Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Memory

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Memory

How do we store information using memories? Why can we recall memories from days, weeks, years or even decades ago but sometimes fail to recall the information reviewed seconds before?

Memory is defined differently depending on the psychologists in question. However, all these definitions tend to have two crucial elements in common: information and time. Memory refers to the structures and processes involved in storing and retrieving information.

What are the different types of memory?

Let's look at the three most basic types of memory.

Sensory memory

Sensory memory includes information from all your senses. When we pay attention to something in the environment, it is converted to short-term memory.

For example, the ability to listen to a song and recognise what it sounds like in just seconds is one of the examples of sensory memory.

a person listening to radio music, pixabay

Short term memory (STM)

STM refers to the storage of memory available for a short time and only for a small amount of information.

A typical example of short term memory is when you need to remember a set of numbers or codes, like phone numbers, postcodes, driver license plate numbers, etc.

Long term memory (LTM)

Long term memory refers to the storage of memory that is supposed to keep information for an extended amount of time. LTM is supposed to be stable and can last a long time, often for years.

Once you have learned how to ride a bike, you won't easily forget it even you haven't ridden your bike for years. This is one of the examples of LTM.

Memory, woman riding a bike, StudySmarterWoman riding a bike, pixabay

What are the different elements of memory?

This section below will introduce the three essential elements (coding, capacity and duration) of memory. Each aspect will be discussed in-depth in other articles.

Coding

Coding is a measure of how the information is received, transferred and stored in our memory. In other words, the way you process information.

The lyrics you listen to in a song may be stored if encoded into letters or meaning.

Capacity

Capacity refers to the measurement of how much information can be stored in memory. In other words, the amount of information you can hold in your mind.

One of the most famous and cited papers in psychology, "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" by Miller (1956), argues that humans can store around seven items in our short term memory on average.

Duration

A measure of how long the information is available for retrieval. In other words, it refers to the amount of time you can hold a piece of information in your mind.

Rehearsal can lengthen the duration of memory. That's why you remember the content in your textbook better if you revise often.

Memory, depiction of revision, StudySmartertextbook and glasses: a depiction of revision, pixabay.com

What are the major memory models in psychology?

There are two major models of memory you need to know. They are the multi-store model of memory and the working memory model. Both models will be further discussed and evaluated with research evidence in the following summaries.

The multi-store model of memory

Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin proposed the multi-store model of memory (MSM) in 1968. This is one of the earliest models of memory. The MSM describes the flow between three store components, namely sensory register (SR), short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM). Each of the store components has particular characteristics.

The working memory model

Baddeley and Hitch's (1974) Working Memory Model (WMM) sought to improve upon the Multi-Store Model (MSM). In contrast to the MSM, Baddeley and Hitch think that short-term memory (STM) must be more sophisticated than a single unitary store that exists to transfer information to long term memory (LTM).

What are the main explanations for memory loss?

This section below will introduce two explanations for forgetting in psychology: interference and retrieval failure. Both explanations will be further discussed and will be critically evaluated with research evidence in other articles.

Interference

The interference theory of forgetting explains the reason for forgetting in long-term memory (LTM). According to interference theory, forgetting happens when memories interfere with and disturb one another; i.e., forgetting occurs when two pieces of information conflict.

Retrieval failure

Retrieval failure of forgetting, also known as cue-dependent forgetting, explains the failure to recall information without memory cues. When information is first stored in memory, accompanying signals are also stored. If these cues are not there at the time of recall, you may be unable to recall information in your memory.

Memory - Key takeaways

  • Memory refers to the structures and processes involved in storing and retrieving information.
  • The three most basic types of memory are sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.
  • The three elements of memory are coding, capacity, and duration.
  • The two major models of memory are the multi-store model of memory and the working memory model.
  • The two explanations for forgetting are interference and retrieval failure.

Frequently Asked Questions about Memory

Memory refers to the structures and processes involved in storing and retrieving information.

The three most basic types of memory are sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory.

Final Memory Quiz

Question

What is memory?

Show answer

Answer

Memory refers to the structures and processes involved in storing and retrieving information.

Show question

Question

What are the three basic types of memory?


Show answer

Answer

The three most basic types of memory are sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory.

Show question

Question

What is sensory memory?


Show answer

Answer

Sensory memory includes information from all your senses. When attention is paid to something in the environment, it is converted to short-term memory.

Show question

Question

What is short term memory?


Show answer

Answer

STM refers to memory that keeps a small amount of information. Information stored in STM will usually only be able to stay in your mind for a very brief time.

Show question

Question

What is long term memory?


Show answer

Answer

Long term memory refers to the storage of memory that is supposed to keep information for an extended time. LTM is supposed to be stable and can last a long time, often for years.

Show question

Question

What are the 3 different elements of memory?


Show answer

Answer

The 3 elements of memory are coding, capacity, and duration.

Show question

Question

What are the two major models of memory?


Show answer

Answer

The two major models of memory are the multi-store model of memory and the working memory model.

Show question

Question

What are the two explanations for forgetting?


Show answer

Answer

The two explanations for forgetting are interference and retrieval failure.

Show question

Question

What is retrieval failure?


Show answer

Answer

Retrieval Failure explains the failure to recall information without memory cues. When information is first stored in memory, accompanying cues are also stored. If these cues are not there at the time of recall, you may be unable to recall information in your memory.

Show question

Question

What is interference?


Show answer

Answer

According to the interference theory, forgetting happens when memories interfere with and disturb one another; in other words, forgetting occurs when two pieces of information conflict.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Memory quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.