From Stimuli to Long Term Memory

Table of Content

In general, memory is taken as a process in the brain, wherein encoding, storage and retrieving of data happens. Basically there are two general types of memory: explicit and implicit. As it names denotes explicit memory refers to clear information and usually to ‘first hand statements or declarations’. Thus, commonly explicit memory involves autobiographical information and information about general knowledge. On the other hand, implicit memory is concerned about performing an act or a task; these are memories that are involved in skills and habits or even conditioning. Endel Tulving in 1985, concluded that explicit memory can further be divided into two, the episodic and the semantic. The first type denotes memories of how things happen or take place while semantic refers to the meaning of things and explanation to events or ideas. Another system way of categorizing memory involves its function as they are being retrieved, remembered or recalled. The first category is retrospective memory which includes recalling the information that has happen. The other category is named as prospective memory which is concerned about remembering future possible actions.

What we know, intend to know and is currently doing are all processed by the psychological mechanisms of the brain. Some of this we can remember, many things we do not. The brain works instantly as it receive different types of stimuli either physical or chemical. These stimuli will be encoded to the brain and will be a part of sensory memory. As the brain grasp and process the information it may or might not be affected by decay if it will be rehearsed or repeated immediately, it will enter or become a short-term memory. When the short term memory is enhanced and enough attention is given, the information will be stored. This is the second step in the memory process. Storage happens when information is stored in the brain. When it is retained for a very long time, such memory will belong to long-term memory. To be able to make use of the information, the brain retrieves or recollect past memory,

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Nonetheless, there are three main steps by which memory are lost and/or forgotten. The first happens during the sensory memory wherein memory is not given enough attention or enough repetition, As William James (1950), explained that ‘consciousness is not a collection of bits and pieces of data rather a stream of thought’. Accordingly, the eyes work in what is called as ‘saccadic eye movement’. Such movement is described as ‘jump from one frame to another in more or less four times per second’. In sensory memory, information is retained in the mind for more than a second making everything seems fluid and continuous. As the information is selected from other information such that certain information are more focused on than the other, the memory will moved and become a part of short-term memory. To be able to retain the short-term memory it has to be used immediately for a minute or less.

If one has not been able to rehearse, this will result to interference. Interference is a process by which information is lost due to some other information that distracts or revert attention to other things. With regards to the Inference Theory, there are two basic types of Interference-Retroactive and Proactive Interference. Retroactive is an inhibition in the retrieval of old learning due to the presence of new information. Proactive Interference is simply the opposite, which is described as the interferences experienced when older learning interferes with the capability of the mind to process newly acquired information. To facilitate maximum absorption of information a person can do several rehearsal strategies. The most prominent seems to be the maintenance strategy of simply repeating the information again and again. However, this can also be coupled with ‘chunking’ or grouping the information into smaller chunks and memorizing one chunk at a time. A more useful strategy is to do ‘elaborative’ rehearsals which include the process of relating information to another material and/or forming and understanding the relationships that might possibly exist in the information.

It is important to note that there are other things that affect the preservation of memory. One of these is the ‘flashbulb memory wherein important details that are either surprising or emotionally charges information managed to be retrieved easier and are hard to forget. Another is the ‘concept-dependent memory’ wherein the process of recollection appears to be better if the information is in accordance to the context where it is presented or perceived. The last one is the ‘state-dependent memory’ wherein there are situations that heightens the retrieval of information such as recollection of how a certain wine taste just by its smell.

Nevertheless, memory is also subjected to forgetfulness. One them is absentmindedness, which is a situation that happens normally to people, who are doing, thinking or doing-thinking, two things at a time. While the mind process information from relatively two different stimuli, attention is divided. When this happens there is a tendency that the mind would focus to one and neglects the other. After a short period of time, when the information decay in the sensory part it will not be included in the short term memory and is therefore lost. Another type of forgetting happens when you are trying to say or explain something but it is at the ‘tip-of –the-tongue’. This process is referred to as blocking wherein one experiences a temporary problem to retrieve information. A more popular type of forgetting is ‘amnesia’ that happens when the hippocampus gland and some parts of the brain are damaged or experienced trauma.  There are two types of amnesia, the first being anterograde, characterize by the failure to remember certain events that transpire after the trauma; the other type is retrograde amnesia or failing to remember what happened before injury or trauma. Finally there is what Freud, as quoted by Greene (1975), refers to as Repression which is a rejection of certain information that the person rendered as too painful or unacceptable to even think about.


Greene, Judith, (1975). Memory, Thinking and Language. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

James, William. (1950). The Principles of Psychology. Courier Dover Publications.

Tulving, Endel. (1985). Elements of Episodic Memory. Oxford University Press.

Cite this page

From Stimuli to Long Term Memory. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront