Three Main Theories That Explain How We Remember are: 1. Theory of General Memory Process 2. Information-processing Theories 3. Levels of Processing Theory.
Several theories have been proposed by psychologists to explain how we remember or how memory works.
These theories are useful in giving information accumulated by psychologists about memory.
Some important theories are:
1. Theory of General Memory Process:
This theory explains that the memory consists of the three cognitive processes. These are— An encoding process, a storage process and a retrieval process.
Encoding is the process of receiving a sensory input and transforming it into a form, or a code which can be stored.
Storage is the process of actually putting coded information into memory. Retrieval is the process of gaining access to the stored, coded information when it is needed.
2. Information-processing Theories:
The ideas about memory that emphasize the processing of information in stages, or steps are known as information-processing theories or models. A number of such models have been proposed. The most prominent among them is the storage and transfer model developed by Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin (1968).
Storage and transfer model:
In this model, Atkinson and Shiffrin have suggested three different memory storage systems: Sensory stores, a short-term store and a long-term store.
According to this model the process of memorisation starts with picking up of information by our sense organs from the environment. Then this information will travel through nervous system and reaches the brain where it is evaluated.
The sensory information must stay in nervous system for very short duration, approximately for less than a second to allow the brain to interpret. This stage is called sensory storage.
Then this information is passed on to the short-term store where it is held for about 30 seconds. Some of the information reaching short-term memory is processed by being rehearsed-that is, having attention focused on it, being repeated over and over, and this is a conscious activity. The information not so processed is lost. Finally the information rehearsed may then be passed on to long-term store.
When information is placed in long-term store, it is recognized into categories, where they may reside for days, months, years or for a lifetime. This long-term store is assumed to have almost unlimited capacity for the storage.
This organised and stored information in the long-term store which is in the coded form is transferred back to the short-term store, where it is decoded and employed for response as ordered by the brain through motor nerves.
3. Levels of Processing Theory:
This theory was suggested by Craik and Lokhart (1972). According to this theory, there is only one kind of memory, and the ability to remember depends upon the depth of information processing.
If the information is processed in a superficial and shallow level, the forgetting will be more, and on the other hand, if the information is processed deeply, it will remain in memory for long time and helps us to remember when needed.