Let?s say a person was asked to define memory. They might define memory as storing information in the brain, which is typical. However, there is more to memory then just that. The stored information has to actually stay in your memory, and be able to be retrieved when needed. You probably experienced the tip of the tongue phenomenon. The tip of the tongue phenomenon is when you memorized something, but when its time to remember it, it will just not come to you! It seems like it?s out of reach. Memory can be really puzzling, and Psychologists came up with three questions about memory.
The first question is that when information is learned, then how does it get into your memory? Well, Encoding is the process of getting the information into the memory. It involves finding a way to memorize it. As you study the information, you might focus on the way it looks, means, or sounds. Let?s say a couple people spend the same amount hours studying for the same exam. However, only half of them actually do well. Perhaps the people who did badly on the test didn?t study in good conditions. If they were studying in their room, there are distractions there such as the phone, or television. The student probably did not pay much attention to their work. The people who did well might have studied in the library. Since the library has better study conditions, the student will pay more attention to their work. Therefore, attention is necessary to encode information. Attention is defined as focusing awareness on a narrowed range of stimuli or events. What it actually means is putting your concentration on something specific. However, Fergus Craik and Robert Lockhart brought about the idea that attention is not equal. There are several levels of attention. Some are stronger then others, and attention is divided into levels. When there is a weaker level of attention, the information is more likely to be forgotten. Yet, with a stronger level of attention there is more of a chance that the information will be remembered. There are different levels of remembering because certain ways of encoding produce more enduring memory codes then others. The levels of processing theory says that the deeper the level of processing used, the longer it will remain in the memory. There are three types of deep levels of encoding, called structural, phonemic, and semantic. Structural encoding helps someone to memorize something by its physical qualities, phonemic encoding helps someone to memorize something by its sound, and semantic encoding helps someone to memorize something by its meaning. The persistence of the three types on encoding where compared, and semantic encoding seemed to work the best. However, structural seemed to be the weakest. Even though these types of encoding work well, the do not work when it comes to forming memory codes. There are some other branches of encoding, and it improves memory by refining the whole encoding process. These other dimensions of encoding are elaboration, visual imaginary, and self-referent encoding. Elaboration strengthens semantic encoding by connecting other information. It involves thinking of examples that illustrates ideas. The more examples there are, the easier it will be to memorize. Visual imaginary is when images are created to remember a word. An example can be thinking of someone juggling in order to remember the work juggler. Creating images to help you remember something creates a second memory and, Paivio started a theory that two memory codes are better then having one. The theory that he created was called the dual-coding theory. It states that memory is improved by making both semantic and visual codes instead of just one. When two memory codes are made it makes the information easier to recall. Self-Referent encoding says that recalling information depends on how important it is to you. Sometimes when a person has to memorize something, they won?t remember it if it is not that important to them.
The next question psychologists ask about memory is that once the information is in the memory, how does it stay there? Information stays in your memory by storage. Psychologists put a lot of time into figuring the mystery of how storage works, because it?s not exactly reliable. The tip of the tongue phenomenon is an example of why storage isn?t reliable. Because even though you already memorized the information, it wasn?t a guarantee that it was remembered. There are three ways how memory is stored and they are called sensory store, short-term store, and a long-term store. Sensory memory keeps information in brain for only a fraction of a second. Instead of actually having an actual stimulus, you would usually only receive an afterimage. Short term memory keeps information in the brain for up to twenty seconds. An example can be when someone quickly tells you a phone number and you go to dial it. By the time your conversation is over, the phone number that was in your memory before will be forgotten. Sometimes short-term memory information can remain in your brain for more then 20 seconds. Perhaps rehearsing the information will keep in it your memory longer. The rehearsal process involves thinking and verbalizing information repetitively to keep in your head. If the rehearsal process is not used, the information will decay in time. However, short-term memory can not hold that much because it has limited space. George Miller pointed out the capacity of short-term memory. Approximately seven items can be remembered at once, and eventually the earlier information will be ?bumped out?. But putting them into chunks can increase the amount of information memorized at once. A chunk is a lot of information, but it is stored as thing to know. For example when memorizing these numbers 8, 4, 0,2, you can think of them as 84, and 02. Memorizing two numbers is easier then memorizing four. So they are put into chucks. Short-term memory is also known as working memory, which is divided into three components. The first component is called the rehearsal loop. The rehearsal loops is used when something is to memorized temporarily, such as memorizing a telephone number and the telephone number remains in your memory for enough time to remember it to dial, but its you forgot it after you hang up. The next component is called the visuospactical sketchpad. With this component, you can temporarily memorize information and also maneuver it. An example of a visuospatical sketchpad can be when you mentally re-arrange furniture in a room. You have to memorize what the furniture looks like in the room, and play around with it in your mind. The third component of the working memory is called the executive control system. It deals with thinking about the information, such as making a mental list. Long-term memory is a form of memory where the information is stored longer then short-term memory. In fact, it has a unlimited capacity store. It can hold information for a long time, even a lifetime. However, is it really possible for long-term memory actually be stored permanently? It has been questioned, because even though information was stored into long-term memory, it still can be forgotten.
The third question psychologists ask about memory is how do you retrieve information? When its time to get the stored information back, it is called retrieval. For example, you have this big exam coming up. So you spend time studying and when test time comes, you recall back to the information studied. Getting back the information is the retrieval process. It involves searching the memory. Some retrieval processes are more effectual then others.