The memory is the continuous interactive and generative mental process of being able to store or retain and remember information. The information stored may include ideas or thoughts, what one has experienced in past and knowledge as well. Human memory system is complex in terms of the biological functioning and even though mechanism is the same, the unique memory data vary from one individual to the other. This system is concentrated on the human brain and is made up of three memory stores, sensory memory, the working memory and the long term memory (Myers, 2006).
Sensory memory is the first form of memory where it buffers the stimuli or information that one receives by means of sensory organs. This information is stored in the exact form that was received for example as image or sound. There exists a sensory memory channel for each of the senses where iconic memory exists for visual stimuli, haptic memory for sense of touch and the echoic memory for the aural stimuli. Sensory memory only lasts for few seconds but only exists long enough to process the information, make interpretations as well as making decisions on which captures attention and is essential for storage. The processed information is then passed on to the short term memory (Mohs, 2011).
Short term memory picks over from sensory memory and continues processing the information. Here data is brought to our awareness and this memory lasts for about thirty seconds. Information retention has a limited capacity. It is estimated that this memory can hold up to a maximum of seven pieces of information even though this capacity can be increased and retained longer through repetitive actions or rehearsal. The short term memory has an aspect of the working memory which enables one remember current tasks they are working on. From here important information one wishes to remember is pushed to long term memory (Mohs, 2011).
Long term memory is different from the sensory and short term memory since it stores information relatively in a permanent mode and has an unlimited capacity in terms of storage. Information is stored semantically, that is in a meaningful and organized manner. Long term memory has been divided into three kinds of memories. First, the procedural memory which is responsible for storing responses to stimulus as well as such things as procedures and patterns. Second is the episodic memory which remembers as all life events and past experiences. Last is the semantic memory which retains factual data like symbols, words and concepts (Heffner, 2009).
Even as these entire activities take place between three memory types, there are three processes that take place that enable remembrance. The first process is the encoding which is the starter process to crating memory. It is an active biological process connected to the senses and starts with recognition of new information and links it to knowledge that already exists making the new data more understandable. Another process is the storage where the actual information is retained or maintained in memory through a physiological change that enables this storage. The third process is the information retrieval which involves getting the information in the same form it was stored in memory through the process of encoding (Weiten, 2010).
In the sensory memory, pre-attention which enables cognitive function helps in information flow. During the encoding process, elaboration and addition of visual images help in enhancing capability to remember. In the short term memory, paying particular attention and according interests as well as making information have some personal relevance also helps in information flow. Displacement, where new information is replaced by new one as well as information decays both acts as an impediment to information flow. For long term memory, rehearsal and repetition help in preserving information (Weiten, 2010).
Interference in memory occurs when there is a lot of information in memory making it hard to differentiate or separate one from the other. With interference, there exists data in memory but this information that has been stored is hard to retrieve. Interference can occur in two ways, proactively or retroactively. Retroactive interference takes place when information learned from a previous period is lost due to a mix up between it and the newly learned information and where both are usually related information. This kind of interference usually works backwards in time where the new information travels back to interfere with one learned before therefore obstructing the ability to correctly recall what is in mind. Proactive interference occurs when new concept which is being held in the short term memory of a person is lost because of a mix up with old similar information. Information held in memory that was learned before projects itself to the present and causes interference with what one is trying to grasp (Boeree, 2009).
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One of the ways to counter the effects of interference for better information processing during study is by learning to monitor personal thoughts where by paying attention, one thing at time, a student can grasp and store information efficiently. Another method to counter interference is by chunking or grouping together information into similar pieces in cases where many pieces of information need to be dealt with at the same time. Getting oneself involved actively during study is also an important way to fight interference. Active involvement include drawing diagrams while studying, outlining important facts and underlining where necessary, having predetermined questions about what one is about to read and also relating what is being studied to relevant personal happenings. Use of mnemonics or memory cues as well as having study groups also help to keep focus on while studying (Heffner, 2009).
There are several types of forgetting in memory which includes repressive erasure which is a strategy to erase or forget the happenings in the past from memory of people. Prescriptive erasure is another type of forgetting which comprises an act of state and is a cumulative forgetting where people try to forget as a group for peaceful coexistence. The third type is the forgetting that is constitutive of the formation of a new identity. Other types of forgetting include structural amnesia, forgetting as annulment, forgetting as planned obsolescence and finally forgetting as humiliated silence (Heffner, 2009).
Strategies that can improve memory consolidation and retrieval include having self confidence. These involves trust and believe in oneself where one discards whatever other people say including the myths about memory and instead involving oneself and learning more about memory consolidation. Another strategy that assists in information retrieval is the personal management of memory whereby a person organizes personal memory such that he or she can remember certain pieces of information one wishes to remember. In this way, rehearsal and repetitive actions helps to store this information for later retrieval (Heffner, 2009).
Mnemonics is a very powerful tool for remembrance. Mnemonic, which is the technique for remembering difficult information, is another strategy for consolidating memory. Use of acronyms is an example of a mnemonic. Another strategy for memory consolidation includes taking up challenging activities that would derive new skills and experiences hence helping an individual to be focused and engaged therefore creating an aspect of permanent memory. Memory consolidation can also be maintained through healthy living for example by having regular and sufficient sleep as well as doing regular exercise (Heffner, 2009).
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