While there may be certain disparities in human memory, studies have shown that human memory has a fairly similar character and undergoes the same process. Memory can be described as the process through which information is usually encoded, stored and retrieved. This process can be said to take place in steps each of which fall in any of the three categories of encoding storage or retrieval. According to research the process of memory mainly involves three areas of the human brain namely: hippocampus, amygdale and thalamus.
Steps in human memory
Like all other stimuli information is always sensed and transferred to the sensory memory. The sensory organs are located in all parts of the body including the ear. A good example in this case would involve sound hitting the ear. The ear senses the sound and transfers it to the sensory memory. The sensory memory is thought of as the thalamus capable of receiving information from the sensory organs with the exception of smell senses. This section is also responsible for step two of the information process.
The next step involves the transfer of information to the right sections of the human brain. This is done in order to have the information worked upon by the human brain. An example involves transferring a pain signal coming from the hand to the right section of the cerebral cortex for interpretation. This will be done so that the brain can interpreted the information and send back a reflex action signal.
Storage in Short Term Memory
Once information has been worked upon by the brain it is then stored in the temporally memory .Once in the temporally memory several things can occur some of which may include retrieval. Retrieval of information is done with the help of the thalamus which acts as a library catalogue. If not retrieved information is held in this stage for some time then lost.
Transfer to Long Term Memory
This marks the last step of memory; it involves transferring information from the short term memory to the long term memory. Research shows that the most common means through which information is transferred from the short term memory to the long term memory is recall. A good example of this case would involve recalling contents of a lesson learnt in class. It may be found out that such an event would make it possible to remember such contents
Factors Impeding Information Flow
- Noise and other external interferences may impede information flow in two main steps. Noise may detract the sensory process as well as transfer to long term memory-Foreign signals may be encoded instead.
- Other psychological factors such as stress and depression detract information flow in all the stages of the information flow process.
- Stigma also affects the sensing process as well as transfer from short term memory to the long term memory-These processes require energy which if not available hinders progression of information.
- Other factors that impede various stages include the amount of information-There is a limit to the amount of information that can be sensed, stored , transferred , recalled and retrieved at a time.
Proactive and Retroactive Interference
Retroactive interference occurs when a recently learned item distracts/interferes with something learnt in the past.
Proactive interference occurs when something learnt in the past interference with the recall of something that has been learnt recently.
The two can be avoided by identifying such factors through note keeping and learning them together again noting the similarities as well as the differences. Another method could be assigning the two extra recall times and through questions.
Other Forms of Forgetting
The other forms of forgetting may include failure to store and motivated forgetting. Failure to store may result from lack of recall and hence can be solved through recall. Newly learnt facts are hard to transfer to the long term memory and should therefore be assigned more time of recall. Another form of forgetting comes as motivated forgetting. A deliberate effort to avoid recall will automatically lead to forgetfulness. This can be avoided through recall, instead there should be a deliberate effort to recall facts we may not wish to forget easily.
- Shaheen,Lakhan. (2006) Neuropsychological Generation of Source Amnesia: An Episodic Memory Disorder and the Frontal Brain. Journal of Medical and Biological Sciences
- Köster EP, Piper D. Degel J,( 2002). Retroactive and proaactive interference in implicit odor memory. Royal Veterinary & Agricultural University journal
- Gregory S. Matthew M. Information Processing Theory Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/information-processing-theory/. On 11th April 2013