Memory



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Chapter 3 : Memory



Memory arrow_upward


  • Memory is an organism's ability to store, retain and recall information and experiences.
  • Traditional studies of memory began in the field of philosophy, including techniques of artificially enhancing memory.

  • Short-term arrow_upward


  • Short-term memory allows recall for a period of several seconds to a minute without rehearsal.
  • Memory capacity can be increased through a process called chunking.
  • For example, in recalling a ten-digit telephone number, a person could chunk the digits into three groups: first, the area code (such as 215), then a three-digit chunk (123) and lastly a four-digit chunk (4567).
  • This method of remembering telephone numbers is far more effective than attempting to remember a string of 10 digits; this is because we are able to chunk the information into meaningful groups of numbers.
  • Short-term memory is believed to rely mostly on an acoustic code for storing information, and to a lesser extent a visual code.
  • However, some individuals have been reported to be able to remember large amounts of information, quickly, and be able to recall that information in seconds.

  • Long-term arrow_upward


  • 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.

  • Amnesia arrow_upward


  • Amnesia is a condition in which memory is disturbed or lost.
  • The causes of amnesia have traditionally been divided into categories.
  • Functional causes are psychological factors, such as mental disorder, post-traumatic stress or, in psychoanalytic terms, defense mechanisms.
  • Amnesia may also appear as spontaneous episodes, in the case of transient global amnesia.

  • Forms of Amnesia arrow_upward


  • Anterograde amnesia:
    • Anterograde amnesia, the loss or impairment of the ability to form new memories through memorization.
    • Persons may find themselves constantly forgetting information, people or events after a few seconds or minutes, because the data does not transfer successfully from their conscious short-term memory into permanent long-term memory.
  • Retrograde amnesia:
    • Retrograde amnesia, the loss of pre-existing memories to conscious recollection, beyond an ordinary degree of forgetfulness.
    • The person may be able to memorize new things that occur after the onset of amnesia (unlike in anterograde amnesia), but is unable to recall some or all of their life or identity prior to the onset.

    Types and Causes of Amnesia arrow_upward


  • Anterograde amnesia:
    • People who find it hard to remember ongoing events after suffering an injury to the head.
    • They do not tend to forget their childhood or who they are, but have trouble remembering day-to-day events.
  • Retrograde amnesia:
    • People who find it hard to retrieve memories prior to an incident in which they suffer damage to the head.
    • Sometimes people never remember the seconds leading up to the incident.
  • Korsakoff's psychosis:
    • Memory loss caused by alcohol abuse.
    • The person's short-term memory may be normal, but they will have severe problems recalling a simple story, lists of unrelated words, faces and complex patterns.
    • This tends to be a progressive disorder and is usually accompanied by neurological problems, such as uncoordinated movements and loss of feeling in the fingers and toes.
    • If these symptoms occur, it may be too late to stop drinking.
  • Traumatic amnesia:
    • This follows brain damage caused by a severe non-penetrative blow to the head, such as in a road accident.
    • It can lead to anything from a loss of consciousness for a few seconds to coma.
  • Infantile/childhood amnesia:
    • This refers to a person's inability to recall events from early childhood.
  • Hysterical amnesia (also known as fugue amnesia):
    • It is usually temporary and can be triggered by a traumatic event with which the mind finds it difficult to deal.
    • Usually, the memory slowly or suddenly comes back a few days later, although memory of the trauma may remain incomplete.


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