Understanding Memory in Psychology

Deborah C. Escalante

Understanding Memory in Psychology
Understanding Memory in Psychology

Memory is a vital function of the human brain that allows us to remember, recall and retrieve information. It is the ability to learn from past experiences, store that information and reuse it when needed. Memory is an important aspect of psychology that is studied by cognitive psychologists.

In this article, we will look at the different types of memory, how it works, and how it can be improved. If you are interested in understanding more about memory and how it operates in the human brain, then please read on.

The Different Types of Memory

There are three different types of memory: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.

Sensory Memory

Sensory memory refers to the initial stage of information processing where the brain collects and retains information from our senses, such as sight or sound. This type of memory is only briefly stored and can only be retained for a few seconds.

Short-term Memory

Short-term memory is the next stage and where information is held temporarily in the brain for a short period, generally a few seconds to a minute or two. This memory is commonly referred to as working memory, and is where we store information needed for ongoing tasks.

Long-term Memory

Long-term memory, as the name suggests, is the type of memory that is stored for an extended period. This memory can last for a matter of days, weeks, or even a lifetime. It can be further divided into two types: explicit memory and implicit memory.

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How Memory Works

Memory works through a complex process of encoding, storage and retrieval. When we initially learn new information, it is encoded into our memory system, which is then stored for later use. When we need to retrieve that information, it is accessed and brought back into our conscious awareness.

The memory process is also influenced by other factors, such as attention, emotion, and motivation. Attention plays a vital role in encoding information, as information that is not paid attention to is less likely to be remembered later. Emotion and motivation also play a role in encoding and retrieval, as emotionally arousing events are more likely to be remembered.

Improving Memory

Memory can be improved through several ways. Here are some tips to help you improve your memory.

Practice Recall

Practice recalling information after you have learned it. This could be as simple as trying to recall the names of people you’ve met or trying to remember a phone number.


Chunking involves breaking down information into small chunks, making it easier to remember. For example, breaking down a long phone number into smaller parts can make it easier to remember.

Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are memory aids that help in encoding information. For example, a common mnemonic device is "ROY G BIV" for remembering the colors of the rainbow.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is an important factor in memory consolidation. Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to poor retention of information.


Memory is crucial in our daily lives, and it is essential to understand its functioning. We have seen the three types of memory, how it works, and ways of improving it. By following these tips, you can improve your memory, giving a significant boost to your everyday activities.

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