Long-Term Memory

long-term memory

Today we will discuss long-term memory and this is most commonly associated with remembering. We will define and explain these three processes of long-term memory; encoding, storage and retrieval.

STAGES OF MEMORY

Memory is further distinguished with regards to when the following processing occurs:

  1. Sensory register: very brief, modality specific (audio, visual, tactile etc.)
  2. Short-term memory (STM): brief limited capacity
  3. Long-term memory (LTM): essentially unlimited capacity, indefinite time periods

Long-term memory

LONG-TERM MEMORY

Is generally what we refer to when we think of memory:

  • Personal experiences, facts or skills
  • Long-term memory is a relatively permanent storage area
  • The capacity of long-term memory is effectively infinite
PROCESSES OF LONG-TERM MEMORY
  • Encoding: Converting information into a form that can be stored in LTM
  • Storage: The retention of encoded information over time
  • Retrieval: Process of getting information out of  memory (storage)
Encoding requires attention 

Encoding an object or visual feature, like colour, in long-term memory requires that we have attended to that object or visual feature. But attending to a feature does not guarantee encoding in long-term memory, it requires extra work. For example:

Maintenance Rehearsal

  • You can maintain a phone number in Working Memory by repeatedly saying it to yourself (utilising the phonological loop).
  • But it will not enter into LTM unless you specifically need to encode it! For example, if you are making a phonecall
LEVELS OF PROCESSING (LOP) THEORY (CRAIK & LOCKHART, 1972)

LOP suggests that memory is based on the cognitive processing of information rather than on specific skills within each stage of memory. The level at which new information processed determines how well it will be encoded and remembered

  • shallow” = surface features
  • deep” processing = meaningful interpretation
FLASHBULB MEMORIES

Memories created during times of personal tragedy, accident, or other emotionally significant events. Memories are especially vivid with:

  • Positive and negative events
  • Not always accurate
  • Great confidence is placed in them even though they may be inaccurate
MNEMONICS OR “MEMORY TRICKS”

A kind of memory system to aid encoding

  • Use mental pictures
  • Use rhyme or song e.g. “Thirty days have September…”
  • Make things meaningful
  • Make information familiar, personalise it.
  • Form bizarre, unusual or exaggerated mental associations
  • Establish connections between new items or with existing memories.
RETRIEVAL: TESTS OF LONG-TERM MEMORY
  • Recall: measure of memory in which the person must retrieve information learned earlier
    • Free Recall: Without assistance, e.g. “Please recall the list of numbers” or “Describe in as much detail as possible what you saw”
    • Cued Recall: A cue is used to trigger/assist memory recall e.g. “What number came after 6?”
  • Recognition: measure of memory in which the person has only to identify items previously e.g. Multiple Choice Test, Old/New Recognition test.
PARTIAL RECALL

Retrieving part, but not all of a memory. For example:

  • Remembering someone’s face but not their name
  • Being able to describe an object but not name it.

Tip-of-the-tongue effect (TOT)

  • Partial recall indicates presence but not access to whole memory
  • Due to partial activation of memory network e.g. visual component of memory without phonological (i.e. Name).
  • Will be quicker to recognise item if presented.
  • Require a cue to support retrieval of missing bit e.g. Sounds like..

Read next: ‘Short-term memory’

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