Full version Memory Construction

Memory Construction

This print version free essay Memory Construction.

Category: Psychology

Autor: reviewessays 18 December 2010

Words: 1072 | Pages: 5


Memory is of which enables us to remember things. The definition of memory is the persistence of learning over time through the storage and retrieval of information. With out memory we wouldn’t be able to remember many things. For example; language, people, words and so on. The present might be fresh, but the past would be forgotten. People which we know might be considered as a stranger. This paper is a brief look on how memory works encoding. Also, on the differences between short term memory and long term memory.


Everyone’s memory works like a computer. You retrieve information by encoding and storing. According to Myers (2005):

Like all analogies, the computer model has its limits, however. Our memories are less literal and more fragile than a computer’s. Moreover, most computers process information speedily but sequentially, even while alternation between tasks. The brain is slower but does many things at once--in parallel.

Many times people encode information without even trying. Trying to remember information might help retain memories, but they almost happen automatically. This can be called automatic processing. One example of encoding is Name Blocking. Name Blocking can occur in diverse situations (Schacter.2001). Engaged in casual conversation, you block on a word in the middle of a sentence. Stage actors fear those relatively rare, but embarrassing moments in a scene when they block on their lines. And, students dread the awful realization that they blocked on an exam answer they studied, and might even recall spontaneously after fishing the test. But blocking occurs most often with people’s names. Daniel L Schacter says:

In surveys that probe different types of memory failures in everyday life, blocking on the names of familiar people invariably emerges at or near the top of the list. Name blocking is especially troublesome for older adults: the single biggest complaint of cognitive difficulties by adults past age fifty-by far-involves problems retrieving the names of familiar people.

Why do we block on the names of people? The idea that proper names tell us little about the characteristics of their bears help to explain why new names of people are difficult to learn and remember.

Emotion has a great relationship to memory. The emotional boost begins at the moment that memory is born. Emotional information attracts attention quickly and automatically. The significant of emotion information undergoes evaluation in relation to our current goals and concerns. The benefits of emotional arousal for subsequent memory extend to both positive and negative events, we remember more high and low moments from our lives than mundane ones. Positive experiences tend to be remembered involuntarily and intrusively (Schacter.2001).

Short-term memory

Short-term memory or working memory lasts from a few seconds to a minute; the exact amount of time may vary somewhat. When you are trying to recall a telephone number that was heard a few seconds earlier, the name of a person who has just been introduced, or the substance of the remarks just made by a teacher in class, you are calling on short-term memory, or working memory. Short-term memory, sometimes referred to as "primary" or "active" memory is that part of memory which stores a limited amount of information for a limited amount of time (15-30 seconds). The most important characteristic of a short-term store is, clearly, that it is short-term — that is, it retains information for a limited amount of time only. Most definitions of short-term memory limit the duration of storage to less than a minute, no more than about 30 seconds, and in some models as little as 2. In order to overcome this, and retain information for longer, information must be periodically repeated, or rehearsed either by articulating it out loud, or by mentally simulating such articulation. In this way, the information will re-enter the short-term store and be retained for a further period. The process of consolidation (Transfer of short-term memory to long term memory) is enhanced by the relationship, if any, of an item of short-term memory to an item in long-term memory (for example, if a sensory short-term event is linked to a trauma already in long-term memory).

Long-term memory

Long-term memory lasts from a minute or so to weeks or even years. From long-term memory you can recall general information about the world that you learned on previous occasions, memory for specific past experiences, specific rules previously learned, and the like. The knowledge we store in long-term memory affects our perceptions of the world, and influences what information in the environment we attend to. Long term memory provides the framework to which we attach new knowledge. It contrasts with short-term and perceptual memory in that information can be stored for extended periods of time and the limits of its capacity are not known.

Schemas, are mental models of the world. Information in long term memory is stored in interrelated networks of these schemas. These, in turn, form intricate knowledge structures. Related schemas are linked together, and information that activates one schema also activates others that are closely linked. This is how we recall relevant knowledge when similar information is presented. These schemas guide us by diverting our attention to relevant information and allow us to disregard what is not important. Since long term storage is organized into schemas, instructional designers should activate existing schemas before presenting new information. This can be done in a variety of ways, including graphic organizers, curiosity-arousing questions, movies, etc. Long term memory also has a strong influence on perception through top-down processing - our prior knowledge affects how we perceive sensory information. Our expectations regarding a particular sensory experience influence how we interpret it. This is how we develop bias.


Memory is the most important part of our body. A brain is what controls our thoughts. And, our brain is made up with two memory parts, short term and long term memory.


Schacter, D. L. (2001). The Seven Sins of Memory (Vol. 1). New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Davelaar, E. J., Goshen-Gottstein, Y., A., A., Haarmann, H. J., & Usher, M. (2005): The demise of short-term memory revisited: empirical and computational investigation of recency effects. Psychological Review, 112, 3-42.

Talland, G. A. (1968). Disorders of Memory and Learning. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books.

Myers, D. G. (2005). Exploring Psychology (6th ed.). New York: Catherine Woods.

Atkinson, R. C. & Shiffrin, R.M. (1968): Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes - In K.W. Spence & J.T. Spence (Eds.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Vol 2. London: Academic Press.