There are various situations and events in life which people are able to recall in a particular time while there are other cases when people will completely forget particular events no matter how important they could have been. For instance, in an attempt to test the memory of different types of people, they may be asked to list the names of the kids who they studied in preschool and most people will have difficulties remembering all of them. This means that the ability of a person to store and retrieve information is influenced by short and long memory as described in cognitive psychology. This paper aims to identify what contributes to loss of information that was learnt in the past by analyzing the processes involved in information encoding and retrieval in both the short term and long term types of memory as well as the similarities which the two types of memory possesses.
How are people able to remember past events?
Long term memory helps people in remembering past events.
Memory is the process in which learnt information is stored and the ability of a person to remember the information they had stored. The ability to learn on particular information, store the information and retrieve it after a given period of time is dependent on the relevance of the information the brain is encoding. In psychology, the process of memory formation involved three stages which includes encoding (gathering information from the outside world surrounding us and registering it into the brain), storage which involves ‘saving the memory for future references, and retrieving which involves accessing and remembering the events of the information that was encoded. This process can however be altered in some ways which might lead to loss of some vital information. The process of encoding information takes place in three steps; acoustic which involves encoding information from the way it sounds, semantic which entails encoding the meaning of information and iconic process which involves registering memory in terms of physical looks and appearance (Baddeley, 2000). The capacity in which encoded memory is able to last can either be termed as short term or long term.
As compared to short term memory, long memory is able to retrieve information that was gathered after a long period of time even after several years. Experiments carried out on various people showed that long term memory can be stored for a life time. This is because information in long term memory is stored after being processed making it easier to retrieve. This type of memory is very essentials as it helps people in remembering past events. Occurrences that happen in a person’s life are stored in the long term memory and the information can stay for as long as the person is alive. This type of memory is also of paramount importance when it comes to remembering facts. However, as much as this type of memory covers facts learnt in a person’s life, it does cover much on how the bits of information were acquired. There are different types of long term memory namely; procedural and declarative. Procedural memory is the type of memory that aids in operating or moving objects e.g. being able to operate machinery and having awareness of body organs movement (Margeret, 2005). On the other hand, declarative memory is that which is available in awareness of what surrounds us. For instance having knowledge of various destinations and being able to differentiate each one of them. Long term memory is usually encoded through semantic process as the information must have a meaning for it to be remembered.
Differences between short and long term memory
One of the main differences between short and long term memory is the process of information encoding. Long memory is gathered in regard to the meaning and relevance of the information (semantic) while short term memory is encoded acoustically by following the sound of the information. This is why it is possible to remember information gathered before an exam as one follows the sound of the sequence of words and such information is mostly forgotten after the exam. Long term memory is gathered from past experiences, relevant things we have heard or some repeated exercise in the past. Short memory on the other hand is mostly
Short term memory is deleted after a short period of time while on the other hand long term memory can be stored for a long time (McLeod, 2007). Long term memory is said to remain intact even after temporary head damage while short memory is easily erased even after constant repetition of the information.
The previous researches conducted on cognitive nature of memory mostly depended on controlled lab experiments which may be altered as people are moved away from their natural environment, a case which may affect their concentration. Also different people perceive the relevance of information in a different way and they may delete such information at different times. Hence, a recommendation on future researchers is that they should adopt direct observation methods on people living in their normal habitats and observe how these people encode, store and retrieve different types of information they gather in their day-to-day lives.
Baddeley, A. (2000). "The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory?". Trends in Cognitive Science. http://www.med.univ-rennes1.fr/iidris/cache/an/40/4003.
Margeret, W. (2005). Cognition. Crawfordsville. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
McLeod, S. (2007). Study of Memory in Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/memory.html