Take a deeper look into human memory (2023)

Memory refers to the psychological processes of acquiring, storing, storing, and then retrieving information. There are three main processes involved in memory: encoding, storage, and retrieval.

Human memory involves the ability to store and retrieve information. However, this is not a perfect process. Sometimes people forget things or misremember them. In other cases, the information is not correctly encoded in memory in the first place.

Memory problems are usually relatively minor annoyances, like forgetting birthdays. However, they can also be a sign of serious illnesses, such asAlzheimer diseaseand other kinds ofcraziness🇧🇷 These conditions affect quality of life and functionality.

This article describes how memories are formed and why they are sometimes forgotten. It also covers the different types of memory and steps you can take to improve and protect your memory.

how memories are made

To create a new memory, the information must be converted into a usable form, which is done through a process calledcoding🇧🇷 Once the information has been successfully encoded, it must be stored in memory for later use.

Researchers have long believed that memories are formed due to changes in the brain.neurons(Neurons). Our current understanding is that memories are created through the existing connections between these neurons, either by strengthening those connections or by creating new connections.

Changes in the connections between nerve cells (so-calledsynapse) are associated with learning and retaining new information. Strengthening these connections helps retain information in memory.

Because of this, reviewing and practicing the information improves your ability to remember it. Exercise strengthens the connections between the synapses that store that memory.

Much of our stored memory is outside of our awareness most of the time, except when we really need it. The memory retrieval process allows us to consciously perceive stored memories.

How long-term memory retrieval works

How long do the memories last?

You can't discuss what memory is without also discussing how long memories last. Some memories are very short, lasting only a few seconds, and allow people to absorb sensory information about the world.

Short-term memory is a bit longer, lasting 20-30 seconds. These memories consist primarily of the information that people are currently concentrating on and thinking about.

Some memories can last much longer: days, weeks, months, or even decades. Most of these long-term memories are outside of immediate awareness, but can be drawn into it.awarenessif required.

Why do we remember painful memories?

Have you often noticedpainful memoriestend to stay for long periods of time? Research suggests this is due to increased biological arousal during the negative experience, increasing the longevity of that memory.

use memory

To use the information encoded in memory, it must first be retrieved. Many factors can affect this process, including the type of information used and any recall notices present.

Of course, this process is not always perfect. For example, have you ever felt like the answer to a question was just out of reach? This is an example of a memory confusion problem known asletologicalor the phenomenon of the tip of the tongue.

Lethologic or tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon

memory organization

The ability to access and recall information from long-term memory allows us to use those memories to make decisions, interact with others, andsolve problems🇧🇷 But to be accessible, memories need to be organized somehow.

One way to think about the organization of memory is the semantic network model. This model proposes that certain triggers activate associated memories.Seeing or remembering a specific place can trigger memories that occurred in that place.

For example, when you think of a specific building on campus, it can bring up memories of attending classes, learning, and connecting with your peers.

Sometimes certain stimuli can also act as powerful triggers, bringing memories to consciousness.Aromais an example. Smelling a specific scent, such as perfume or freshly baked cookies, can trigger a flood of vivid memories related to people and events from the past.

To identify an odor, a person must remember when they smelled it before, and then associate it with visual information that occurred at the same time. So when areas of the brain linked to memory are damaged, the ability to recognize odors is affected.

At the same time, the researchers found that smells can help trigger autobiographical memories in people with Alzheimer's.This underlines how powerful memories can be.

memory types

Although several different memory models have been proposed, thememory level modelit is often used to explain the basic structure and function of memory. Originally proposed by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in 1968, this theory describes three separate stages omemory types: sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.

sensory memory

sensory memory It is the initial stage of memory. During this phase, sensory information from the environment is stored for a very short period of time, typically no more than half a second.visual informationand three or four seconds for auditory information.

Humans only pay attention to certain aspects of this sensory memory. If you take care of sensory memory, some of that information can move on to the next stage: short-term memory.

Types of sensory memory and experiments.

short term memory

Short-term memory, also known as working memory, is information that we are aware of or thinking about. In Freudian psychology, this memory would be called theawareness🇧🇷 Attention to sensory memories creates information in short-term memory.

While many of our short-term memories are quickly forgotten, paying attention to this information allows them to move to the next level: long-term memory. Most of the information stored in active memory is retained for about 20-30 seconds.

This ability can be improved with somethingmemory strategies such as fragmentation, in which related information is grouped into smaller blocks.

The term "short-term memory" is often used interchangeably with "working memory," which refers to the processes used to temporarily store, organize, and manipulate information.

In a famous article published in 1956, the psychologist George Miller suggested that the capacity of short-term memory to hold a list of items ranged from five to nine. Some memory researchers now believe that the true short-term memory capacity is probably closer to four.

What is short term memory?

long term memory

Long-term memory refers to the continuous storage of information. In itfreudian psychology, long-term memory would be called preconscious andunconscious.

This information is mostly outside of our awareness, but can be pulled from working memory for use when needed. Some memories are fairly easy to retrieve, while others are much more difficult to access.


One model suggests that there are three main types of memory: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Sensory memory is very short, short-term memory is slightly longer, and long-term memory can last a lifetime.

What is long-term memory?

why did we forget

Forgetting is a surprisingly common occurrence. Remember how easy it is to forget someone's name or an important date. Why do people so often forget information they learned in the past?

There are four basic explanations forwhy forgetting happens:

  • Could not save memory
  • interference
  • motivated forgetting
  • recovery error

Research has shown that one of the critical factors affecting memory decline is time. Information is often quickly forgotten, especially if the information is not actively reviewed and rehearsed.

Sometimes the information is simply lost from memory, and other times it was never properly memorized. Some memories compete with each other, making it difficult to remember specific information. In other cases active peopletry to forget thingsThey just don't want to remember.

What causes memory loss?

how to improve memory

No matter how good your memory is, there are probably some things you can do to improve it even more. Helpful strategies for dealing with mild memory loss include:

  • scribe: Writing with pencil and paper helps implant memory in your brain, and can also serve as a reminder or reference later.
  • give it a meaning: You can remember something a little easier if you assign meaning to it. For example, if you associate someone you just met with someone you already know, you may be able to remember their name better.
  • to repeat: Repetition helps encode memory beyond your short-term memory.
  • group: Categorized information is easier to remember and remember.
  • test yourself: Although it may seem like studying and practicing information is the best way to make sure you remember it, researchers have found that testing information is actually one of the best waysimprove memory.
  • make a mental picture: Trying to systematically remember things you tend to forget (for example, where you left your car keys) can help you remember things better.
  • get enough rest: This has also been shown by researchto sleepplays a crucial role in learning and forming new memories.
  • Use memorization techniques.: Rehearsing information, using mnemonics, and other memorization strategies can help combat minor memory problems.


The use of strategies to improve memory can be helpful in remembering and retaining. By learning to use these strategies effectively, you can bypass bad areas of your memory and train your brain to work in new ways.

How to protect your memory

Although Alzheimer's disease and other age-related memory problems affect many older adults,memory lossin later adulthood it may not be inevitable.Certain abilities decline with age, but researchers have found that people in their 70s often do as well as 20-year-olds on many cognitive tests.

As people reach their 80s, it is common to experience some decline in cognitive function. But some types of memory improve with age.

Try some of these lifestyle strategies to protect your brain as you age:

  • avoid stress: Research has found that stress can have deleterious effects on memory-related areas of the brain, including the hippocampus.
  • Avoid drugs, alcohol and other neurotoxins.:consumption of drugsmiexcessive alcohol consumptionhave been linked to deterioration of synapses (the connections between neurons).Exposure to dangerous chemicals like heavy metals and pesticides can also have damaging effects on the brain.
  • move enough:regular physical activityhelps improve oxygenation of the brain, which is vital for synaptic formation and growth.
  • stimulate your brain: When it comes to memory, there is a lot of truth to the old adage “use it or lose it”. The researchers found that people who have morementally stimulating jobsless likely to develop dementia.
  • Maintain a sense of self-efficacy.: With a strong sense ofself-efficacyit has been linked to maintaining good memory skills into old age.Self-efficacy refers to the sense of control that people have over their own lives and destinies. A strong sense of self-efficacy has also been linked to reduced stress levels.


While there's no quick fix to ensure your memory remains intact as you age, researchers believe that avoiding stress, maintaining an active lifestyle, and staying mentally engaged are important ways to reduce your risk of memory loss.

A word from Verywell

Human memory is a complex process that researchers are still trying to better understand. Our memories make us who we are, but the process is not perfect. Although we are capable of retaining a surprising amount of information, we are also prone to memory-related mistakes and mistakes.

Natural ways to improve memory.


What idea did Craik and Lockhart propose about deeper levels of? ›

Craik and Lockhart (1972) argued that deep processing leads to better long-term memory than shallow processing.

What is a memory short answer? ›

Memory is the process of taking in information from the world around us, processing it, storing it and later recalling that information, sometimes many years later.

What is the importance of memory in human life? ›

In its simplest form, memory refers to the continued process of information retention over time. It is an integral part of human cognition, since it allows individuals to recall and draw upon past events to frame their understanding of and behavior within the present.

What is the Craik experiment? ›

Craik and Tulving conducted an experiment to determine whether the level of processing has an influence on recall. They used the incidental learning paradigm in their studies, which is when participants are not told explicitly that they will be tested.

What is Craig and Lockhart memory model? ›

The Levels of Processing model, created by Fergus I. M. Craik and Robert S. Lockhart in 1972, describes memory recall of stimuli as a function of the depth of mental processing. Deeper levels of analysis produce more elaborate, longer-lasting, and stronger memory traces than shallow levels of analysis.

What does human memory mean? ›

Memory is today defined in psychology as the faculty of encoding, storing, and retrieving information (Squire, 2009). Psychologists have found that memory includes three important categories: sensory, short-term, and long-term.

What are the 3 types of memory? ›

The main forms of memory presented include sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.

What is memory one word? ›

memory, remembrance, recollection, reminiscence mean the capacity for or the act of remembering, or the thing remembered. memory applies both to the power of remembering and to what is remembered.

What are the three levels of processing according to Craik and Lockhart? ›

The levels — structural processing, phonemic processing, and semantic processing — were defined by Robert Lockhart and Fergus Craik in the early 1970s.

What is the main idea of the levels of processing theory? ›

The levels of processing model counters the idea that mere repetition helps us retain information long-term. Instead, it suggests that information that is encoded on a deeper level, through meaningful association, is easier to remember.

What is one explanation that Craik and his colleagues propose for why a deep level of processing leads to greater recall? ›

What is one explanation that Craik and his colleagues propose for the reason why a deep level of processing leads to greater recall? Deep levels make the stimulus different from other memory traces in the system; it's more distinctive.

What are the three levels of processing according to Craik and Lockhart 1972? ›

According to the modal model (Murdock, 1967), it is now 671 Page 2 672 CRAIK AND LOCKHART widely accepted that memory can be classified into three levels of storage: sensory stores, short-term memory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM).


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edmund Hettinger DC

Last Updated: 16/10/2023

Views: 6281

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edmund Hettinger DC

Birthday: 1994-08-17

Address: 2033 Gerhold Pine, Port Jocelyn, VA 12101-5654

Phone: +8524399971620

Job: Central Manufacturing Supervisor

Hobby: Jogging, Metalworking, Tai chi, Shopping, Puzzles, Rock climbing, Crocheting

Introduction: My name is Edmund Hettinger DC, I am a adventurous, colorful, gifted, determined, precious, open, colorful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.