Memory: Its Stages And Types


Memory is a system in our brain that helps us to collect information from our environment, process that information, store it into brain and recall that information at the time of need. It is our ability to preserve as well as recall information that we gathered from our surroundings. We understand human memory by linking it with the memory system of a computer or filling a cabinet with different things for storage. However process of memories is not as perfect as we think. It also has different flaws and overcomes. Not all the individuals good at memorizing things and sometimes they forget things or events happened to them. This is because sometime information we gather from environment couldn’t properly encode into our brain. Secondly, our memories kept changing throughout our life and that’s why it becomes distorted.

Our memory shouldn’t be consider as a single entity because it has different categories. Such as learning memories in which we learn things and then store them for later use. Learn a new word, learn a new skill such as driving and learn new facts about things are included in learning memories. Autobiographic memory is a category through which we are able to recall and even relive events from our past life. It is rather a complex category of our memories. This is called as autobiographic because it creates our biography and personal history of our past life. Lastly, a category is called navigation memory that is closely related to autobiographic. It helps us to remember and find our way around the world.

Stages of Memory Formation Process

In psychology there are three stages that define the process of memories formation. These three stages help us to collect information from our environment and store it for later use. These stages described as followed:

stages of memory process

Encoding: the initial stage in memory process is encoding in which we collect information from environment, understand it and then send it to the 2nd stage of process called storage. It is like when we enter a command in computer and computer understands it before working on it. Example of encoding is when a person saw a new thing or person and encodes their name by associating with their looks or face.

Storage: after coding information a person have to maintain it for some duration. Saving encoded information into our brain is called storage. It is like saving files into computer. As per previous example when you encode information related to new thing or person you store them into your brain.

Retrieval: this is final stage in process of memories. This describes as using stored information about something or any individual at the time of need. It is like using stored data from your computer. As per previous example retrieval is when you saw a person or thing a week later you easily name that thing or person by recognizing that thing or person. This is called retrieval in memory process.

Not every person is good at retrieving stored information. In order to remember anything properly it is important that all these three stages be intact. If any stage lack in its process a person couldn’t properly remember things.

Types of Memory

There were so many different models present those explains the structure or functioning or memory. However the well-known and most convincing model is introduced by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in 1968. There are different names present of this model such as Atkinson-Shiffrin Model, Stage Model and Multi-Store Model. This model also helps us to understand the stages of it and which type of memory worked at which stage.

Sensory Memories

In sensory memories the information only store for limited time duration and it is also consider as the initial stage of a memory procedure. In this stage our brain collects a great amount of information from environment. However, we remember only few things because the information store only for limited time that is in seconds. The main purpose of sensory memories are to retain the information for enough time so our brain can recognize them. In sensory memories we collect a lot or information but focus just certain points of that information. When that information stays in our mind for more time it transfer to next stage that is short-term memory. Sensory memories also categories further into three categories.

Iconic Memories: these are our visual sensory memories. These are about things that we see and have brief images from our environment. They stay in our brain for not more than one quarter to one-half of a second.

Echoic Memories: they include our auditory sensory memories. They includes sounds that we hear from our surroundings but only for very small time. Echoic memories are so brief that we just feel like an echo. They stay in our brain for only three to four seconds.

Tactile Memories: the other name of tactile memories is Haptic Memories and they involve memories related to touch. Tactile memories remain only for two seconds in our brain.

Short-Term Memory

It is also called as active memory or primary memory. It is our brain’s ability to save only small amount of information and it also available for small period of time. Short-term memory consist of information that we aware or thinking about it currently. According to Sigmund Freud, short-term memory is refer to our conscious mind. When we pay attention on the information we gathered in sensory memory for long time it convert into short-term memory. It is very brief in time and last for just few seconds. The approximate time of short-term memory is 20 to 30 seconds.

When we rehearsal and maintain information into short term memory for long time then it goes into next level called long-term memory and stays for longer period of time. The second point of short-term memory is that it only gathered limited amount of information from environment. According to psychologist we can store at least seven items at one time in short-term memory.

Long-Term Memor

It consists of all the memories we have in our brain of our long gone past. It is a continuous process of storing information into brain for long period of time. This type is more stable as compare to other types and stays in our mind for years. According to Sigmund Freud, our long term memory refers to our sub-conscious or unconscious mind. The amount of information stored in our long-term memory is beyond our imagination but this information comes into working memory right away at the time of need. Still we can remember some of that information easily and fairly but some things come to access after some difficulty. In other words, if you remember any event and all the details in it like it happened just few moments before but in actual it occurs years ago is our long-term memory.

Types of Long-Term Memory

It further divided into two types:

Explicit Memories: these also called declarative memories. These are all the memories present in our conscious mind. This includes episodic memories those are related to any event and sematic memories those are related to our all the knowledge about the world.

Implicit memories: these include our unconscious memories. Our memories relate to any body movement or any skill such as driving and use of a computer are include in this type of long-term memory.

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