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Memory

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The study of human memory has been a subject of science and philosophy for thousands of years and has become one of the major topics of interest within cognitive psychology.
But what exactly is memory? How are memories formed? The following overview offers a brief look at what memory is, how it works and how it is organized.

The study of human memory has been a subject of science and philosophy for thousands of years and has become one of the major topics of interest within cognitive psychology.
But what exactly is memory? How are memories formed? The following overview offers a brief look at what memory is, how it works and how it is organized.

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Memory

  1. 1. by Col Mukteshwar Prasad(Retd), Mtech(IIT Delhi) ,CE(I),FIE(I),FIETE,FISLE,FInstOD,AMCSI Contact -+919007224278, e-mail -muktesh_prasad@yahoo.co.in for book ”Decoding Services Selection Board” and SSB guidance and training at Shivnandani Edu and Defence Academy,Kolkata,India
  2. 2. What Is Memory?  An Overview of Memory and How it Works  Have you ever wondered how you manage to remember information for a test?  The ability to create new memories, store them for periods of time and recall them when they are needed allows us to learn and interact with the world around us.  The study of human memory has been a subject of science and philosophy for thousands of years and has become one of the major topics of interest within cognitive psychology.  But what exactly is memory? How are memories formed? The following overview offers a brief look at what memory is, how it works and how it is organized.
  3. 3. What Is Memory?  What is Memory?  Memory refers to the processes that are used to acquire, store, retain and later retrieve information. There are three major processes involved in memory:  encoding,- In order to form new memories, information must be changed into a usable form, which occurs through the process known as encoding  storage, - Once information has been successfully encoded, it must be stored in memory for later use.  retrieval.- Much of this stored memory lies outside of our awareness most of the time, except when we actually need to use it. The retrieval process allows us to bring stored memories into conscious awareness.  The Stage Model of Memory  While several different models of memory have been proposed, the stage model of memory is often used to explain the basic structure and function of memory.  Initially proposed in 1968 by Atkinson and Shiffrin,  this theory outlines three separate stages of memory: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.
  4. 4. Stage Model of Memory  Sensory Memory Sensory memory is the earliest stage of memory.  During this stage, sensory information from the environment is stored for a very brief period of time, generally for no longer than a half-second for visual information and 3 or 4 seconds for auditory information.  We attend to only certain aspects of this sensory memory, allowing some of this information to pass into the next stage - short-term memory.  Short-Term Memory Short-term memory, also known as active memory, is the information we are currently aware of or thinking about.  In Freudian psychology, this memory would be referred to as the conscious mind. Paying attention to sensory memories generates the information in short-term memory.  Most of the information stored in active memory will be kept for approximately 20 to 30 seconds.  While many of our short-term memories are quickly forgotten, attending to this information allows it to continue on the next stage - long-term memory.
  5. 5. What Is Short-Term Memory?  The Capacity of Short-Term Memory  The amount of information that can be stored in short-term memory can vary.  An often cited figure is plus or minus seven items, based on the results of a famous experiment on short-term memory.  In an influential paper titled "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two," psychologist George Miller suggested that people can store between five and nine items in short-term memory.  More recent research suggests that people are capable of storing approximately four chunks or pieces of information in short-term memory.  Distinction Between Short-Term Memory and Working Memory  Short-term memory is often used interchangeably with working memory, but the two should be utilized separately.  Working memory refers to the processes that are used to temporarily store, organize and manipulate information.  Short-term memory, on the other hand, refers only to the temporary storage of information in memory.
  6. 6. Stage Model of Memory  Long-Term Memory Long-term memory refers to the continuing storage of information.  In Freudian psychology, long-term memory would be called the preconscious and unconscious.  This information is largely outside of our awareness, but can be called into working memory to be used when needed.  Some of this information is fairly easy to recall, while other memories are much more difficult to access.
  7. 7. What Is Long-Term Memory?  Types of Long-Term Memory  Long-term memory is usually divided into two types - declarative (explicit) memory and procedural (implicit) memory.  Declarative includes all of the memories that are available in consciousness.  Declarative memory can be further divided into episodic memory (specific events) and semantic memory (knowledge about the world).  Procedural memory involves memories of body movement and how to use objects in the environment. How to drive a car or use a computer are examples of procedural memories.
  8. 8. Organisation of Memory  The Organization of Memory  The ability to access and retrieve information from long-term memory allows us to actually use these memories to make decisions, interact with others and solve problems.  But how is information organized in memory?  The specific way information is organized in long-term memory is not well understood, but researchers do know that these memories are arranged in groups.
  9. 9. Organisation of Memory  Clustering is used to organize related information into groups.  Information that is categorized becomes easier to remember and recall. For example, consider the following group of words:  Desk, apple, bookshelf, red, plum, table, green, pineapple, purple, chair, peach, yellow Spend a few seconds reading them, then look away and try to recall and list these words. How did you group the words when you listed them? Most people will list using three different categories: color, furniture and fruit.  One way of thinking about memory organization is known as the semantic network model.  This model suggests that certain triggers activate associated memories.  A memory of a specific place might activate memories about related things that have occurred in that location.  For example, thinking about a particular campus building might trigger memories of attending classes, studying and socializing with peers.
  10. 10. Memory Retrieval  Encoded and Stored information in memory must be retrieved to be used for  Memory retrieval is important in virtually every aspect of daily life, from remembering where you parked your car to learning new skills.  There are many factors that can influence how memories are retrieved from long- term memory.  In order to fully understand this process, it is important to learn more about exactly what retrieval is as well as the many factors that can impact how memories are retrieved.  Memory Retrieval Basics  So what exactly is retrieval?  Simply put, it is a process of accessing stored memories.  When you are taking an exam, you need to be able to retrieve learned information from your memory in order to answer the test questions.  There are four basic ways in which information can be pulled from long-term memory.  The type of retrieval cues that are available can have an impact on how information is retrieved.  A retrieval cue is a clue or prompt that is used to trigger the retrieval of long-term memory.
  11. 11. Memory Retrieval…  Recall: This type of memory retrieval involves being able to access the information without being cued. Answering a question on a fill-in-the-blank test is a good example of recall.  Recollection: This type of memory retrieval involves reconstructing memory, often utilizing logical structures, partial memories, narratives or clues.  For example, writing an answer on an essay exam often involves remembering bits on information, and then restructuring the remaining information based on these partial memories.  Recognition: This type of memory retrieval involves identifying information after experiencing it again.  For example, taking a multiple-choice quiz requires that you recognize the correct answer out of a group of available answers.  Relearning: This type of memory retrieval involves relearning information that has been previously learned.  This often makes it easier to remember and retrieve information in the future and can improve the strength of memories.
  12. 12. Memory Retrieval…  Problems with Retrieval  The retrieval process doesn't always work perfectly.  Have you ever felt like you knew the answer to a question, but couldn't quite remember the information?  This phenomenon is known as a 'tip of the tongue' experience.  You might feel certain that this information is stored somewhere in your memory, but you are unable to access and retrieve it.  While it may be irritating or even troubling, research has shown that these experiences are extremely common, typically occurring at least once each week for most younger individuals and two to four times per week for elderly adults (Schacter, 2001).  In many cases, people can even remember details such as the first letter that the word starts with. (Brown, 1991).  Even though memory retrieval is not flawless, there are things that you can do to improve your ability to remember information.

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