An Overview Of Memory Term Paper



Memory is generally viewed as some type of a physical thing stored in the brain (Zlotnik & Vansintjan, 2019). Given this view, popular culture has created a notion that memory is a subjective, personal experience that can be recalled at any time and at will. This belief has created concerns and questions on the maximum amount of memories one can have. However, the field of psychology provides different conceptualizations of memory. These conceptualizations are largely fueled by advances in the science of memory and the field of psychology. Additionally, recent technological advancements continue to shape peoples views and definitions of memory. A proper understanding of memory requires consideration of these different conceptualizations as well as the work of different psychologists like Elizabeth Loftus, one of the most influential psychologists. This paper examines the concept of memory based on the work of Loftus and recent advances in the field of psychology.

Definition of Memory

As previously mentioned, memory is popularly viewed as a subjective, personal experience that can be retrieved at will. Current views of memory in popular culture generate questions on the amount of memories people can have and retrieve. The view of memory as a subjective, personal experience does not capture the concept holistically as people forget their experiences at times. Over the past few decades, the definition of memory has evolved due to advances in information technology and the field of psychology. Advances in the science of memory have contributed to the emergence of the view that memory is not a fixed thing/experience stored in the brain (Zlotnik & Vansintjan, 2019). This is primarily because memory is considered a chemical process between neurons. Since these chemical processes are not static, memory is essentially not fixed.

Zlotnik & Vansintjan (2019) define memory as the faculty of coding, storing, and retrieving information. This process is shaped by the chemical change between neurons, which contributes to different attributes of this concept. Given the role chemical processes between neurons play in this process, memory is essentially the capacity with which people store and retrieve information. People have different capacities at different times to code, store, and retrieve information. According to Huffman, Dowdell & Sanderson (2018), memory is essentially the process by which information or experience is coded, stored, and retrieved. From a psychological perspective, memory is regarded as the persistence of learning over time. Psychologists tend to view memory as learning that persists over time since it entails all processes involved in learning. Similar to learning, the three processes underlying memory are encoding, storing, and retrieving information. In addition, psychologists view memory as a constructive process of organizing and sharing information. The constructive process involving memory sometimes results in serious errors and biases.

Psychologists view of memory incorporates recent advances in technology and science. In this regard, memory is not viewed as a static and subjective personal experience stored in the brain, but a process affected by the chemical change between neurons. Current definitions of memory are based on the idea that it is distributed across a wide network of interconnected neurons in the brain. These neurons located throughout the brain are activated to process information as they work simultaneously. Therefore, the incorporation of the various neurons and chemical processes involved in the learning process provides a framework for an accurate conceptualization and definition of memory. The view of memory as a static and subjective personal experience is erroneous as it fails to consider the chemical processes between neurons that underlie the encoding, storage, and retrieval of information.

Three-Stage Memory

Based on the work of Loftus, memory basically requires three distinct boxes or stages (Huffman, Dowdell & Sanderson,...…memories become resistant to interference. Information obtained from STM is organized and integrated with other information in LTM. LTM stores information and sends it back to STM when it is needed for conscious use. Unlike sensory memory and STM, LTM is not limited in duration and capacity.

There are different types of LTM including explicit/declarative memory and implicit/non-declarative memory. While exclusive/declarative memory entails intentional learning or conscious knowledge, implicit/nondeclarative memory involves unintentional learning or unconscious knowledge. Explicit/declarative memory is classified into two i.e. sensory memory and episodic memory. Sensory memory is the memory for rules, facts, general knowledge, specific information, and events whereas episodic memory is for major life events or episodes. Since episodic memory serves as a mental diary, some memories can last for a lifetime while others are short-lived. On the other hand, implicit/non-declarative memory is classified into procedural memory, classically conditioned memory, and priming. Procedural memory refers to motor skills and habits whereas classically conditioned memory is memory for conditioned responses to conditioned stimuli. Priming refers to memory in which exposure to previously stored information prompts responses to related stimuli.

In conclusion, memory is a term used to refer to the process of encoding, storage, and retrieval of memory. Conceptualizations of this term have continued to evolve due to advances in the science of memory and the field of psychology in general. Despite the evolution of the definition of memory, popular culture still portrays the idea of memory as a static, subjective personal experience that is retrieved when needed. This definition is not an accurate picture of what memory entails because it does not consider the chemical processes between neurons. Memory is essentially complex and includes a three-stage process i.e. sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. These three stages differ in terms of duration and capacity of processing and…

Sources Used in Documents:


Brem, A., Ran, K. & Pascual-Leone, A. (2013). Learning and memory. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 116, 693-737.

Huffman, K., Dowdell, K. & Sanderson, C.A. (2018). Psychology in action (12th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Zlotnik, G. & Vansintjan, A. (2019). Memory: An extended definition. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1-5.

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