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Overview of Memory Types in Humans

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Psychology
Wordcount: 3351 words Published: 9th Nov 2021

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Working of Human Memory

Memory involves the manner information is coded, reserved, and recalled. The practice of remembering things that one has previously learned and recalling of the previous experiences include significant elements of human memories. The brain of humans is known never to end learning. The process of retrieving what human has learned provides them with different things of remembering. The mind of humans can retain information through using the process involving recreation of the past circumstances in the neural connection of the human mind, which were present during times of first occurrences. Memory usually plays a critical role in the life of a human as it affects the communication ability and motor skills of a human. The fundamental pattern of remembering information is made up of attention to a given event, which is followed by the representation of the event in the brain of a human. Memory is essential to a meaningful life; it is the capacity to store, retain, organize, and recall information from past experiences and learning that is essential to one's ability to operate as a conscious being.

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How We Make Memory


Memory encoding includes the initial stage involving the creation of new memories. The process of encoding usually enables a perceived subject that is of interest for it to become converted into any particular construct, which may then be stored in the human brain and later be recalled from the long-term or short-term memory. The encoding process entails a biological process beginning with perception via the senses. Any process involving laying down consciousness begins with attention whereby any memorable event will result in causing neurons beginning firing more often, which makes the experience become more expensive and raising the likelihood of having the event become encoded in the form of memory. Emotion usually tends increasing attention as well as the emotional aspect of the given function that is processed following any given unconscious pathway from the human brain, which leads to the amygdala (Dudukovic & Kuhl, 2017). It is only then the right sensations become derived from the processed event.  The encoding process starts with perception that includes the organization, identification as well as interpretation of certain sensory information to develop its understanding within a specific context of a given environment (McDermott & Roediger, 2018). Any given stimuli get perceived by available senses, and the associated signals start traveling to the human beings' thalamus where they become synthesized into a superior experience. 

The hippocampus part of the human brain then starts analyzing this experience by deciding its value in committing to long-term memory. The process involving encoding becomes attained through the use of electric and chemical impulses developed in the brain. The neural pathways and the connections between brain cells are strengthened and created through the process known as long-term potentiating that changes the manner information flows within the human brain. While a person faces novel sensations or events, their mind starts rewiring itself for it to store the new experiences in the memory. There exist four significant types of encoding: semantic, elaborative, acoustic, and visual.  The visual encoding entails the process involving encoding images as well as visual sensory data. The development of mental images includes a significant way in which individuals utilize visual encoding. The kind of information that is developed during visual encoding becomes temporary stored in the iconic memory, whereby it is transferred to the long-term kind of mind for storage. 

Visual encoding is mainly facilitated by the amygdale part of the human brain.  Acoustic encoding involves the utilization of the auditory hearing or stimuli during implanting of memories. The phonological loop mainly assists this. The process, including the phonological loop, involves rehearsing of sounds into sub-vocals for them to be remembered.  The elaborative type of encoding process usually utilizes the information which has been known, and it is connected to any new information which people are experiencing. The semantic encoding includes typically the utilization of the sensory input, which is associated with a given meaning or may become applied to any specific context. Mnemonics and chunking help the semantic encoding. At a given time, optimal retrieval and deep processing take place.

Types of Memory

Explicit Memory

The type of information that an individual has to put effort into remembering consciously is regarded as explicit memory. Thus, when an individual is attempting to remember something with intentions, the information becomes stored in their explicit memory. Individuals typically utilize the explicit kind of memories in their daily lives, starting from remembering information for an individual test towards recalling the time and date for any given appointment. In many cases, explicit memory is also regarded as a declarative type of memory offered that an individual may be involved in conscious recalling and explaining the information they come across.

Episodic Memory

Episodic memory refers to the unique memory of a person about a particular event, which makes it vary from the recollection of a similar memory by another individual regarding the same kind of experience.   Episodic memory may, at times, be mistaken with the type of autobiographical memory. Autobiographical memory typically depends on both semantic and episodic memory.  The formation of episodic memory usually entails many particular stages that involve a different system of the human brain. The initial phase during the formation of episodic memory is known as consolidation that includes the creation of an event to become a long-term kind of memory.  This assists typically the memory is becoming more firmly ingrained such that it does not become lost when the brain experiences any given impairment. The episodic memory may be affected by tumors, trauma, neurological illness, and hydrocephalus. The final process of the creation of episodic memory entails recollection. 

The process of recollection usually elicits the retrieval of the contextual information that pertains to a certain incident. At times the remembrance that is made from the long-term memory becomes retrieved in an effortless way, while at given times, it may be required to develop some kind of triggering force. Individuals are generally able to relate specific details with the episodic memory like how they feel the place and the time, and other significant particulars.

Semantic Memory

Semantic memory entails a given portion regarding long-term concepts, ideas, and processes that are not drawn from any personal experiences. The semantic memory includes typically the things which are of common knowledge like the color names, letter sounds, and the fundamental facts which have been obtained over a lifetime.  There usually is a given steady movement of human memories from episodic to semantic, mostly during childhood, as people are learning many new things.  Semantic kind of memory becomes derived from the occasional memory given that there are original concepts and facts from their experiences, and the episodic memory is regarded as helping through the provision of reinforcement to the creation of semantic memory.

Implicit Memory

Implicit memory includes the storing of the things which individuals do not purposely attempt to remember. Implicit memory is regarded as being both unintentional and unconscious

Procedural Memory

Procedural memory entails a part of long-term memory, which has the role of allowing individuals to know different ways of doing things.  Procedural memory usually stores information regarding methods of performing specific procedures like talking and walking. An individual’s delving into something which is in their procedural memory does not entail conscious thought. The procedural memory includes the main subject related to the implicit memory as it relies on using past events in remembering things without necessarily thinking about them (Yee, Jones, & McRae, 2018). In the human brain, the parietal cortex, cerebellum, and prefrontal context usually are engaged in the process involving the learning of motor skills. However, the cerebellum is generally regarded as the most crucial section of the human brain as it is required to facilitate the coordination of the flow of the movements needed for the skilled motion as well as movement timing.

Classical Conditioning Effects

Classical conditioning effects entail a kind of implicit memory through which people learn in many cases having no awareness or effort to relate neutral stimuli with any other given stimulus that develops a response that is naturally occurring. The main memory from this kind of association is mainly demonstrated whenever a particular conditioned stimulus starts the creation process of a similar reaction to the stimulus that is unconditioned, which is done before learning. 


Priming includes the effect of implicit memory from which the exposure to any given stimulus affects the response until it comes across later stimulus.  Implicit memory is an approach in the field of psychology that is utilized in training an individual's memory in both negative and positive manners.  The actual utilization of the priming memory typically includes the use of words, sketches, or any other stimuli in assisting a person in recognizing another phrase or word in the future. It is generally known that it is not necessary for the priming to have the researchers asking their subjects to start memorizing given word sequences given that it takes advantage of the word connections when the items are given the prime priority. Even if simple recognition tests of memory my become conducted for one main reason, the priming effects are generally long-lasting and may become more pronounced. The results related to priming may profoundly affect the subject's choices of a given experiment.

On the other hand, negative priming usually slows down the process of creating a memory. The mind of a human being may become negatively primed through exposing the individual to a different stimulus before assuming the available stimuli ultimately.  Whenever the brain of human attempts retrieving any ignored information: there is an occurrence of conflict.  This kind of conflict usually takes a lot of time for it to resolve, which leads to the experiencing of negative priming. There exists a significant difference between conceptual and perceptual priming (Dudukovic & Kuhl, 2017). Perceptual kind of priming is connected to the stimulus’ form, which becomes increased through the matches between the late and early stimuli. The type of conceptual priming depends on the central meaning given to certain stimuli.

Stages of Memory


Sensory memory includes a brief keeping of the sensory information. Major role of sensory memory includes offering adequate brain time required for processing all incoming sensations and enabling people to view the world as containing a series of events rather than containing individual pieces of facts. 

Iconic Memory

Iconic memory refers to the visual sensory memories. The type of information that is developed during visual encoding becomes temporary stored in the iconic memory, whereby it is moved to the long-term kind of memory being stored. Visual encoding is mainly facilitated by the amygdala part of the human brain.

Echoic Memory

Echoic memory is also regarded as the auditory kind of sensory memory. Echoic memory involves the utilization of the auditory hearing or stimuli during implanting of memories (Huynh, 2016). The phonological loop mainly assists this. The process, including the phonological loop, involves rehearsing of sounds into sub-vocals for them to be remembered.

Eidetic Imagery

The phenomenon of eidetic imagery refers to the scenario whereby some individuals can have an extended type of iconic memory. People may report details about an image over an extended period.

Short-Term Memory

A lot of data that finds its way into the sensory memory becomes forgotten, but the information which people turn their attention to having the objective of remembering all of it can pass into the short-term kind of memory. The short-term memory (STM) includes the place whereby only small amounts, including information, may become temporarily stored for some seconds, which cannot exceed one minute. The information in STM is not permanently stored but instead becomes available for people to process it (Norris, 2017). Working memory refers to all the processes which individuals utilize in making sense of, interpreting, modifying, and information storing in STM. Working memory does not entail a particular kind of memory store, but it involves a significant set of given memory operations or procedures. STM is usually limited in the amount and the length of information, which it may hold. One common way used in preventing the decay of acquired knowledge from STM is through the utilization of working memory for it to rehearse it.  The process of maintenance rehearsal entails the process involved in repeating information mentally, having the intention of keeping the information in the memory.

Central Executive

Central executive refers to the section of the working memory, which directs processing and attention.   Central executive usually makes use of various approaches which seem to be the best for specific tasks.  For example, the central executive is responsible for directing the rehearsal processes as well as directing the visual cortex in creating a picture of the words in one’s memory (Shiffrin, 2018). Even though STM usually is involved in central executive, the processes which people utilize in working on given material in one's memory are essential. 

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Long-Term Memory

When information goes through STM, it can enter the long-term memory (LTM). LTM is made up of memory storage, which can hold data for some days, years, and even months.  The capacity which LTM has is large and does not have any given limit to what human may remember. Even though most people can forget certain information after learning it, other things will remain with them forever.  

Does Age Affect Memory

Age usually plays an essential role in a person's capability of creating a memory. Even infants frequently attain the ability to have a memory as they remember events. The older children can remember events that occurred before they are involved in a conversation. The young infants may remember certain events that occurred in their lives in all of their infantile-amnesia time, given that they become periodically reminded. At the time children reach the age of about 6-12 years, there is an increased likelihood that they will be utilizing the rehearsing or repetition method when they attempt remembering events that occurred throughout their lifetime (Pfeifer, Ward, Chan, & Sigala, 2016).  When individuals attain stages of young adulthood and adolescence, their memories become fully developed, given that they acquire the capability of accurately recalling information. While individuals start embarking upon their later adulthood, there exist considerable possibilities of having some interference by having some of the old memories that they have, especially the memories which they have not been highly utilized in later years.

Less Blood Flow

The reduced flow of the blood from the heart of old aged individuals results in more reduced circulation experienced in temporal lobes of the human brain that is a significant component of human memory. In people with old ages, their reductions in the cardiac function are associated with the abnormal changes in the brains of the adult. This affects memory as it leads to cognitive impairment.

Boosting Memory

It is crucial learning from new skills, new experiences, and further information. However, whatever a person has learned is fundamentally meaningless, given that they unable to remember it (Huynh, 2016). Thus, the practice of boosting memory is significant as it helps individuals in the retrieval or retaining of information in different manners.

Relearning Material

At certain times, a given memory has been identified to be neglected to have the brain retrieve it.  These kinds of neglected memories cannot be recalled, and the visual clues are not adequate for sparking recognition. However, there is a chance that the brain of a human is aware of the existence of the memory even if it finds it challenging to retrieve it (Loftus & Loftus, 2019). Thus, relearning becomes a critical practice that helps to boost the memory of a person. This makes it easier for the brain to retrieve the memory following relearning of a specific memory. 


The reactivation of human memory is a critical process that results from exposure to the salient training-associated information where a given memory is brought from its inactive state to an active state. The method of reactivation marks the initial step of retrieval of memory, although it may result from salient cues exposure having no given behavioral output.

Context-dependent learning

The context-dependent memory brings experiences, skills, and ideas that an individual requires minding when they are included in a similar context to the one they were during the first experience. Thus, when an individual learns a particular something in a given context, then it will be more comfortable to remember the learned something when it remains in a similar setting.  


Memories remain to be essential to human growth. In everyday life, there is learning that takes place in a given aspect or another as the brain of a human is involved in constant acquiring and processing of information. Most times, people are not conscious or aware of the many processes that take place in their brains. Information becomes continually being added to an individual's memory regardless of if the person will remember how to recall the acquired knowledge.  The ability to maintain information in long term memory involves strengthening the connection among the neurons in our brain.     


Dudukovic, N. M., & Kuhl, B. A. (2017). Cognitive control in memory encoding and retrieval. The Wiley handbook of cognitive control, 355-375.

Huynh, D. L. V. (2016). Capacity, Precision, and Representations of Sensory and Mnemonic Processing (Doctoral dissertation).

Loftus, G. R., & Loftus, E. F. (2019). Human memory: The processing of information. Psychology Press.

McDermott, K. B., & Roediger, H. L. (2018). Memory (encoding, storage, retrieval). General Psychology FA18117.

Norris, D. (2017). Short-term memory and long-term memory are still different — psychological bulletin143(9), 992.

Pfeifer, G., Ward, J., Chan, D., & Sigala, N. (2016). Aging and synaesthesia provide a window into the functions of sensory and higher cortical areas in working memory.

Shiffrin, R. M. (2018). Short-term store: The basis for a memory system. In Cognitive theory (pp. 193-218). Psychology Press.

Yee, E., Jones, M. N., & McRae, K. (2018). Semantic memory. Stevens' Handbook of Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience3, 1-38.


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