Memory: Memory and Long Term Memory Essay

Submitted By ashley9111
Words: 1913
Pages: 8

49692402 – Psychology

Memory is a fragile process. Examine this statement with reference to psychological theory.

There are many definitions of memory but the basic function is to retain and recall information. Psychologists have realised that memory is a major component in order to get by, not only to succeed in an academic or career orientated world but generally within life. Memory surrounds us in the form of birthdays, appointments, song lyrics, exams and even finding your way home. All that said memory is not as simple as it seems, there are many sub groups within the main functioning’s of memory. And ongoing debates and theories into the complexes of what is reliable and what is not. Through a minority of these theories I hope to convey the fragility of memory.

The basics of memory begin with encoding, storage and retrieval. Laying down memories, attempting to store them and then retrieving them at a time of need. The issues here lay within retrieval; although moments in life are memories in one point in time, they still can and will be lost. The question is, are they lost forever? Or are they lost within the subconscious, in the mind, but currently inaccessible. Another case is that the memory could not have been stored significantly into the short term memory, meaning it would never enter the long term memory for retrieval at a later date. Short term memory is known only to store information up to a maximum period of 30 minutes. Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) came up with a model that suggested memory is made up of a series of stores, sensory, short term and long term.
(Mcleod, S. 2010)

They suggest that in order to recall a memory it must be rehearsed, rehearsed enough that it will follow through to long term memory. An example of this could be hidden within music, if you’ve heard a song multiple times, you know all the words, could recite it given the chance then this is long term memory, although unknowingly rehearsing the words of a song it is now within your long term memory. Although have your ever come across a song you know all the words but not the title/song writer? Then this is short term, you are bound to have heard it at some point in time although not enough to rehearse, meaning it was within your short term memory and most likely decayed or displaced.

The displacement theory suggests that information picked up from the sensory memory could be displaced between STM and LTM. Waugh and Norman (1965) state that there are seven slots of memory that can be filled, once that’s the case original information will be displaced by new and incoming information. Waugh and Norman did a lab experiment in order to test their theory; they gave participants a list of 16 digits and asked them to recall them at different intervals. The results show that 20% of participants could recall from the beginning of the list and 80% from the end of the list. Therefore proving there is a capacity to the intake of information individuals can take in before it is displaced with new information. As a result people generally seem to remember the last few digits and some of the first, with very few ever recognising the middle section, this is because long term memory stores the first set of digits with short term memory storing the last, there is no appropriate level of memory suited to remember the middle section. This proves how delicate the processes of memory is, that although long term memory has the capacity to store billions of thoughts, in the short term we can only take in a certain amount of information. Almost as if memory acts as a filtering system of the mind, that it filters out the memories of misuse, only to allow specifically significant memories to pass through to the long term memory.

Another theory is that over time memories will decay, in other words fade or deteriorate as time passes. Therefore proving difficult to retrieve the information/memories in the future. As a student of criminology the