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Human Memory Processor

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Memory Processes

Memory play tricks on us but our best defense against those tricks come from an understanding of how memory works. Humans have a cognitive memory system that takes information from the senses and selectively converts it into meaningful patterns that can be stored and accessed later when needed. Memory is essentially the capacity for encoding, storing and retrieving information. All three of these processes determine whether something is remembered or forgotten. We will see how these three basic tracks of memory works.

Encoding Memory Processes

Processing information into memory is called encoding. People automatically encode some types of information without being aware of it. For example, most people probably can recall where they ate lunch yesterday, even though they didn't try to remember this information. However, other types of information become encoded only if people pay attention to it. College students will probably not remember all the material in their textbooks unless they pay close attention while they're reading.

Storage Memory Processes

The information that is encoded in the encoding memory processes is then maintained or held the storage memory processes. This information is held in the form of internal representations. In terms of a more physical level of memory storage, it is believed that when memory formation occurs there is a change in the synaptic connections that form the connections between the neurons in the brain.

Retrieval Memory Processes

Retrieval memory processes include recognition and recall. These memory processes are involved in getting information out of the memory store. When we recall we reclaim something that has been stored in our memory and bring it out into conscious awareness. Recognition is a memory process that involves searching in our memories for a match.

There are similarities and differences between encoding and retrieval processes in human memory. At first it seems that the two sets of processes are very similar. Most memory researchers would agree that a strong degree of similarity is necessary for effective remembering. Tulving as the encoding specificity principle, which states that items are encoded in a highly specific way, proposed one set of ideas and effective retrieval cues must reflect that specificity. The notion of a necessary overlap between encoding and retrieval processes is also captured by the idea of transfer-appropriate processing.

The above memory processes; encoding, storage and retrieval operate together and not in isolation from each other. For example, how well information has been coded and encoded will then affect how this information will be stored which will then go on to affect how well this information can be retrieved. Therefore, the



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