Read this Comprehensive Essay on Memory: Meaning, Nature and Types of Memory !
Meaning and Nature:
Memory is one of the important cognitive processes. Memory involves remembering and forgetting.
These are like two faces of a coin. Though these two are opposed to each other by nature, they play an important role in the life of an individual.
Remembering the pleasant experiences makes living happy, and on the other hand remembering unpleasant experiences makes living unhappy and miserable. So here forgetting helps individual to forget unwanted and unpleasant experiences and memories and keeps him happy.
In this way, remembering the pleasant and forgetting the- unpleasant both are essential for normal living. In the case of learners, remembering is very important, because without memory there would be no learning.
If learning has to progress, remembering of what is already learnt is indispensable, otherwise every time the learner has to start from the beginning.
The memory is defined as ‘the power to store experiences and to bring them into the field of consciousness sometime after the experience has occurred’. Our mind has the power of conserving experiences and mentally receiving them whenever such an activity helps the onward progress of the life cycle.
The conserved experience has a unity, an organisation of its own and it colours our present experience.
However, as stated above we have a notion that memory is a single process, but an analysis of it reveals involvement of three different activities- learning, retention and remembering.
This is the first stage of memory. Learning may be by any of the methods like imitation, verbal, motor, conceptual, trial and error, insight, etc. Hence, whatever may be the type of learning; we must pay our attention to retain what is learnt. A good learning is necessary for better retention.
Retention is the process of retaining in mind what is learnt or experienced in the past. The learnt material must be retained in order to make progress in our learning. Psychologists are of the opinion that the learnt material will be retained in the brain in the form of neural traces called ‘memory traces’, or ‘engrams’, or ‘neurograms’.
When good learning takes place –clear engrams are formed, so that they remain for long time and can be remembered by activation of these traces whenever necessary.
It is the process of bringing back the stored or retained information to the conscious level. This may be understood by activities such as recalling, recognising, relearning and reconstruction.
Recalling is the process of reproducing the past experiences that are not present. For example, recalling answers in the examination hall.
It is to recognise a person seen earlier, or the original items seen earlier, from among the items of the same class or category which they are mixed-up.
Relearning is also known as saving method. Because we measure retention in terms of saving in the number of repetition or the time required to relearn the assignment. The difference between the amount of time or trials required for original learning and the one required for relearning indicates the amount of retention.
Reconstruction is otherwise called rearrangement. Here the material to learn will be presented in a particular order and then the items will be jumbled up or shuffled thoroughly and presented to the individual to rearrange them in the original order in which it was presented.
Types of Memory:
There are five kinds of memory. These are classified on the basis of rates of decay of the information.
a. Sensory memory:
In this kind of memory, the information received by the sense organs will remain there for a very short period like few seconds. For example, the image on the screen of a TV may appear to be in our eyes for a fraction of time even when it is switched off, or the voice of a person will be tingling in our ears even after the voice is ceased.
b. Short-term memory (STM):
According to many studies, in STM the memory remains in our conscious and pre-conscious level for less than 30 seconds. Later on this will be transferred to long-term memory.
c. Long-term memory (LTM):
LTM has the unlimited capacity to store information which may remain for days, months, years or lifetime.
d. Eidetic memory:
It is otherwise called photographic memory in which the individual can remember a scene or an event in a photographic detail.
e. Episodic memory:
This is otherwise called semantic memory which is connected with episodes of events. The events are stored in the form of episodes and recalled fully in the manner of a sequence.