Memory Processes

  • The three processes involved in memory are encoding, storage, and retrieval.
  • Encoding is putting information into memory and includes structural, phonemic, and semantic encoding.
  • In storage, information is maintained in a three-stage process involving sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.
  • Working memory is an active system that allows people to remember, manipulate, and store information.
  • Long-term memory is organized into categories, as well as by familiarity, relevance, and relationship to other memories.
  • Retrieval is the process of getting information out of memory. Retrieval cues are stimuli that help get information out of memory.
  • Retrieval cues include associations, context, and mood.

Types of Memory

  • Implicit memory is unconscious retaining of information, whereas explicit memory is conscious, intentional remembering.
  • Declarative memory is recall of factual information, whereas procedural memory is recall of how to do things.
  • Semantic memory is recall of general facts, while episodic memory is recall of personal facts.


  • Hermann Ebbinghaus was the first researcher to conduct scientific studies of forgetting. Using himself as a subject, he discovered that much information is forgotten within a few hours after learning it.
  • Retention is the proportion of learned information that is remembered.
  • Researchers use three methods to measure forgetting and retention: recall, recognition, and relearning.
  • Causes of forgetting include ineffective encoding, decay, interference, retrieval failure, and motivated forgetting.

Enhancing Memory

  • Memory is enhanced by rehearsal, overlearning, distributed practice, minimizing interference, deep processing, organizing information, mnemonic devices, and visual imagery.

The Biology of Memory

  • The hippocampus is involved in long-term memory.
  • Memories may be stored in different areas of the brain.
  • There may specific neural circuits for particular memories.

Distortions of Memory

  • Memories are reconstructed in many ways after events happen, which makes them prone to distortion.
  • Memories can be distorted by schema, source amnesia, the misinformation effect, the hindsight bias, the overconfidence effect, and confabulation.

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