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For other uses, see Memory (disambiguation).



Brain functions[show]



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In psychology, memory is an organism's ability to store, retain, and recall information and experiences.
Traditional studies of memory began in the fields ofphilosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing
memory. The late nineteenth and early twentieth century put memory within the paradigms ofcognitive
psychology. In recent decades, it has become one of the principal pillars of a branch of science
called cognitive neuroscience, an interdisciplinary link between cognitive psychology and neuroscience.


• 1 Processes

o 1.1 Long-term

• 2 Models

o 2.1 Atkinson-Shiffrin model

o 2.2 Working memory

o 2.3 Levels of processing

• 3 Classification by information type

• 4 Classification by temporal direction

• 5 Physiology

• 6 Genetics
• 7 Disorders

• 8 Methods

• 9 Memory and aging

• 10 Improving memory

• 11 Memory tasks

• 12 See also

• 13 Footnotes

• 14 References

• 15 External links

[ edit]Processes
From an information processing perspective there are three main stages in the formation and retrieval of

 [[Encoed to be able to remember large amounts of information, quickly,

and be able to recall that information in seconds.[citation needed]


Olin Levi Warner, Memory(1896). Library of CongressThomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

Main article: Long-term memory

The storage in sensory memory and short-term memory generally have a strictly limited capacity and
duration, which means that information is available only for a certain period of time, but is not retained
indefinitely. By contrast, long-term memory can store much larger quantities of information for potentially
unlimited duration (sometimes a whole life span). Its capacity is immeasurably large. For example, given a
random seven-digit number we may remember it for only a few seconds before forgetting, suggesting it
was stored in our short-term memory. On the other hand, we can remember telephone numbers for many
years through repetition; this information is said to be stored in long-term memory.

While short-term memory encodes information acoustically, long-term memory encodes it semantically[citation
: Baddeley (1966)[1] discovered that after 20 minutes, test subjects had the most difficulty recalling a
collection of words that had similar meanings (e.g. big, large, great, huge).

Short-term memory is supported by transient patterns of neuronal communication, dependent on regions of

the frontal lobe (especially dorsolateralprefrontal cortex) and the parietal lobe. Long-term memories, on the
other hand, are maintained by more stable and permanent changes in neural connections widely spread
throughout the brain. The hippocampus is essential (for learning new information) to the consolidation of
information from short-term to long-term memory, although it does not seem to store information itself.
Without the hippocampus, new memories are unable to be stored into long-term memory, and there will be
a very short attention span. Furthermore, it may be involved in changing neural connections for a period of
three months or more after the initial learning. One of the primary functions of sleep is thought to be
improving consolidation of information, as several studies have demonstrated that memory depends on
getting sufficient sleep between training and test. Additionally, data obtained from neuroimaging studies
have shown activation patterns in the sleeping brain which mirror those recorded during the learning of
tasks from the previous day, suggesting that new memories may be solidified through such rehearsal.

[ edit]Models
Models of memory provide abstract representations of how memory is believed to work. Below are several
models proposed over the years by various psychologists. Note that there is some controversy as to
whether there are several memory structures, for example, Tarnow (2005) finds that it is likely that there is
only one memory structure between 6 and 600 seconds.

[edit]Atkinson-Shiffrin model

See also: Memory consolidation

The multi-store model (also known as Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model) was first recognised in 1968
by Atkinson and Shiffrin.

The multi-store model has been criticised for being too simplistic. For instance, long-term memory is
believed to be actually made up of multiple subcomponents, such as episodic and procedural memory. It
also proposes that rehearsal is the only mechanism by which information eventually reaches long-term
storage, but evidence shows us capable of remembering things without rehearsal.

The model also shows all the memory stores as being a single unit whereas research into this shows
differently. For example, short-term memory can be broken up into different units such as visual information
and acoustic information. Patient KF proves this. Patient KF was brain damaged and had problems with his
short term memory. He had problems with things such as spoken numbers, letters and words and with
significant sounds (such as doorbells and cats meowing). Other parts of short term memory were
unaffected, such as visual (pictures).[2]

It also shows the sensory store as a single unit whilst we know that the sensory store is split up into several
different parts such as taste, vision, and hearing.

[edit]Working memory

The working memory model.

Main article: working memory

In 1974 Baddeley and Hitch proposed a working memory model which replaced the concept of general
short term memory with specific, active components. In this model, working memory consists of three basic
stores: the central executive, the phonological loop and the visuo-spatial sketchpad. In 2000 this model
was expanded with the multimodal episodic buffer.[3]

The central executive essentially acts as attention. It channels information to the three component
processes: the phonological loop, the visuo-spatial sketchpad, and the episodic buffer.

The phonological loop stores auditory information by silently rehearsing sounds or words in a continuous
loop: the articulatory process (for example the repetition of a telephone number over and over again).
Then, a short list of data is easier to remember.

The visuospatial sketchpad stores visual and spatial information. It is engaged when performing spatial
tasks (such as judging distances) or visual ones (such as counting the windows on a house or imagining
The episodic buffer is dedicated to linking information across domains to form integrated units of visual,
spatial, and verbal information and chronological ordering (e.g., the memory of a story or a movie scene).
The episodic buffer is also assumed to have links to long-term memory and semantical meaning.

The working memory model explains many practical observations, such as why it is easier to do two
different tasks (one verbal and one visual) than two similar tasks (e.g., two visual), and the aforementioned
word-length effect. However, the concept of a central executive as noted here has been criticised as
inadequate and vague.[citation needed]

[edit]Levels of processing
Main article: Levels-of-processing effect

Craik and Lockhart (1972) proposed that it is the method and depth of processing that affects how an
experience is stored in memory, rather than rehearsal.

 Organization - Mandler (1967) gave participants a pack of word cards

and asked them to sort them into any number of piles using any system of
categorisation they liked. When they were later asked to recall as many of
the words as they could, those who used more categories remembered
more words. This study suggested that the act of organising information
makes it more memorable.

 Distinctiveness - Eysenck and Eysenck (1980) asked participants to

say words in a distinctive way, e.g. spell the words out loud. Such
participants recalled the words better than those who simply read them off
a list.

 Effort - Tyler et al. (1979) had participants solve a series of anagrams,

some easy (FAHTER) and some difficult (HREFAT). The participants
recalled the difficult anagrams better, presumably because they put more
effort into them.

 Elaboration - Palmere et al. (1983) gave participants descriptive

paragraphs of a fictitious African nation. There were some short
paragraphs and some with extra sentences elaborating the main idea.
Recall was higher for the ideas in the elaborated paragraphs.

[ edit]Classification by information type

Anderson (1976)[4] divides long-term memory into declarative (explicit) and procedural (implicit) memories.

Declarative memory requires conscious recall, in that some conscious process must call back the
information. It is sometimes called explicit memory, since it consists of information that is explicitly stored
and retrieved.
Declarative memory can be further sub-divided into semantic memory, which concerns facts taken
independent of context; and episodic memory, which concerns information specific to a particular context,
such as a time and place. Semantic memory allows the encoding of abstract knowledge about the world,
such as "Paris is the capital of France". Episodic memory, on the other hand, is used for more personal
memories, such as the sensations, emotions, and personal associations of a particular place or
time. Autobiographical memory - memory for particular events within one's own life - is generally viewed as
either equivalent to, or a subset of, episodic memory. Visual memory is part of memory preserving some
characteristics of our senses pertaining to visual experience. One is able to place in memory information
that resembles objects, places, animals or people in sort of a mental image. Visual memory can result
in priming and it is assumed some kind of perceptual representational system underlies this
phenomenon. [2]

In contrast, procedural memory (or implicit memory) is not based on the conscious recall of information, but
on implicit learning. Procedural memory is primarily employed in learningmotor skills and should be
considered a subset of implicit memory. It is revealed when one does better in a given task due only to
repetition - no new explicit memories have been formed, but one is unconsciously accessing aspects of
those previous experiences. Procedural memory involved in motor learning depends on
the cerebellum and basal ganglia.

Topographic memory is the ability to orient oneself in space, to recognize and follow an itinerary, or to
recognize familiar places.[5] Getting lost when traveling alone is an example of the failure of topographic
memory. This is often reported among elderly patients who are evaluated for dementia. The disorder could
be caused by multiple impairments, including difficulties with perception, orientation, and memory.[6]

[ edit]Classification by temporal direction

A further major way to distinguish different memory functions is whether the content to be remembered is in
the past, retrospective memory, or whether the content is to be remembered in the future, prospective
memory. Thus, retrospective memory as a category includes semantic, episodic and autobiographical
memory. In contrast, prospective memory is memory for future intentions, or remembering to
remember (Winograd, 1988). Prospective memory can be further broken down into event- and time-based
prospective remembering. Time-based prospective memories are triggered by a time-cue, such as going to
the doctor (action) at 4pm (cue). Event-based prospective memories are intentions triggered by cues, such
as remembering to post a letter (action) after seeing a mailbox (cue). Cues do not need to be related to the
action (as the mailbox example is), and lists, sticky-notes, knotted handkerchiefs, or string around the
finger are all examples of cues that are produced by people as a strategy to enhance prospective memory.

[ edit]Physiology
Brain areas involved in the neuroanatomy of memory such as the hippocampus, the amygdala,
the striatum, or the mammillary bodies are thought to be involved in specific types of memory. For example,
the hippocampus is believed to be involved in spatial learning and declarative learning, while the amygdala
is thought to be involved in emotional memory. Damage to certain areas in patients and animal models and
subsequent memory deficits is a primary source of information. However, rather than implicating a specific
area, it could be that damage to adjacent areas, or to a pathway traveling through the area is actually
responsible for the observed deficit. Further, it is not sufficient to describe memory, and its
counterpart,learning, as solely dependent on specific brain regions. Learning and memory are attributed to
changes in neuronal synapses, thought to be mediated by long-term potentiation and long-term depression.

Hebb distinguished between short-term and long-term memory. He postulated that any memory that stayed
in short-term storage for a long enough time would be consolidated into a long-term memory. Later
research showed this to be false. Research has shown that direct injections of cortisol or epinephrine help
the storage of recent experiences. This is also true for stimulation of the amygdala. This proves that
excitement enhances memory by the stimulation of hormones that affect the amygdala. Excessive or
prolonged stress (with prolonged cortisol) may hurt memory storage. Patients with amygdalar damage are
no more likely to remember emotionally charged words than nonemotionally charged ones. The
hippocampus is important for explicit memory. The hippocampus is also important for memory
consolidation. The hippocampus receives input from different parts of the cortex and sends its output out to
different parts of the brain also. The input comes from secondary and tertiary sensory areas that have
processed the information a lot already. Hippocampal damage may also causememory loss and problems
with memory storage.[7]

[ edit]Genetics
Study of the genetics of human memory is in its infancy. A notable initial success was the association
of APOE with memory dysfunction in Alzheimer's Disease. The search for genes associated with normally-
varying memory continues. One of the first candidates for normal variation in memory is the gene KIBRA,
which appears to be associated with the rate at which material is forgotten over a delay period.

[ edit]Disorders
Much of the current knowledge of memory has come from studying memory disorders. Loss of memory is
known as amnesia. There are many sorts of amnesia, and by studying their different forms, it has become
possible to observe apparent defects in individual sub-systems of the brain's memory systems, and thus
hypothesize their function in the normally working brain. Other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's
disease can also affect memory and cognition. Hyperthymesia, or hyperthymesic syndrome, is a disorder
which affects an individual's autobiographical memory, essentially meaning that they cannot forget small
details that otherwise would not be stored.[8] Korsakoff's syndrome, also known as Korsakoff's psychosis,
amnesic-confabulatory syndrome, is an organic brain disease that adversely affects memory.

While not a disorder, a common temporary failure of word retrieval from memory is the tip-of-the-
tongue phenomenon. Sufferers of Nominal Aphasia (also called Anomia), however, do experience the tip-
of-the-tongue phenomenon on an ongoing basis due to damage to the frontal and parietal lobes of the
[ edit]Methods
Methods to optimize memorization

Memorization is a method of learning that allows an individual to recall information verbatim. Rote
learning is the method most often used. Methods of memorizing things have been the subject of much
discussion over the years with some writers, such as Cosmos Rossellius using visual alphabets.
The spacing effect shows that an individual is more likely to remember a list of items when rehearsal is
spaced over an extended period of time. In contrast to this is cramming which is intensive memorisation in
a short period of time. Also relevant is theZeigarnik effect which states that people remember uncompleted
or interrupted tasks better than completed ones.

Interference from previous knowledge

At the Center for Cognitive Science at Ohio State University, researchers have found that memory
accuracy of adults is hurt by the fact that they know more than children and tend to apply this knowledge
when learning new information. The findings appeared in the August 2004 edition of the journal
Psychological Science.

Interference can hamper memorisation and retrieval. There is retroactive interference when learning new
information causes forgetting of old information, and proactive interference where learning one piece of
information makes it harder to learn similar new information.[9]

Influence of odors and emotions

In March 2007 German researchers found they could use odors to re-activate new memories in the brains
of people while they slept and the volunteers remembered better later.[10]Emotion can have a powerful
impact on memory. Numerous studies have shown that the most vivid autobiographical memories tend to
be of emotional events, which are likely to be recalled more often and with more clarity and detail than
neutral events.[11]

[ edit]Memory and aging

Main article: Memory and aging

One of the key concerns of older adults is the experience of memory loss, especially as it is one of the
hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. However, memory loss is qualitatively different in
normal aging from the kind of memory loss associated with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's (Budson & Price,

[ edit]Improving memory
A UCLA research study published in the June 2006 issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
found that people can improve cognitive function and brain efficiency through simple lifestyle changes such
as incorporating memory exercises, healthy eating, physical fitness and stress reduction into their daily

There are a loosely associated group of mnemonic principles and techniques that can be used to vastly
improve memory known as the Art of memory.

The International Longevity Center released in 2001 a report[13] which includes in pages 14–16
recommendations for keeping the mind in good functionality until advanced age. Some of the
recommendations are to stay intellectually active through learning, training or reading, to keep physically
active so to promote blood circulation to the brain, to socialize, to reduce stress, to keep sleep time regular,
to avoid depression or emotional instability and to observe good nutrition.

[ edit]Memory tasks

 Paired associate learning - when one learns to associate one specific

word with another. For example when given a word such as "safe" one
must learn to say another specific word, such as "green". This is stimulus
and response.[14]

 Free recall - during this task a subject would be asked to study a list of
words and then sometime later they will be asked to recall or write down
as many words that they can remember.[15]

 Recognition - subjects are asked to remember a list of words or

pictures, after which point they are asked to identify the previously
presented words or pictures from among a list of alternatives that were not
presented in the original list.[16]
Human Memory Encoding, Storage,
Retention, and Retrieval
Memory is retention of information over a period of time. Ebbinghaus studied
memories by teaching himself lists of nonsense words and then studying his
retention of these lists over periods of hours to days. This was one of the earliest
studies of memory in psychology.


1. Short Term Memory

2. Working Memory
3. Long Term Memory
4. Spreading Activation Model
5. Practice and Strength
6. Depth of Processing
7. Elaborative Processing and Text
8. Forgetting: Gone or Inaccessible?
9. Forgetting: Decay or Interference?
10.Retrieval and Inference
11.Other Facts about Memory

Short Term Memory

While Ebbinghaus studied retention over long intervals, later experiments studied
memory loss over periods of seconds to minutes. Short term memory was
postulated to explain temporary retention of information as distinct from long term
retention of information . Short term memory acts to also store current sensory
information and to rehearse new information from sensory buffers. It has limited
capacity (Miller's 7 plus or minus 2). The probability of encoding in Long term
memory has been directly related to time in short term memory.

It is now believed that the loss of information stored in short term memory has the
same characteristics as loss of information stored in long term memory. It happens
quicker because it involves information that is not learned as well. What we call
the learning process is transferring information from short term to long term
memory and is a physiological process. The shape of the memory loss curves are
the same. Hence we don't need to postulate a special type of memory. Instead, we
need a theory of:
• Why we can rehearse only a limited amount of information at a time.
• How different memories get different strengths (and so are forgotten at
different rates).

Working Memory
Here we address why we can rehearse only limited information at a time.

Articulatory Loop Rehearsal limitations are due to limits in how long it takes
verbal material to decay, not how many items we can store. Hence, the faster we
can rehearse, the more we can store (Baddeley, 1986). Experimental support: word
length effect. How long it takes to read words predicts how many words will be
remembered. Articulatory loop is called the phonological loop due to evidence that
it involves speech. We can rehearse about 1.5 seconds of verbal material before it
decays. Time in the loop is not related to probability of coding in long term
memory. Baddeley's model proposes that we have a visual/spatial sketchpad as
well as the phonological loop. These hold information for use by a central
executive. There is evidence that a particular area of the frontal cortex is involved
in working memory.

Long Term Memory

A simple observation: we often need to recall information that we learned long
ago.How quickly and reliably we recall it depends on:

• Activation: How long since we last used the information.

• Strength: How well we have practiced it.

Experimental Evidence: (Anderson 1976) - Subjects learn some sentences. Some

sentences are studied twice as long as others. Subjects must discriminate sentences
they learned from distracters. They are tested for each sentence more than once,
with varying intervening sentences. Results: Both amount of study and how
recently the information was accessed affect speed of response. However amount
of study matters only if the information was not recently accessed (an interaction

Delay (number of intervening items) Degree of Study

Less Study More Study
Short (0-2) 1.11 seconds 1.10 seconds
Long (3 or more) 1.53 seconds 1.38 seconds

Spreading Activation Model

When information becomes easier to access as a result of having been used
recently, we say it is more activated. This activation spreads between semantically
related concepts.

Empirical Evidence:

• Subjects are faster at confirming that a pair of words are both words if the
second word is an associate of the first, for example, bread and butter
(Meyer and Schvaneveldt 1971).
• Given a word, subjects are asked to give an associated word. Their response
is faster if subjects have responded with an associated word on a previous
trial (Perlmutter and Anderson, figure 6.8).
• Speed of activation seems to be about 200ms (as measured by Ratcliff and
McKoon, 1981).

Implication: Text is easier to read if semantically related words are used.

Practice and Strength

We've seen that speed of recall of information from long term memory depends in
part on how recently that information has been activated. However, what about the
fact that speed of recall also depends on amount of practice? Activation changes
quickly over time. The effect of practice decays much more slowly over time
(witness Ebbinghaus, the alphabet). Thus these are believed to be distinct

Power Law of Learning

A very robust result: the effect of practice in a wide range of different tasks fits a
power law

Reaction Time equals C * Practice Time K where C and K are constants that
depend on the task.

Practice helps a lot at first, then provides decreasing gains as you reach the limits
of your performance ability.

Long-Term Potentiation - There appears to be a neural basis for this law of

learning. Neural pathways in the hippocampus (known to be involved in learning)
become increasingly sensitive when stimulated. The change in sensitivity follows a
power law relationship.

Depth of Processing
Craik and Lockhart (1972) proposed that strength of memory depends on how
deeply information is processed, not on how long it is processed

Experimental support: Memory for words not improved by merely repeating them
for a longer period of time (Glenberg et al. 1977). A large number of studies
support the depth of processing conclusion. It applies to subject matter learning as
well as laboratory situations. Subsequent work focused on what constitutes deep

Processing Meaning:

Some lab studies compare tasks that require processing meaning of words versus
form (e.g., what letters do they have).

Elaborative Processing and Text

Studies show benefits of connecting the items to be remembered to other related
information (e.g., elaborating on sentences to be remembered, or rhyming).
Intention does not matter. Subjects in deeper processing conditions do better
regardless of whether they know they will need to remember the processed items.

Implications for study habits and method.

1. Preview the material

2. Make up questions
3. Read, trying to answer the questions
4. Reflect while you read. think of examples, relate it to what you know.
5. Recite the information in each section after you've read it. Re-read what
6. you can't recall.
7. Review the major points and the answers to your questions at the end.

• Question generation is at least as beneficial as question answering.

• Questions generated before the material rather than after may be more

Forgetting: Gone, or Inaccessible

Do we forget because the information is gone, or do we forget because we can't
access information that is still there? It is difficult to distinguish the two. However,
there is evidence that we retain more than we can retrieve.

Experiment: (Nelson 1971) - Learn paired associates (numbers to nouns). Tested

2 weeks later to see which were remembered. Then given new material to learn
that had some of the forgotten numbers, both with and without their original nouns.
Results: Subjects relearned the original associations faster (in spite of the fact that
they could not recall them). Subjects relearned the original associations faster (in
spite of the fact that they could not recall them). This suggests that some
associative information was retained. One possible interpretation: strength of
memories decay gradually. If these strengths fall below a certain threshold, we
can't recall the information, but the remaining memory trace is still there to
facilitate relearning.

Forgetting: Decay or Interference?

Is forgetting due to decay of unused information, or to interference of new
information with old information? Different kinds of evidence are offered for each

A survey of forgetting research concluded that the rate at which we forget

information usually conforms to a power law: we forget a lot at first, but over time
the rate of forgetting diminishes.

Decrease in long-term potentiation follows a similar power law. These facts are
interpreted by some as evidence for a physiologically determined decay rate.

Interference Experiments Typical Experiment (A-D C-D paradigm):

1. Subjects all learn A-B association (between items on list A and items on list
2. Experimental subjects learn A-D associations (which use the same stimuli
items as the A-B associations), while control subjects learn C-D association.
3. Everyone is tested on A-B associations.

Typical Results: Experimental subjects take longer to learn their second set of
associations than controls, and make more errors on the A-B test. Experimental
subjects take longer to learn their second set of associations than controls, and
make more errors on the A-B test. These results are interpreted as evidence that
learning new associations to stimuli causes forgetting of old associations.
However, interference does not happen with factual material when the additional
facts are redundant with (e.g., causally related to) the original facts.

Fan Effect (a model) - Interference effects can be modeled as weakening of

spreading activation over multiple links in a propositional network.

Stimulus activates concept nodes.- Fixed (limited) amount of activation spreads

from activated nodes over associative links, divided equally between links. (Hence
the more links, the less activation per link.) Activation converges at propositional
nodes (candidate responses) until one emerges as the answer. Time to identify the
response is inversely related to level of activation.
Decay or Interference? Some claim that interference can produce the appearance of
decay although it appears, both mechanisms are involved in forgetting or memory

Retrieval and Inference

It is well established that people make inferences during retrieval, and believe that
they saw or heard things that they in fact did not. People are more likely to
erroneously think they read a sentence if it is an implication of something they

Effect of Prior Knowledge - People add other knowledge they have about the
material studied.

Effect of Question Wording - Subjects shown film of automobile accident.

Subjects asked: Did you see a broken headlight? or Did you see the broken
headlight? (There was actually none.) Results:Subjects more likely to respond yes
to the broken headlight. Implications for courtroom testimony!

Other Facts about Memory

Organization of Material

Retrieval of information is better if the information is organized in some manner

supporting systematic search, such as in hierarchies.

Method of Loci

The ancients remembered things by imagining taking a familiar walk, and placing
the things to be remembered at locations along the way. This method works
because it organizes the material to be remembered and it encourages elaborative
processing and memorable imagery.

Context-Dependent Learning

Physical and emotional context may be inadvertently coded as retrieval cues, along
with the intended cues.

Consistent with this idea, various studies show that recall is better when tested in
the same context (physical or emotional) as in which learning took place. Some
benefit has been found studying for important exams in the same room as they will
be taken. However these results are variable.

This page is featured in the scene between the master infinite player and the
apprentice in Infinite Play The Movie
Human Memory The Science

Theories and Processes underlying memory, memorization improvement are a few

basic concepts. Although we will not go into extensive detail about theories of
memory, we will present some of the basic ideas to help you understand why
certain techniques work.

Brain mind memory encoding, storage, retention, and retrieval

Understand your brains natural memory rhythms and take advantage of them to
improve your memory, memorization skills and enhance your learning

Memory memorization and related learning principles

Improving memory - memory enhancing techniques methods for improved


An Empirical Investigation Into the Effect of Beta Frequency Binaural Beat Audio
Signals on Four Measures of Human Memory

Memory and related learning principles

Mnemonic Techniques and Specific Memory Tricks to Improve memory and

memorization techniques Tricks to improve memory and memorization

Generic Long Term Memory memorization

Hermann Ebbinghaus- Memory learning memorization maximizing recall retention

Underlying memory improvement are a few basic concepts. Although we will not
go into extensive detail about theories of memory, we will present some of the
basic ideas to help you understand why certain techniques work.


The first process of memory is attention. There is much more information in your
environment than you can process at any one time. Thus, you must make choices
(conscious and unconscious) regarding the stimuli to which you will attend.
Imagine two students who are driving to Padre Island, TX for spring break. Both
have different plans for how they want to spend their vacation: one listening to
local bands, the other surfing and swimming. They stop to eat at a sidewalk cafe,
where they are approached by a stranger who asks if they know of a surf shop
nearby. Assuming they passed one on the way to the cafe, the chances are that the
surfer, but not the friend, would have remembered seeing it. Had the stranger asked
about music clubs, you might find the opposite scenario. Each one likely attended
to what was of interest. We will have more to say about attention later, but we
present the idea here to emphasize the roles attention and selection play in our


Once something is attended to, it must be encoded to be remembered. Basically,

encoding refers to translating incoming information into a mental representation
that can be stored in memory. You can encode the same information in a number
of different ways. For example, you can encode information according to its sound
(acoustic code), what it looks like (visual code), or what it means (semantic code).
Suppose, for example, that you are trying to remember these three types of
encoding from your notes. You might say each of the terms aloud and encode the
sounds of the words (acoustic), you might see the three types of encoding on your
page and visualize the way the words look (visual), or you might think about the
meanings of each of the terms (semantic).

How does encoding apply to memory? Well, the way you encode information may
affect what you remember and how you recall it later. If you encoded the three
things visually or acoustically, but not semantically, you may be able to list them
during a test, but you may have difficulty recalling what each term means. If you
encoded them only semantically, you might be able to explain what they mean but
have difficulty remembering the order in which they were listed on the page.

You may be able to remember information best if you use techniques (while
retrieving the information) that are related to the way you encoded it. For example,
if you encoded something visually, you will be able to recall it most easily by
drawing on visual cues. You will find that many of the memory techniques
discussed in this section are designed to help you encode the information in
different ways.


Storage is the process of holding information in your memory. A distinction is

often made between short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory is just
that, brief and transient. Think about looking up a new phone number in the phone
book and making a call. You may remember it long enough to make the call, but
do not recall it later. This is your short-term memory, which can hold a small
amount of information for a short period of time. Once you stop attending to the
number, perhaps after you make the call and move on to another task, you are
likely to forget it. In order to remember the number for a longer period of time (and
after attending to other things), you would need to store it in your long-term

The transfer of information from short- to long-term memory can be achieved in

many ways. Simply repeating the information can help if it's repeated enough
times. For example, frequently called phone numbers are remembered because you
have used (repeated) the number many times. Although simply repeating, or
practicing, something can help move it into long-term memory, another strategy
for transferring information is to think about it deeply. That is, elaborate on the
information, drawing connections between what you are trying to remember and
the other things with which you are already familiar. You might learn that
telephone number quicker, for example, if you notice that it includes the dates of
your friend's birthday, the numbers on your license plate, or some other familiar
number pattern.


Retrieval is the process of actually remembering something when you want to. If
you think about tip-of-the-tongue experiences, when you know a word or name but
just can't seem to recall it, you will understand how retrieval is different from
storage. In terms of memory improvement, it can help to understand how the
retrieval process relates to encoding and storage. Consider the relationship between
retrieval and encoding. If you encoded something visually, but are trying to
retrieve it acoustically, you will have difficulty remembering. Like encoding,
information can be retrieved through visualizing it, thinking about the meaning, or
imagining the sound, etc. The more ways information has been encoded, the more
ways there are for retrieving it. Imagine that you are taking a test in which you are
given a definition and asked to recall the word it describes. You may recall the
page of your notes that the word was on and visualize the word, or you might say
the definition to yourself and remember yourself repeating the word. Thus,
memory is aided by encoding and retrieving information in multiple ways.
Retrieval relates to storage as well, Obviously the memory has to be stored in order
for you to retrieve it, but knowing how it was stored can help. This is where
elaboration and processing come in. When attempting to retrieve information, it
helps to think about related ideas. For example, you are trying to remember a
chemistry formula during an exam. Although you are able to visualize the page of
your chemistry notes, you cannot recall the exact formula. You do remember,
however, that this same formula was used in the biology class you took last
semester. As you think about that class, you are able to recall the formula. This is
one reason why intentionally organizing information in your memory when you are
learning it helps you recall it later.


Attention ----> Encoding ----> Storage ----> Retrieval

Here are the steps of memory discussed thus far. First, you select the information
to which you will attend. You then code the information for storage (where it can
be practiced and processed more deeply). Later, when needed, information is
retrieved by using a search strategy that parallels how the information was coded
and stored.


Although information can be stored in long-term memory for extended periods of

time, "memory decay" does take place. In other words, we can forget what we
learn. In fact, we forget things quickest shortly after we learn them. This has two
implications in terms of improving our memory. First, as disheartening as it is, you
will often learn a great deal more than you can retain in the long run. But, before
you lose heart entirely, keep in mind that the memories can be retained with a little
effort. So, the second implication for improving memory involves maintaining
memories with the least amount of effort. In order to retain information in memory,
you must practice, think about, and sometimes relearn things. Every time you
practice and relearn the information, you are reinforcing it in your memory. Taking
a few moments to do frequent, but brief, reviews will save you time by helping you
retain what you have learned. For example, it's a good idea to make rehearsal part
of your reading and note-taking regimen. When you complete a reading
assignment or a note-taking session, take a few minutes to rehearse the material as
a way of moving the information from short-term to long-term memory. Not that
this practice alone is sufficient to prepare for most test, but it will enhance your
understanding and recall of the material, facilitating serious study.

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Human Memory The Science

Theories and Processes underlying memory, memorization improvement are a few
basic concepts. Although we will not go into extensive detail about theories of
memory, we will present some of the basic ideas to help you understand why
certain techniques work.

Brain mind memory encoding, storage, retention, and retrieval

Understand your brains natural memory rhythms and take advantage of them to
improve your memory, memorization skills and enhance your learning

Memory memorization and related learning principles

Improving memory - memory enhancing techniques methods for improved


An Empirical Investigation Into the Effect of Beta Frequency Binaural Beat Audio
Signals on Four Measures of Human Memory

Memory and related learning principles

Mnemonic Techniques and Specific Memory Tricks to Improve memory and

memorization techniques Tricks to improve memory and memorization

Generic Long Term Memory memorization

Hermann Ebbinghaus- Memory learning memorization maximizing recall retention

Monks, Shamans, Drum Beats, Primitive Cultures, Rhythmic Sound & The Brain

Studies have shown that vibrations from rhythmic sounds have a profound effect on brain activity. In
shamanic traditions, drums were used in periodic rhythm to transport the shaman into other realms of reality.
The vibrations from this constant rhythm affected the brain in a very specific manner, allowing the shaman to
achieve an altered state of mind and journey out of his or her body .

Brain pattern studies conducted by researcher Melinda Maxfield into the (SSC) Shamanic State of
Consciousness found that the steady rhythmic beat of the drum struck four and one half times per second was
the key to transporting a shaman into the deepest part of his shamanic state of consciousness. It is no
coincidence that 4.5 beats, or cycles per second corresponds to the trance like state of theta brain wave activity.
In direct correlation, we see similar effects brought on by the constant and rhythmic drone of Tibetan Buddhist
chants, which transport the monks and even other listeners into realms of blissful meditation.

The gentle pulsating rhythms (binaural beat) of our brain synchronization tapes act in a similar fashion, yet
because the frequencies are computer generated, they are precise, consistent and can be targeted to induce
highly specific and desired brain states. Much
like tuning a radio to get a particular station, our
brain synchronization tapes can induce a variety of brain states. Effecting Alertness, Concentration, Focus &
Cognition Relaxation, Visualization, & Creativity Intuition, Memory, Meditation Vivid Visual Imagery Deep
Sleep, Detached Awareness

There are frequencies/rhythms which when dominant in the brain correlate with a specific state of mind.
There are generally 4 groupings of brain waves:

1. Beta waves range between 13-40 HZ. The beta state is associated with peak concentration, heightened
alertness and visual acuity. Nobel Prize Winner, Sir Francis Crick and other scientists believe that the 40HZ
beta frequency used on many Brain Sync tapes may be key to the act of cognition.

2. Alpha waves range between 7-12 HZ. This is a place of deep relaxation, but not quite meditation. In Alpha,
we begin to access the wealth of creativity that lies just below our conscious awareness - it is the gateway, the
entry point that leads into deeper states of consciousness. Alpha is also the home of the window frequency
known as the Schumann Resonance, which is the resonant frequency of the earth's electromagnetic field.

3. Theta waves range between 4-7 HZ. Theta is one of the more elusive and extraordinary realms we can
explore. It is also known as the twilight state which we normally only experience fleetingly as we rise up out of
the depths of delta upon waking, or drifting off to sleep. In theta we are in a waking dream, vivid imagery
flashes before the mind's eye and we are receptive to information beyond our normal conscious awareness.
During the Theta state many find they are capable of comprehending advanced concepts and relationships that
become incomprehensible when returning to Alpha or Beta states. Theta has also been identified as the gateway
to learning and memory. Theta meditation increases creativity, enhances learning, reduces stress and awakens
intuition and other extrasensory perception skills. When the brain is in Theta it appears to balance
sodium/potassium ratios which are responsible for the transport of chemicals through brain cell membranes.
This appears to play a role in rejuvenating the fatigued brain.

4. Delta waves range between 0-4 HZ. Delta is associated with deep sleep. In addition, certain frequencies in
the delta range trigger the release of Growth Hormone beneficial for healing and regeneration. This is why
sleep, deep restorative sleep is so essential to the healing process.
Memory and related learning principles

The Principles of Short-Term and Long-Term Memory. This principle of long-

term memory may well be at work when you recite or write the ideas and facts that
you read. As you recite or write you are holding each idea in mind for the four or
five seconds that are needed for the temporary memory to be converted into a
permanent one. In other words, the few minutes that it takes for you to review
andthink about what you are trying to learn is the minimum length of time that
neuroscientists believe is necessary to allow thought to go into a lasting, more
easily retrievable memory.

Recognition is an easier stage of memory than the recall stage. For example, in an
examination, it is much easier to recognize an answer to a question if five options
are listed, than to recall the answer without the options listed. But getting beyond
just recognizing the correct answer when you see it is usually necessary for long-
term memory, for the more we can recall about information the better we usually
remember it.

Understanding New Material. First and most important, you must make sure that
you understand new material before trying to remember it. A good technique to
ensure understanding is to recite or write the author's ideas in your own words. If
you cannot, then you do not understand them. The conclusion: you cannot
remember what you do not understand. In other words, you cannot form a clear
and correct memory trace from a fuzzy, poorly understood concept.

In the classroom, do not hesitate to ask the instructor to explain further a point that
is not clear to you. If the point is unclear to you, there is a good chance that it is
unclear to others, so you will not be wasting anyone's time. Furthermore, most
instructors appreciate the opportunity to answer questions.

Getting it right the first time. We have learned that all remembering depends on
forming an original, clear neural trace in the brain in the first place. These initial
impressions are vitally important because the mind clings just as tenaciously to
incorrect impressions as it does to correct impressions. Then we have to unlearn
and relearn. Incorrect information is so widespread that Mark Twain once wrote,
"Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned."
Evaluate the Learning. Another way to improve retention is through evaluation.
After you have studied, work the matter over in your mind. Examine and analyze
it; become familiar with it like a friend. Use comparison or contrast: how is this
topic like or different from related topics? If the learning concerns things
conjectural, do you tend to agree or disagree? Are there aspects of the subject
which you can criticize? Analytical thinking encourages you to consider the matter
from various aspects and this kind of mental manipulation makes you more
knowledgeable. For all these reasons, recall is significantly improved.

The Principle of Over learning.

After you have recited a lesson long enough to say it perfectly, if you continue
reciting it a few times more, you will over learn it. A well known psychologist and
researcher, Ebbinghaus, has reported that each additional recitation (after you
really know the material) engraves the mental trace deeper and deeper, thus
establishing a base for long-term retention. For many people over learning is
difficult to practice because, by the time they achieve bare mastery, there is little
time left and they are eager to drop the subject and go on to something else. But
reciting the material even just one more time significantly increases retention, so
try to remember this and utilize the technique when you can.

The Principle of Recitation

There is no principle that is more important or more effective than recitation for
transferring material from the short-term memory to the long-term memory. For
one thing, you are obviously in the process ofrepeating the information. Recitation
can take several forms -- thinking about it, writing it out, or saying it out loud.
"Thinking about it" is potentially the least effective because it gives us the least
amount of reinforcement since writing or speaking involve more electrical muscle
movement messages to the brain which are known to increase mental response and
recording. Vocal, "out loud" recitation is usually the most effective single
technique for review because it employs more of the senses than any other review
technique (utilizing both auditory and vocal senses.) If, for example, when
reviewing your notes immediately after class the reviewing is done by vocal
recitation, you will not only be consolidating the new information but also
strengthening the neural traces made to your brain.

What is recitation? Recitation is simply saying aloud the ideas that you want to
remember. For example, after you have gathered your information in note form
and have categorized and clustered your items, you recite them. Here's how: you
cover your notes, then recite aloud the covered material. After reciting, expose the
notes and check for accuracy. You should not attempt to recite the material word
for word; rather your reciting should be in the words and manner that you would
ordinarily use if you were explaining the material to a friend. When you can say it,
then you know it. (This is why it is best NOT to recite directly from the text.)
How recitation works. Recitation transfers material to the secondary or long-term
memory. While you are reading the words in a sentence or paragraph, the primary
memory (short-term memory) holds them in mind long enough for you to gain the
sense of the sentence or paragraph. However, the primary memory has a very
limited capacity, and as you continue to read, you displace the words and ideas of
the initial paragraphs with the words of subsequent paragraphs. This is one reason
for not remembering everything in the first part of the chapter by the time we reach
the end of the chapter when we read continually without taking a break or taking
time to review what we have already read.

It is only when we recite or contemplate the idea conveyed by a sentence or

paragraph that the idea has a chance (not guaranteed) of moving on into
the secondary memory (a long-term storage facility).

All verbal information goes first into the primary memory (short-term memory).
When it is rehearsed (recited), part of it goes into our secondary (long-term)
memory. The rest of it, usually the part we are least interested in, returns to the
primary memory and is then forgotten.

Whether new information is "stored" or "dumped" depends, then, on our reciting it

out loud and on our interest in the information.

After this The amount remembered by students The amount remembered by

number of days who did no review was students who reviewed was

7 33% 83%

63 14% 70%

Remembering. As a student, one of your main concerns is to retain old learning's

while you continue to acquire new ones. Do we remember more when we begin to
study a subject or after we already know something about it? According to several
recent studies, learning which involves memorization of a unit of material begins
slowly, then goes faster, and finally levels off. In other words, the amount learned
per unit of time is small at first, then increases, and then becomes small again. This
finding contrasts with older studies which showed that learning was rapid at first,
then became slower until it leveled off.

Even though a person continues to study, he may expect to encounter periods when
there seems to be little or no gain. Such plateaus in learning may be due to several
causes such as fatigue, loss of interest, or diminishing returns from using the same
inefficient methods. Another explanation of plateaus is that they
represent pauses between stages of understanding; when the student acquires a new
insight, he can move on. Sometimes the lower stage of an understanding or a skill
may actually interfere with progress to a higher level. For example, learning to
read by individual letters of the alphabet interferes with learning to read by words.
Learning to read word-by-word delays reading by phrases or sentences.

The important thing is to recognize that plateaus or periods of slow learning are
inevitable, and they should not discourage the student unduly. Learning may still
be taking place, but at a slower pace. Recognizing that he is at a plateau, the
student should first try to analyze and improve his study methods, if possible.
Sometimes, however, an incorrect mental set may be interfering with the necessary
perception of new relationships. Sometimes slow learning may simply be due to
fatigue. In either of these circumstances the most efficient procedure may be to
drop the activity temporarily and return to it later, after a good night's rest.

The rate at which a student learns depends upon his learning ability, but slow
learners remember just as well as fast learners, provided that they have learned the
material equally well. The reason a bright student may do better on examinations is
that he has learned the subject matter more effectively within the time available.
But if a slower student spends enough time on his studies, he can retain every bit as
much as the faster student. Fortunately, there is evidence that both rate of learning
and rate of retention can be improved with practice.

The Principle of Neuro-Transmitter Depletion

Often students study or attempt to read for too long a period of time without
stopping for a rest break. B.F. Skinner and other experts have concluded that the
average student cannot usually study really difficult material efficiently for more
than about four hours a day. Then efficiency and memory begin to suffer. Research
shows that the average student cannot study effectively on the same subject for
more than about four consecutive hours, even with short breaks every hour. What
occurs is what is referred to as The Principle of Neuro-Transmitter Depletion.
Neuro-scientists have developed techniques to monitor activity (usually defined as
electrical impulses) and chemical changes in the brain during study or thought
processing. If one studies the same subject too long, fatigue, boredom, sometimes
slight disorientation may occur. It is a common result of too much consecutive
study when even the most simple concept begins not to make sense any longer.
The monitoring of brain activity and chemical changes indicate that studying too
long results in a depletion of chemicals in the brain cells necessary for efficient
processing of information. Therefore, for effective consolidation of material into
memory storage, take frequent breaks (at least 10 minutes every hour) and do not
attempt to deal with really difficult material for more than about four hours a day,
and do not study any easier subject area (even with breaks) for more than four
consecutive hours.
cognitive psychology
Cognition is the act of knowing, and cognitive psychology is the study of all human activities related to knowledge.
These activities include attention,
creativity, memory, perception, problem solving, thinking, and the use of language.
Until about 1970 the cognitive approach had little impact outside the experimental laboratory. In the years since then,
however, various cognitive theories
of personality have been developed, as well as information-processing analyses of intelligence tests and a number of
cognitively oriented therapies (see
cognitive therapy).
Cognitive psychology arose partly as a reaction to behaviorism. The behaviorist insistence that only stimuli and
responses lay within the scope of
science had long prevented the effective study of higher mental processes. The establishment of cognitive psychology
broke this taboo.
Characteristic Methods
In cognitive psychology the human mind is conceived of as a structured system for handling information. According to
most cognitive theories,
information picked up by the senses is analyzed, stored, recoded, and subsequently used in various ways; these
activities are called information
processes. They need not be represented in consciousness; cognitive psychology relies very little on conscious
introspection. Instead, experiments are
designed to take advantage of various objective indicators of information processing: reaction-time measurement,
response selection, performance in
memory tests, and so on. Mathematical and logical analyses of such data are used to construct models of the
underlying processes. These models are
not intended to represent actual brain mechanisms. Although it is assumed that all mental activity has some
physiological basis, that basis is of little
concern to most cognitive psychologists. Just as the program of a computer can be described without knowledge of its
physical construction, it is hoped
that the program of mental information-processing can be understood without regard to the machinery of the brain.
The analogy between brain and computer, or mind and program, has influenced cognitive psychology in many ways.
Concepts such as code, information
storage and retrieval, buffer, and executive routine frequently appear in cognitive theories. Moreover, some cognitive
psychologists regard their field and
artificial intelligence as coordinate sciences that borrow concepts from one other (see cognitive science). Not all
subscribe to this view, however. Some
feel that the differences between human and artificial intelligence are so great that the analogy is misleading.
Topics of Investigation
Although the historical roots of cognitive psychology go back to introspective psychology and associationism, its
modern form took shape in the 1950s.
Donald Eric Broadbent's Perception and Communication (1958) was the first book entirely devoted to human
information processing. It introduced the
notion of several distinct kinds of storage systems (memories) of limited capacity and of attention as a mechanism for
filtering incoming information. A
wide range of new techniques for the study of information processing was soon devised and led to a number of
important discoveries. Using brief visual
presentations of letters and numbers, for example, George Sperling demonstrated the existence of a special visual
information store (subsequently
called iconic memory) with almost unlimited capacity but very short duration. It is now supposed that recoding from
iconic memory to more lasting forms
of storage takes place by both verbal and nonverbal means.
Subsequent research resulted in the further division of memory into various parts or types. A short-term memory of
sharply limited capacity, which is
primarily verbal and shows rapid forgetting, has been distinguished from a long-term memory that shows little
evidence of any limitations at all. Special
kinds of memory for visual material have also been postulated, and techniques now permit the objective study of
visual imagery. Recent research has
dealt not only with episodic memory for personal experiences but also with semantic memory, which is essentially
one's store of knowledge.
Reaction-time methods have been used to explore the structure of semantic memory, and there have been a number
of attempts to model that structure
with computer programs. The success of these attempts remains controversial.
Several other areas of interest have concerned cognitive psychologists from the first. One of these is pattern
recognition: how does the informationprocessing
system categorize and distinguish among objects? Another is attention: how and at what level does the individual
select among the available
alternative sources of information? There has also been continued work on the higher mental processes: decision
making, problem solving, and thinking.
Much of the work has involved computer simulation as well as experiment.
At first, cognitive psychologists were primarily concerned with explaining the phenomena uncovered in their own
laboratories. Their work soon brought
them into contact with other intellectual traditions, however, and these contacts have led to new theoretical initiatives.
The field of psycholinguistics, for
example, was created by applying experimental methods to the study of language. It has been heavily influenced by
concurrent developments in
linguistics itself, especially the work of Noam Chomsky.
The development of cognitive processes in the growing child has also become a subfield in its own right, strongly
affected by the work of Jean Piaget
and his students. The perceptual theories of Eleanor and James Gibson use a different definition of information and
reject the concept of information
processing entirely. Although these developments have given rise to new theoretical disagreements among cognitive
psychologists, they have also given
a renewed impetus to the field as a whole.
Ulric Neisser
Further Reading:
Altarriba, J., ed., Cognition and Culture (1993).
Galotti, K., Cognitive Psychology In and Out of the Laboratory (1994).
Honeck, R., ed., Introductory Readings in Cognitive Psychology (1994).
Neisser, U., Cognition and Reality (1976).
Grolier Online print version http://gme.grolier.com.ccny-proxy1.libr.ccny.cuny.edu/page?tn=/printemail/p_see_article...
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Sternberg, R., The Nature of Cognition (1999).
Strube, G., and Wonder, K., eds., The Cognitive Psychology of Knowledge (1993).