Memory plays a very important role in our
learning and psychological growth. Through
memory of our past experiences, we handle
new situations, it helps us in our relearning,
problem solving and thinking.
In the world of psychology “ it is the ability
or power of our mind to store the past
experiences of learning and utilizing them
at a later stage is known as “Memory” .
Memory consist in remembering what has
previously been learned. (Woodworth &
TYPES OF MEMORY
1. Sensory Memory or immediate Memory :
holds sensory information for less than one
second after an item is perceived. The ability to
look at an item and remember what it looked
like with just a split second of observation, or
memorization, is the example of sensory
memory. It is out of cognitive control and is an
E.g. when you make a call over a phone you
will remember the number only as long as you
dial it and soon after you forget it.
Functions of Sensory Memory
Prevents being overwhelmed
Gives decision time
Provides stability, playback, and recognition
Three types of sensory memories exist.
A) Iconic memory is a fast decaying store of
visual (through eyes) information; a type of sensory
memory that briefly stores an image which has
been perceived for a small duration.
B) Econic memory is a fast decaying store of
auditory information( through ears), another type of
sensory memory that briefly stores sounds that
have been perceived for short durations.
C) Haptic memory is a type of sensory memory
that represents a database for touch stimuli.
This type of memory also is a temporary one
and will last only for about 20-30 seconds.
More information can be stored in short term
memory by the process called “Chunking”.
Here the information is stored in the form of
chunks and in such cases the memory can
last a longer time.
Up to about 7 chunks and in short term
E.g.- chunks can be used to teach spellings
to children like the spelling of lollipop can be
learnt and memorized as lo-lli-pop. Similarly
some numbers can be memorized more
easily using chunks.
3. Long-term memory
Long-term memory can store much larger quantities
of information for potentially unlimited duration
(sometimes a whole life span). Long term memory
codes information according to meaning, pattern
and other characteristics.
For example, given a random seven-digit number
we may remember it for only a few seconds before
forgetting, suggesting it was stored in our short-
On the other hand, we can remember telephone
numbers for many years through repetition; this
information is said to be stored in long-term
Types of long term memory
Long term memory can be categorized into
declarative and procedural Memory.
Declarative memory/ Explicit memory:
Memories for specific information
e.g., what you ate for breakfast, material presented
Procedural memory/ Implicit memory:
Memories of how to perform tasks
e.g., reading, riding a bicycle, dialing a friend's
Declarative memory further divided into semantic
memory and episodic memory
Subcategory of declarative/explicit memory
Episodic Memory: memory related to our personal
affairs like name, our father’s name, date of birth and
other personal data of birth etc.
Semantic memory: it comprises of our knowledge
and information related to the world.
-For example 2x2=4 or earth is round.
Nature of memory
The fundamental characteristics of
• Memory involves input: Retention of the
memory traces of the original experience.
• Storage : It is either temporary or permanent.
• Output: The revival (bringing back) of stored
Process of memory
• Memory is a complex process which involves
learning, retention, recall and recognition.
• The process of memorization can be
organized as follows;
1. Encoding/ Registration: It refers to a process
to translate the sensory information into a coded
form that can be easily stored and reproduced
when the need arises. Every bit of information is
transformed to engrams and codes for the
storage. One can memorize anything using any
2. Storage/ retention: It is the power of
retention. These are the encoded message.
3. Retrieval/ recall: It is the reproduction of the
encoded message as and when required using
the process of remembering.
4. Recognition: Refers to the recalled
experience at the conscious level is the same
from which the individual wanted to recall and
had experience earlier. Recall provides the
material in memory while recognition is the
process of accepting or rejecting it.
E.g: Remembering a person’s name
Factors influencing memory
The factors influencing memory are divided into extrinsic
factors and intrinsic factors.
• Age of the individual: Memory span increases between
• 16 – 26 years of age. Youngsters can remember better
than the aged.
• Will to learn:
• Interest and attention:
• Rest and sleep:
• Medical conditions:
Brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Emotional factor- anxiety, fear, stress etc.
Meaningfulness of material
Amount of material
Time required to vocalize response
Liking for teachers
Challenges from some significant person.
Monotonous nature of the material learnt
Attitudes of parents, facilities available for
Theories of Memory
Memory Trace Theory- According to this
theory everything which we encounter or
experience is recorded in the form of
Theory of general Memory functions-
This theory is a simple theory agreed
on by most psychologists. Three distinct
processes of memory have been identified.
These are an Encoding process, a
storage process and a retrieval process.
Information Processing Theory-
This theory was developed by Richard Athinson and
Richard Shiffrin according to this theory memory starts
with sensory input from environment ( vision, hearing,
taste, touch and smell)
This input is held for a very brief time-
for few seconds.
This information recognized in the sensory register may
be passed to short term memory. ( 20-30sec )
Some of the information reaching short term memory is
processed by being rehearsed.
Rehearsed information passed along to long term
memory. Information not rehearsed is lost.
The information in long term memory will be organized
into categories where they may reside for days, months,
years or for life time. When the information is needed it is
retrieved from LTM.
This theory was criticized for being too
LTM is believed to be actually made up of
multiple sub components, such as episodic
and procedural memory.
This theory proposes that rehearsal is the
only mechanism by which information
reaches long term storage. But evidence
shows that remembering happens even
Levels of processing theory
The levels of processing model (Craik and Lockhart,
1972) focuses on the depth of processing involved in
memory, and predicts the deeper information is
processed, the longer a memory trace will last.
Craik defined depth as:
"the meaningfulness extracted from the stimulus rather
than in terms of the number of analyses performed
It is a non-structured approach. The basic idea of this
theory is that memory is really just happens as a result
of processing information.
Memory is just a by-product of the depth of processing
of information, and there is no clear distinction between
short term and long term memory.
We can process information in 3 ways:
- This takes two forms of verbal processing
1. Structural processing (appearance) which is
when we encode only the physical qualities of
E.g. the typeface of a word or how the letters
2. Phonemic processing – processing the
sounds of words.
Shallow processing only involves maintenance
rehearsal and leads to fairly short-term retention
- This involves
3. Semantic processing, which happens when we
process the meaning of a word and relate it to similar
words with similar meaning.
Deep processing involves elaboration rehearsal which
involves a more meaningful analysis (e.g. images,
thinking, associations etc.) of information and leads to
For example, giving words a meaning or linking them
with previous knowledge.
The idea that the way information is encoded affects
how well it is remembered. The deeper the level of
processing, the easier the information is to recall.
Methods of Memorizing
1.Recitation Method: The learner reads a content once
or twice , then tries to recites and recall. It helps in self
appraisal and self evaluation and the learner can write
down the points that he is unable to recall.
2. Whole and Part Method: memorizing from beginning
to end at stretch or part by part. Like memorizing a
Poem. It has merits and demerits. The learner can use
a combined method by starting the poem with whole
and difficult areas can be learned as part.
3. Spaced and Unspaced method: It follows the
principle of work and rest. After memorizing something
for a period of time, some rest is provided, and
continues the memorization again.
Development/Improvement of memory.
Learning and recall can be improved by training.
Follow the techniques;
1. Recitation and Practice- this practice will help to store the
information in brain for a longer time.
2. Grouping and rhythm – any thing learned through grouping
and in rhythmical pattern will be remember better. e.g. phone
no. 564582 can be easily remembered when grouped as 56,
3.When recalling free the mind from fear and anxiety.
4.Have confidence in self and maintain positive attitude.
5.Don’t fight with memory in recalling. Give time.
6.Interests and attention influence memorization.
7.Adopt proper methods of memorization.
8.Follow the principle of association.
9.Utilize many senses to learn.
10.Maintain external (envt.) and internal factors
11.Proper Rest, Practice and Repetition.
12. Learning situation- Material learned under
situation of peace and comfort will be retained more
effectively. E.g.- comfortable sitting arrangements,
• Forgetting is the loss( permanent or
temporary) of the ability to recall or recognize
something learnt earlier.
• Forgetting is the failure of the individual to
revive in consciousness an idea or group of
ideas without the help of the original stimulus.
Types of Forgetting
Natural Forgetting: Forgetting occurs with lapse of
time in quite normal way without any intention.
Morbid Forgetting: Deliberate try to forget something.
This may be the result of repression.
General Forgetting: Total loss of recalling some
Specific Forgetting: forgets only one or the other
specific part of his earlier learning.
Amnesia: This type of forgetfulness may be either
Physical (age, diseases, accidents, intoxication etc.) or
Psychological(stress, anxiety, apathy, conflicts etc.).
Theories of Forgetting
The memory Traces Decay Theory:
The interference Theory.
The repression or motivated forgetting
The memory Traces Decay
Trace decay theory states that forgetting occurs
as a result of the automatic decay or fading of
the memory trace.
Trace decay theory focuses on time and the
limited duration of short term memory.
This theory suggests short term memory can
only hold information for between 15 and 30
seconds unless it is rehearsed. After this time the
information / trace decays and fades away.
It is widely believed that neurons die off gradually
as we age, yet some older memories can be
stronger than most recent memories. Thus,
decay theory mostly affects the short-term
Long-term memory is often more resistant to
shocks or physical attacks on the brain.
The interference Theory.
We forget something because what we have learnt
previously interferes with the remembering of what
we learn afterwards.
Proactive interference (pro=forward) occurs when a
person cannot learn a new task because of an old
task that had been learnt. What we already know
interferes with what we are currently learning –
where old memories disrupt new memories.
Retroactive interference (retro=backward) occurs
when a person forget a previously learnt task due to
the learning of a new task. In other words, later
learning interferes with earlier learning - where new
memories disrupt old memories.
The repression or motivated forgetting
It is suggested by Sigmund Freud.
Repression is a mental function that
safeguards the mind from the impact of
By result we push the unpleasant and
painful memories into the unconscious
and thus try to avoid consciously the conflicts
that bother us.
This is well motivated and intentional.
This is because we like to see the world
around us as quite pleasant and reasonable.
Eg. We forget the death of dearest
ones/relatives and friends.
Implications for Nurses
• A nurse should always remember that a
thing well learnt are remembered well.
• Forgetfulness is not bad all times.
• Should understand there is no magic cure,
pills or any other medications to improve
the memory as some advertisements claim.
• Memory can be improved only by hard work
• Understand that forgetfulness is natural
phenomena and treat the patients
accordingly, especially old age.
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