The brain has the power to recall and process past information and experiences. The organ is the focal point of memory and is the unit where information is encoded, stored, and retrieved for use. Additionally, memory exists in different forms, such as sensory, short, and long-term. The different types of memory operate differently but work as a cohesive unit to form a long-lasting memory. The multi-store model has consistently been used to understand and examine the different types of memory. The different types of memory collaborate to facilitate the encoding, consolidating, storing, and recalling of experiences.
Sensory memory is described as the shortest form of memory. Bisaz et al. (2014) posits that sensory memory acts as a buffer to stimuli from the five senses. images can accurately be retained briefly here. For example, in education and learning environment, the sensory memory is perceived through the eyes and ears. Additionally, it is the memory that gives people an idea of what somebody is cooking and the notion of smell of a flower. Information is recorded in the brain through the senses and then it is either stored it in the working memory or not (Bisaz et al., 2014). Thus, the sensory memory explains why some people ignore certain stimuli emanating from the environment.
The sensory memory is divided into iconic, echoic, and haptic memories. Cowan (2009) refers to iconic memory as the immediate visual perception. Iconic memory also allows a person to accurately remember an image after seeing it a few moments before. For example, computer interfaces have certain pop-up windows that flash within seconds. Computer users remember the contents through iconic memory. On the other hand, as revealed by Cowan (2009), echoic memory relates to audio memories, which are stored longer than visual images. For example, echoic memory allows a keyboard user to remember certain melody keynotes popped by another person. However, it does not mean that the memory of the audio notes is stored long-term. As such, the mentioned user may not be able to remember the keynotes after some minutes. Finally, Cowan (2009) posits that haptic memory involves a person’s sense of touch. For instance, if a person quickly runs his or her finger on top of a rough surface, he is able to remember the sensation of it. However, the feeling may not be encoded to be recalled later.
Short-term or working memory is another category of memory that keeps experiences and perception for short periods before they are either dismissed on transferred to long-term memory. Essentially, it keeps experiences for shorter period compared to the long-term memory. In other words, working memory allow people to hold information until the need to recall it diminishes. Besides, short-memory remembers information so that the brain can safely store them in the long-term memory. It can be compared to a computer memory that has the working memory (RAM) and the long-term memory (ROM). In this scenario, the RAM stores the instructions of computer programs that are currently running before they are sent to the main memory for storage. The computer no longer remembers the instructions it was executing when it is turned off. Hence, the computer either disregards such data or sends it to the main memory to be used later. Perhaps, the short-term memory explains the tendency of people to repeatedly recite a new phone number before dialing. The intention is to store the information in working memory to use it at the time and not later.
Long-term memory is viewed as a permanent storage of information, experiences, and perceptions. It is believed that long-term memory ensures that people remember certain information for decades (Norman, 2014). For example, a lady’s first kiss is likely to stay longer. However, sometimes some information fades away. Unlike in short-term memory, long-term memory retains information due to repetition of actions.
Explicit and Implicit Memory
The two types of long-term memory are explicit and implicit memory. As revealed by De Vriendt et al. (2012), explicit memory allows intentional recalling of information. Lineweaver et al. (2009) gives an example of a student intentionally trying to remember a formula to solve a mathematical problem. Explicit memory is also described as declarative memory because it allows a person to recall and process information for use. Furthermore, this type of memory is further divided into episodic and somatic memory. The former is used to recall activities done recently while the latter is used to recall general knowledge and concepts. As such, explicit memory allows a person to remember an event, items on a shopping list, and birthdays. Conversely, implicit memory stores information from an event that cannot accurately be recalled. Thus, it is a type of memory with information that people do not purposefully remember where it came from or how it happened. While explicit memory is conscious, implicit memory is not. Moreover, implicit memory control procedures and guidelines that must be followed to accomplish a certain task. For example, activities that involve implicit memory include remembering how to drive a car, dressing, and boiling water.
Anterograde and Retrograde Amnesia
The major difference between the two conditions is that retrograde is the inability to recall events that occurred in past before an injury caused the memory loss, while anterograde is the inability to create new memories. As affirmed by Brem et al. (2013), a person who has anterograde amnesia cannot grasp, store, and retain new concepts but can have long-term memories. It is believed that anterograde amnesia is caused by damage to the hippocampus region of the brain as a result of accident, surgery, and excessive consumption of alcohol. Psychologists opine that the damage to the brain makes it difficult to transfer experiences from the short to long-term memory (Brem et al., 2013). Conversely, people with retrograde amnesia cannot remember specific events or instances. In my view, anterograde amnesia inhibits the ability to create new memories, leading to partial loss of the ability to remember the past yet the information is still intact in the long-term memory. Therefore, this can affect a person’s daily life in different ways like repeating comments and repeatedly asking annoying questions. In addition, a person may fail to recognize people he or she just met.
Memory plays fundamental role in the life of humans. A person is able to recall information or experiences based on the quality and quantity information that is passed through the process from sensory to long-term memory. The human brain automatically determines information to be stored on the long-term memory and that to be disregarded. Nonetheless, the information stored in the long-term memory remains intact even a person develops anterograde amnesia. Future research should examine the impacts of anterograde amnesia in learning among teenagers.
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