a method that can help increase the capacity of short-term memory. Chunking involves grouping small bits of information into larger chunks. So, you still retain the same number of items (7 +/- 2), but the size of the items are bigger.

 

Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory has an almost an unlimited storage capacity. Information that makes it into long-term memory can remain there for your entire life. However, even though it is there you may not always be able to remember the information, because you may not be able to retrieve it. The way we store information in long-term memory affects the way we retrieve it.

 

 

Retrieval

Retrieval is the process of recalling stored information from memory. Basically, it is getting information out of your long-term memory and returning it to your conscious mind.

 

Recognition and Recall

There are two main methods of retrieving memories:

  • Recognition
  • Recall

 

Recognition

Recognition is the association of something with something previously experienced. It involves comparing new information with information stored in memory. The recognition process is initiated as a response to a sensory cue. When you see something, you compare it to information stored in your memory. Hence, you recognize it. For example, you may go to a party and see a person you recognize from a prior experience.

 

Recall

Recall is the retrieval of information from memory without a cue. If a person asks you a question, you must search your memory to recall the answer. It involves remembering a fact, event, or other information that is not currently physically present. For example, you may have to recall the list of items you had on your shopping list.

 

Related Links

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory Techniques

Causes of Forgetting

Encoding Information into Memory

Paying Attention and Memory

Types of Attention

 

 

 

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Classification of Memory

Classification of Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory

Memory is the mental function that enables you to acquire, retain, and recall sensations, impressions, information, and thoughts you have experienced.

There are several different types, stages, classifications, and functions of memory. Most people think of memory as either short-term or long-term. However, memory can be divided into many more types or categories. We categorize short-term and long-term as stages of memory than types of memory. Types of memory are mostly subsets of long-term memory.

 

 

Three Stages of Memory

There are three memory stages: sensory, short-term, and long-term. Information processing begins in sensory memory, moves to short-term memory, and eventually moves into long-term memory.

Stages of memory

Information that you come across on a daily basis may move through the three stages of memory. However, not all information makes its way through all three stages. Most of it is forgotten somewhere along the way. The determination of what information makes its way through the different stages depends on what you pay attention to and process. Information that you pay attention to and process will move to the next stage of memory. However, any information you to do not pay attention to never makes it way to the next stage.

 

 

Sensory Memory

Sensory Memory processes information from the environment and holds it for a very brief period of time, generally for no longer than a second. Sensory memory retains impressions of sensory information after the original stimulus has stopped. Most of the information that gets into sensory memory is forgotten, but information that we pay attention to passes into short-term memory.

Types of Sensory Memory

  1. Iconic memory is the visual sensory memory that holds the mental representation of your visual stimuli.
  2. Echoic memory is the auditory sensory memory that hold information that you hear.
  3. Haptic memory is the tactile sensory memory that holds information from your sense of feeling.

 

 

Short-term memory

Short-term memory is also known as working or active memory. It is the information we are currently thinking about. Information in short-term memory is not stored permanently. Most of the information stored in short-term memory will only be kept for approximately 20 to 45 seconds. While many of our short-term memories are quickly forgotten, paying attention to the information and processing it allows it to continue into long-term memory.

Short term memory not only has a limited time, it also has a limited capacity. It believed to only hold a few items. Research shows the number is around 7 +/- 2 items.

 

 

Long-term Memory

Long-term memory refers to the storage of information over an extended period. It is all the memories we hold for periods longer than a few seconds. The information can last in our long-term memory for hours, days, months, or years. Although we may forget at least some information after we learn it, other things will stay with us forever.

Unlike short-term memory, the capacity of long-term memory is seemingly unlimited.

 

 

Types of Long-term Memory

There are several different types and categories that people use to describe long-term memory. Below is a list of some of those;

  • Implicit and Explicit memory
  • Declarative and Non-declarative memory (Procedural)
  • Semantic and Episodic memory

 

 

Two Main Types of Memory

There are main two types of long-term memory:

  1. Explicit memory (Conscious)
  2. Implicit memory – (non-Conscious)

 

Explicit and implicit memory

 

Explicit memory

Explicit memory are those experiences and information that you have to consciously think about to remember. When you are trying to intentionally remember something such as the name of someone you met or a list of items to pick up at the store, this information is stored in your explicit memory. It is termed explicit memory because you can name and describe each of these remembered things explicitly. It would include consciously remembered knowledge or experiences such as information, episodes or events.

This type of memory is also known as declarative memory, since you can consciously recall and explain the information.

 

 

Implicit memory

Implicit memory refers to knowledge you remember unconsciously and effortlessly. It is remembering without awareness. You use implicit memory when your previous experiences aid the performance of a task without conscious awareness of these previous experiences. For example, you would use your implicit memory to ride a bike or drive a car because you can do so without having to consciously think about it.

 

 

Declarative vs. Non-declarative

Instead of implicit and explicit, some people use the terms declarative and non-declarative (or procedural) to differentiate the two main types of long-term memory.

 

Declarative Memory

Declarative memory is another term for explicit memory. Explicit or declarative memory requires conscious recall. It consists of information that is consciously stored and retrieved.

 

Non-declarative memory

Non-declarative memory is another term for implicit memory, because it is expressed by means other than words or you are not able to consciously bring it into awareness. For example, when you ride a bike, you are expressing memories of motor skills that do not require the use of language.

 

Explicit = Declarative

Implicit = Non-declarative

 

Declarative and non-declarative

 

 

Types of Explicit Memory

Explicit memory can be divided into two categories;

  1. Episodic
  2. Semantic

 

 

Episodic and Semantic Memory

Explicit memory or declarative memory can be further subdivided into semantic memory and episodic memory.

Episodic memory is the ability to remember episodes of your life. It refers to the firsthand experiences that you have experienced in your life. For example, if you were ask to tell someone what you did last Saturday, you would need to mentally travel through the day in your mind and state the events of your day.

Semantic memory stores your knowledge of facts, concepts, names, and other general knowledge information about the world. (i.e. the names of the football players on a team, definition of the word “abstract”). If you were given the task to list the ingredients in cheese cake, you would not need to “time travel” in your mind. You may simply recall the data.

 

Semantic memory – Facts, data, general information, or knowledge

Episodic memory – personally experienced events (life experiences)

 

 

 

Types of Implicit Memory

Implicit memory involves recollection things that you do not purposely trying to remember. It is both unconscious and unintentional.

The three types of implicit memory are procedural memory, classical conditioning, and priming.

 

Procedural memory

Procedural memory is implicit memory for skills and motor movements. It involves those skills and tasks you learn and perform without conscious awareness. Procedural memory enables you to perform many everyday physical activities without having to give it any thought. Examples of procedural memory include walking, riding a bike, tying shoes, making a sandwich, and reading.

 

 

Classical conditioning

Classical conditioning refers to the unconscious awareness of an association of one stimulus with another stimulus. The memory for the association is demonstrated when the conditioned stimulus begins to create the same response as the unconditioned stimulus did before the learning. For example, if you hear a dinner bell ring, it may create a naturally occurring response such as excitement or salivation. Another example is if you heard there was going to be a test, you begin to get tense and nervous.

 

 

Priming

Priming is an effect in which exposure to one stimulus influences the response to another stimulus due to prior experience. Basically, priming influences your flow of thoughts. It is a non-conscious effect that activates particular concepts or associations in memory. The theory is that when you are exposed to something enough it will rises from your subconscious to the surface of your consciousness.

For example, if ask to state an animal that begins with the letter “D”, most people would choose “dog” because it probably the most popular. However, some people may choose “deer” because of particular connection. You can often predict how a person will respond based on the priming stimulus. What do you think most people would pick for a tool beginning with the letter “H”…Hammer?

Since it occurs outside of your conscious awareness, it is your implicit memory. Often, you do not consciously recall seeing the priming stimulus that affect your action.

 

Implicit and Explicit Memory

 Related Links

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory Techniques

Causes of Forgetting

Encoding Information into Memory

Paying Attention and Memory

Types of Attention

 

 

 

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Stages of Memory

Stages of Memory

 

Memory is the mental function that enables you to acquire, retain, and recall sensations, impressions, information, and thoughts you have experienced.

To help understand memory as a whole, you can think of memory in terms of stages. The different stages describe the length of time that information remains available to you.

The three stages of memory are:

  • Sensory memory
  • Short-term memory
  • Long-term memory

 

 

 

Overview – Three Stages of Memory

There are three memory stages: sensory, short-term, and long-term. Information processing begins in sensory memory, moves to short-term memory, and eventually moves into long-term memory.

Information that you come across on a daily basis may move through the three stages of memory. However, not all information makes its way through all three stages. Most of it is forgotten somewhere along the way. The determination of what information makes its way through the different stages depends on what you pay attention to and process. Information that you pay attention to and process will move to the next stage of memory. However, any information you to do not pay attention to never makes it way to the next stage.

 

Memory flow

 

 

Stages of Memory

Sensory memory – Processes information gathered through your five senses. It holds information for an extremely brief period of time (less than a second) after the original stimulus has stopped.

Short-term memory – holds information you are actively thinking about. It lasts for a very brief time (less than a minute) and can only hold 7 +/- 2 pieces of information at once.

Long-term memory – holds information for long periods even permanently. It seemingly can hold an unlimited amount of information.

 

 

Sensory Memory

Sensory memory is the first stage of memory. Its purpose is to give your brain time to process the incoming information.

Sensory memory is not consciously controlled. You subconsciously and continuously gather information from the environment through your five senses. Sensory memory holds impressions of that sensory information that was received by your five senses after the original stimulus has stopped. However, it only holds it for a very brief period, generally for no longer than a second. In order for that information to be retained for longer, it has to continue onto short-term memory.

Most of the information that gets into sensory memory is forgotten. It never makes its way into the second stage of memory because it was never attended to. To get information into short-term memory, you need to attend to it – meaning consciously paying attention to it.

Sensory memory can be observed if you look at an object then close your eyes. As your eyes close, you can notice how the visual image is maintained for a fraction of a second before fading. It is your sensory memory that is holding that image.

Sensory memory also explains why the old 16mm movies shot with 16 separate frames per second appears as continuous movement rather than a series of single still pictures.   A visual trace is retained in sensory memory for about a split second. But it holds it long enough to keep the image in your mind until the next still image replaces it.

16 mm film

Basically, sensory memory allows you to see the world as an unbroken chain of events, rather than as individual pieces. This is an example of iconic memory, which is your visual sensory memory.

There are two other types of sensory memory; echoic memory (the auditory sensory) and haptic memory (the tactile sensory).

 

Types of Sensory memory

Iconic memory is the visual sensory memory that holds the mental representation of your visual stimuli.

Echoic memory is the auditory sensory memory that hold information that you hear.

Haptic memory is the tactile sensory memory that holds information from your sense of feeling.

 

 

Short-term Memory

Short-term Memory Short-term memory (STM) is also known as working or active memory. It holds the information you are currently thinking about. This information will quickly be forgotten unless you make a conscious effort to retain it.

Like sensory memory, short-term memory holds information temporarily, pending further processing. However, unlike sensory memory which holds the complete image received by your senses, short-term memory only stores your interpretation of the image.

 

Temporary Storage

As indicated above, information in short-term memory is not stored permanently. Information passes from sensory memory into short-term memory, where again it is held for only a short period of time. Most of the information stored in short-term memory will only be kept for approximately 20 to 45 seconds. While many of your short-term memories are quickly forgotten, paying attention to the information and processing (encoding) it allows it to continue into long-term memory. Just as sensory memory is a necessary step for short-term memory, short-term memory is a necessary step toward the next stage of retention, long-term memory.

Processing or encoding includes making judgments and assessments about meaning, relevance, and significance of that information. It also includes the mental activities needed to move selected portions of the information into long-term memory. If encoding never happens, the information never gets into long-term memory.

The reason a person forgets the name of someone to whom he or she has just been introduced to is because the name often was never encoded and transferred from short-term to long-term memory.

 

Limited capacity

Short-term memory not only has a limited time, it also has a limited capacity. It is believed to only hold a few items. Research shows the number is around 7 +/- 2 items. For example, if a person is asked to listen to a series of 20 names, he or she normally retains only about seven names. Typically, it is either the first few or last few. The reason is because if you focuses on the first few items, your STM becomes saturated, and you cannot concentrate on and recall the last series of items. People are able to retain more information using memory techniques such as chunking or rehearsal.

 

 

Long-term Memory

Long-Term Memory Long-term memory (LTM) refers to the storage of information over an extended period. It is all the memories you hold for periods longer than a few seconds. The information can last in your long-term memory for hours, days, months, or even years. Although you may forget some information after you learn it, other things will stay with you forever.

Some information retained in STM is processed or encoded into long-term memory. This information is filed away in your mind and must be retrieved before it can be used. Some of the information in your LTM is easy to recall, while other memories are much more difficult to retrieve.

Unlike short-term memory, long-term memory has seemingly unlimited capacity. You may remember numerous facts and figures, as well as episodes in your life from years ago.

 

 

Types of long-term memory

There are main two types of long term memory; explicit memory and implicit memory.

 

Explicit memory

Explicit memory are those experiences that can be intentionally and consciously remembered. It is knowledge or experiences that can be consciously remembered such as facts, data, episodes, or events. Explicit memory can be further sub-categorized as either episodic or semantic memories.

Episodic memory refers to the firsthand experiences that you have had (e.g. episodes or events in your life). For example, you may remember your 16th birthday party or your first soccer game.

Semantic memory refers to knowledge of facts and concepts about the world. For example, you may remember the names of presidents or how to multiple two numbers.

 

 

Implicit memory

Implicit memory refers to knowledge that we cannot consciously access. It is remembering without awareness. For example, you may remember how to ride a bike or walk, but it is difficult to explain how you do it.

 

Related Links

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory Techniques

Causes of Forgetting

Encoding Information into Memory

Paying Attention and Memory

Types of Attention

 

 

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Forgetting

 Causes of Forgetting

 

 

Causes of Forgetting

Everyone forgets things; like a person’s name, where they left their keys, the ending to a movie, or how to do math problems.  However, the reason why we forget something may differ.  Have you ever felt like a piece of information has just disappeared from memory?  Or have you had situations where you have no memory of a certain event?  Or maybe, you know certain pieces of information exist in your mind, but you just cannot seem to retrieve it.

The inability to retrieve a memory is only one cause of forgetting.   We may forget because the information was never in long-term memory in the first place.  The way information is encoded affects the ability to remember it.  If it is not coded effectively, we will likely forget the information in the future.  We may also forget specific information because we confuse it with other information which we have processed.  Information may also be forgotten simply because we have not thought about in in a long time.

 

The main reasons for forgetting include:

  1. Retrieval Failure

  1. Ineffective Encoding

  1. Interference

  1. Decay or Fading

  1. Motivated Forgetting

  1. Physical Injury or Trauma

  1. Organic Causes

  

 

Retrieval Failure

The inability to retrieve a memory is one of the most common causes of forgetting.   Retrieval failure is the failure to recall a memory due to missing stimuli or cues that were present at the time the memory was encoded.  This theory is that a memory is temporarily forgotten simply because it cannot be retrieved, but with the proper cue that information can be brought to mind.  For example, you might not remember the name of an actor in a movie, but his name might suddenly pop into your mind if you see a clip from a movie or if someone tells you the name begins with the letter “L”.  The movie or the letter would be acting as a cue for remembering the actor’s name.

With retrieval failure, the information still exists in memory, but just not readily available without specific cues.  A good retrieval cue will be consistent with the original encoding of the information.

 

 

Ineffective Encoding

The inability to remember information may sometimes have less to do with forgetting and more to do with the fact that it never made its way into long-term memory.  This type of forgetting is caused because the person did not pay attention in the first place.  Encoding failure or ineffective coding may prevent information from entering long-term memory, and thus the information never being stored to be able to be retrieved at a later date.  This may happen when you meet someone and later you cannot remember his or her name.  This is probably because you were preoccupied when you were introduced, and the name never made it to long term memory.

An example of ineffective coding can also be exhibited by trying to draw the back of a dime from memory.  Chances are you probably remember the shape and color, but probably could not draw a lot of the details even though you have seen hundreds of dimes over the course of your life.  The reason for this is that only details necessary for distinguishing dimes from other coins were encoded into your long-term memory.

 

 

Interference

Interference occurs when information gets confused with other information in our long-term memory.  The Interference theory suggests that some memories compete and interfere with other memories, and that memory loss occurs when information stored either before or after a given memory hinders the ability to remember it.  Essentially, cues for different memories may be too similar so a wrong memory gets retrieved.

There are two types of interference:

  1. proactive
  2. retroactive

 

Retroactive interference occurs when new information interferes with your ability to remember previously learned information.  Basically, it occurs when information works backwards to interfere with earlier information, so previously learned information is lost because it is mixed up with new and somewhat similar information.  For example, if you learn the state capitals this week, new information, such as world capitals, presented to you next week could cause you to become confused about the state capitals.

Proactive interference is when an old memory makes it more difficult to remember new information.  Current information is lost because it is mixed up with previously learned information that may be similar.   For example, you could have trouble learning a new math concept because it conflicts with preconceived notions or assumptions you may have regarding a similar topic.  For example, if you knew the rules of rugby then started learning the rules of football, you may have trouble remembering the rules of football because they conflict with the old information (rules of rugby).

 

Retroactive interference Occurs when newly learned information makes people forget old information.
Proactive interference Occurs when old information makes people forget newly learned information.

 

 

 

Decay Theory (Fading)

The Decay theory suggests that when something new is learned, a memory “trace” is formed in the brain and over time the trace begins to fade and disappear, unless it is occasionally used.   With this theory, if information is not occasionally retrieved, it will eventually be lost.

The Decay Theory explains the loss of memories from sensory and short-term memory, but not from long term memory.  When information fades from working and short-term memory, it disappears because the space was needed for other incoming information.  However, loss of long-term memories does not seem to depend on how much time has gone by since the information was learned.  Most theorists believe that once information has been transferred to long-term memory it is stored there permanently.  The theorists believe that the memory is always there, but the mental path to get to the memory has decayed.  For example, people might easily remember their first day of high school, but completely forget the last movie they saw.  This may be because of the strong links (emotion, visual, etc..) the person has to the memory.  This is why people who see a horrific accident, have a hard time forgetting it.

With the Decay theory, when information fades from long-term memory, what really fades is the link to that information, not the information itself.  The information is there, but we just cannot find it.  It is like a path in the woods that leads to a cabin; the more you use the path, the easily it is to find the cabin.  However, if you do not use the path for several years, the path will eventually fade.  The cabin will still exist, but will be harder to find because the path that leads there has faded.  Fading can be prevented by encoding the information as meaningfully as possible, by frequently retrieving it, and by using effective memory strategies.

 

 

OTHER CAUSES OF FORGETTING

Motivated Forgetting

The Motivated Forgetting theory suggests people forget because they push unpleasant thoughts and feelings deep into their unconscious.  People may actively work to forget memories, especially those of traumatic or disturbing events or experiences.

The two basic forms of motivated forgetting are:

Suppression: a conscious form of forgetting
Repression: an unconscious form of forgetting

 

 

Physical Injury or Trauma

Anterograde amnesia is the inability to remember events that occur after an injury or traumatic event.  Retrograde amnesia is the inability to remember events that occurred before an injury or traumatic event.

 

Organic Causes

Forgetting that occurs through physiological damage to the brain is referred to as organic causes of forgetting.  These theories encompass the loss of information already retained in long term memory or the inability to encode new information.  This is typically caused by the gradual slowing down of the central nervous system due to aging.  Examples include Alzheimer’s, Amnesia, and Dementia.

 

Related Links

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory Techniques

Encoding Information into Memory

Paying Attention and Memory

Types of Attention

 

Memorization vs understanding

The Learning Pyramid

Learning Theories

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s pyramid

 

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Types of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory is the mental function that enables you to acquire, retain, and recall sensations, impressions, information, and thoughts you have experienced.

types of memory

 

Types of Memory

There are three basic categories for Types of Memory:

Sensory Memory Holds information coming in through the senses for a period ranging from a fraction of a second to several seconds

Short-Term

Memory (STM)

Holds information we are actively thinking about for about seven items for no more than 20 or 30 seconds at a time without rehearsal.
Long-Term Memory (LTM) Holds information for a long period of time (almost permanently) with a virtually unlimited capacity

 

Stages of memory

However, there are several additional types of memory.

  1. Implicit vs. explicit memory
  2. Declarative vs. non-declarative memory
  3. Declarative vs. procedural memory
  4. Semantic vs. episodic memory

 

 

Types of Short-Term Memory

Short-term memory is the information we are currently aware of or thinking about.  It is the information that is held in our mind for a very short period of time before it is either dismissed or transferred to long-term memory.  Working memory can be thought of a distinct segment of short term memory.

Working memory – is a subpart of short-term memory applied to cognitive tasks that temporarily stores, organizes and manipulates information.

 

 

 

Types of Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory is our brain’s system for storing, managing, and retrieving information.  We store different types of information (procedures, personal experiences, facts, language, etc.) in our long term memory.  There are three main distinctions among different types of memory:

  1. Implicit vs. Explicit memory
  2. Declarative vs. Procedural memory
  3. Semantic vs. Episodic memory

 

 

 

 

 Types of MemoryMemory

 

Implicit vs. Explicit Memory

Implicit memory is information that is remembered unconsciously and effortlessly.   Information unconsciously enters the memory to affects thoughts and behavior, thus allowing someone to do things by rote.  It is where previous experiences aid in the performance of a task without conscious awareness of these previous experiences.

Example: If you visited your aunt’s house when you were eight years old, then 20 years later you remember exactly how to get to the kitchen.

 

Explicit memory is conscious, intentional remembering of information.  Basically, it is information that you have to consciously work to remember.

Example:  Remembering a phone number or an address.

 

Explicit and implicit memory

 

 

Declarative vs. Procedural Memory

Declarative memory is recall of factual information such as dates, words, faces, events, and concepts.

Example: Remembering the capital of Connecticut, the rules for playing football, and what happened in the last game of the World Series involves declarative memory.

NOTE:  Declarative memory is usually considered to be explicit because it involves conscious, intentional remembering.

 

Procedural memory is recall of how to perform an action, task, or skill.

Example:  changing a light bulb or riding a bike

NOTE:  Procedural memory is usually considered implicit because people do not have to consciously remember how to perform actions or skills.

 

 

Semantic vs. Episodic Memory

Declarative memory can be segmented into two types: semantic and episodic

Semantic memory is recall of general facts.

Example: Remembering the capital of New Jersey and the batting average for Jackie Robinson.

 

Episodic memory is recall of personal experiences.

Example: Remembering what happened in the happened during a birthday party or baseball game.

 

 

 

Related Links

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Memory Techniques

Causes of Forgetting

Encoding Information into Memory

Types of Attention

Memorization vs understanding

The Learning Pyramid

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s pyramid

 

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Memory

MemoryM

 Human Memory

Human Memory is the processes that are used to acquire, store, retain and later retrieve information.  It involves three domains: encoding, storage, and retrieval.

 

Encoding is the process of getting information into memory. If information or stimuli never gets encoded, it will never be remembered.  Encoding requires linking new information to existing knowledge in order to make the new information more meaningful.  The quality of remembering or retrieving information later is directly linked to the degree with which new information can be connected or assimilated with existing knowledge.  Selective attention explains why we may encode some stimuli and not others.  Encoding is also affected by divided attention, which occurs when a person is paying attention to more than one thing at the same time.

 

Storage consists of retention of information over time.  It is believed that we can accumulate information in three main storage areas that vary according to time frames: sensory, short-term (or working), and long-term.

 

Retrieval is the process of getting information out of memory.  The ability to access and retrieve information from memory allows us to actually use these memories to make decisions, interact with others, and solve problems.

 

 

Three Functions for Storage

Human Memory is divided into three functions for storage:

sensory

short-term (or working) 

long-term

 

Because there is no need for us to remember everything we experience, the different stages of human memory function as a sort of filter.  The first stage is Sensory Memory which holds information coming in through the senses for a period ranging from a fraction of a second to several seconds.  Information is held long enough to process.  It can hold vast amount, but only briefly.  The Sensory memory allows a visual image, a sound, or a touch to linger for a brief moment after the stimulation is over.  That mental image or sensation is then stored in short-term memory. 

Short Term  (now referred to as Working) is the second stage of human memory which holds about seven (5-9) items for less than 30 seconds without rehearsal.  Working memory is the mental workspace we use to keep in mind tasks we are thinking about at any given moment.  Working memory is what we are thinking about or aware of at a certain moment.  It is used to have conversations, solve problems, and remember to complete task. 

Long-Term is the relatively permanent system with a virtually unlimited capacity.

 

Sensory  Holds information coming in through the senses for a period ranging from a fraction of a second to several seconds
Short Term  (STM)Working Memory Holds about seven items for no more than 20 or 30 seconds at a time without rehearsal.
Long-Term  (LTM) Holds information for a long period of time with a virtually unlimited capacity

 

 


Memory flow

 

Sensory

The sensory memory retains an exact copy of what is seen or heard but it only lasts for a few seconds milliseconds after an item is perceived.  It has unlimited capacity, but information is stored very briefly in the sensory area. We attend to only certain aspects of sensory information, allowing some of this information to pass into the next stage which is short-term or working.  Visual sensory memory is called iconic memory, and auditory sensory is called echoic memory.

 

 

Short-term or Working 

Paying attention to sensory memories generates the information in short-term or Working memory.  Selective attention determines what information moves from sensory to short-term.  Short-term or Working memory allows recall for a period of several seconds to a minute without rehearsal.  The capacity of short term is very limited.  It is thought to be about seven bits in length, that is, we normally remember seven items. However, capacity can be increased through a process called chunking.  

STM provides a working space for short computations and then transfers it to other parts of the brain or discards it.  Information lasts up to 30 seconds, but this can also be expanded by maintenance rehearsal.  Researchers have introduced the concept of working memory, a system that holds information while we are thinking.  Rather than being just a temporary information storage system, it is an active system.  Information can be kept in this area while people process or examine it.

The storage in both sensory and working memory generally have a strictly limited capacity and duration, which means that information is available only for a certain period of time, but is not retained indefinitely.  While many of our short-term memories are quickly forgotten, attending to this information allows it to continue on the next stage which is long term.

 

 

Long Term

Long-Term Memory (LTM) is relatively permanent storage.  LTM can store large quantities of information for potentially unlimited duration, and we can efficiently retrieve information from long-term memory.  Unlike sensory and working memory, which are limited and decay rapidly, long-term can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.  Information is stored on the basis of meaning and importance.  LTM has been classified into many types of memories, based on the content and purpose of the information.

Information in long-term memory that can be verbally communicated is called declarative or explicit memory. Episodic memory is the retention of information about the where and when of life’s happenings; semantic memory is a person’s knowledge about the world.

 

 

Long term memory chart

 

 

Non-declarative or implicit memory:  subsystem within long-term memory consisting of skills acquired through repetitive practice, habits, and simple classically conditioned responses.  Non-declarative refers to memory in which behavior is affected by prior experience without that experience being consciously recollected.

 

Declarative or explicit memory:  subsystem within long-term memory that stores facts, information and personal life experiences

Episodic:  subpart of declarative memory that contains memories of personally experienced events

Semantic:  subpart of declarative memory that stores general knowledge; our mental encyclopedia/dictionary

 

 

Memory to long term

 

Related Links

Memory

Classification of Memory

Memory Process

Stages of Memory

Types of Memory

Memory Techniques

Causes of Forgetting

Encoding Information into Memory

Paying Attention and Memory

Types of Attention

 

 

 

Author:  James Kelly,  September 2011

 

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