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The phases of Memory


Memory is the retention of information over a period of time through storage, encoding, and retrieval. For something to be considered memory, you have to take it in, store it, and then retrieve it for use in the future. Memory is a very complex things and it can let you down sometime especially when our trying to remember something, especially during an important test in your life. Also memory can also cause some confusion, especially when two people experience different events. For example, if two friends went on a trip and one said scenario A happened while the other says that scenario B happened then It could lead to lots of confusion. I think it’s fair to say that most individuals have experienced frustrations when they can’t recall someone’s name or a place that they visit. It’s obvious that memory is not installed like data is in a computer; human memory is a little more concrete. The initial stage of memory is known as encoding, in which the information is processed for storage.

When you are listening to music, or watching television you are encoding information into memory. Some data gets into memory practically effortlessly, while other requires some extensive time to get in there. How information gets stored into data is an interest in psychologist because it tends to vary from individual to individual. When we start encoding we use selective attention which means that we focus on a specific situation while ignoring everything else. It’s like showing undivided attention to a specific factor.  Although our brain is magnificent, and is more powerful than a super computer it does has its limits, and it can’t pay attention to everything at once. Divided attention also has an impact on memory, which means that people try to pay attention to too many different things at once.  When researchers measure divided attention they have participants to try and remember a list of materials, but they are asked to perform an additional task at the same time. Participants that focus their attention on one single event as opposed to trying and remember numerous of things simultaneously perform a lot better. However simply paying attention to something does not guarantee success with remembering it. Encoding is processed in three different levels. Levels of processing is known as encoding information from shallow to deep and the deeper processing produce better results than the shallow.

    Shallow level: Includes the sensory or physical characteristics of stimuli that are analyzed.  For example, we might detect some shapes of printed characters, or detect the pitch of a particular sound.
    Intermediate level: The stimulus is recognized and is given a distinct label. For example, we will identify an object that drives on the road as a car.
    Deepest Level:  Includes information that is processed semantically which means in terms of its meaning. When we get to the deepest level we make associations with things which mean that we are more likely to remember it in the future.

Time after time it seems that people memories improve when they make associations to stimuli that are used in deep processing as opposed to tuning into just the physical characteristics.  For example, you are more likely to remember someone face if you make some type of association with it as opposed to remembering how the people look.  You could attach a meaning to it or correlate the individual to a famous person. Likewise you could associate a famous individual with a friend of yours not is not a celebrity by any means.  Next, cognitive psychologists or the psychologists that studies the thinking process realize that there is more to memory than just deep processing. There’re a lot of layers of memory so to speak.  While were still on the topic of deep processing, the more extensive the processing, the better you will remember something. Elaboration is defined as the extensiveness of processing at any level.  Rather then just remembering a definition, you should come up with a deep concept of the word by thinking of examples that relate to the word his is a strategy that is used often of Kaplan’s Sat flashcards. On the front it has the word, and on the back it has the definition followed by a sentence that uses the definition properly. The primarily reason that elaboration is so successful is because it helps makes something distinct in your mind.  Just think of an event that you remembered in your life. A one that I think that affects people living today is the World Trade Center event. Most people most likely remember where they were and how they first heard the news. The people that were in the event and survived most likely have a hard time forgetting about the event and can most likely remember the sounds and all of the imagery very clearly. Speaking of seeing things clearly, imagery is a very important aspect of memory.

To make memories extremely powerful it is important to use mental imagery. An example of using mental imagery is remembering where you placed your remote control once you finished watching television last night. Some psychologists believed that using mental imagery is so powerful, because people will tend to remember images more then words. It has been proven that images can help individuals learn a foreign language. However, how intricate storage is just don’t determine how well it will get encoded. Storage refers to the ways that information stays in storage for a long period of time.  We remember some information for years, and some we forget within a minute or possibly less.  Sensory memory is a type of memory that holds information in a sensory form for an instant. It is extremely high in detail but the information is quickly loss. Think of the sounds you hear when you’re getting out of the car, or the sound of a bird singing. These are some common examples of sensory memory.  Next, short term memory is information that is usually contained in storage for 30 seconds, or less there are some other strategies used to keep it in storage longer.  Some ways that you can improve short term memory is by chunking and reversal.  We all probably have experienced with rehearsal which is the repetition of something, usually a number. If we have to remember a telephone number then an easy way to do this is to keep repeating the number. Likewise you can try and remember long numbers by chunking them. For example, look at this number and turn away and try to repeat it. The number is 7835677876. How did you do? Don’t feel too bad if you did poorly. However, you could have done better if you’re chunked or grouped the numbers together. For example rather than trying to remember this big blob of 7835677876, you can chunk in into 783-567-7876. Well, look at what we got it looks similar to a phone number.  This is an example of how chunking can b helpful in helping individuals remembers content.

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