Skip to content

The memory

Human memory is a mental process and one of the most important functions of the cerebral cortex of our brain; It is caused by the synaptic connection between neurons and is defined as the ability to remember.

What is memory

Although memory is not complete or absolute – in fact, many of our memories are erroneous or distorted from reality – the survival of each individual depends on the capacity of memory to remember, therefore, the importance of it does not should be underestimated.

For safe survival, an individual must remember: who is, who are others, past experiences, what is dangerous and what is safe …

Without a memory of the past, we cannot operate in the present or think about the future, therefore, a person without memory could be compared to a vegetable.

Basic memory functions

We can find three basic functions and different types of memory: encoding, storage and retrieval.

To form new memories, information must be changed into a usable form, which is produced through the process known as encoding.

After the information has been encoded, it must be stored in memory for later use. The memory that was stored is outside our awareness most of the time, but we can bring it to consciousness when we really need to use it through the retrieval process.

Let’s get to know these memory processes in more detail:


Coding: it is the process by which the information is prepared before being stored. Information can be encoded in different ways: visual, acoustic, or semantic sensory information, through images, sounds, or experiences.


Storage: the continuous encoding stage is called; When the information has already been encoded, it can be stored in short-term or long-term memory.


Recovery: it is the final memory process, which allows us to find the desired information when we need it. Through memory we can find information about events that were stored in our memory in the past.

Within the complexity of memory we can find three types, with their respective divisions.

Types of human memory

Memory has different types of memory, at first it is something peculiar, but it is not difficult to understand, take a look and discover human memory:

Sensory memory

 Sensory memory  has the ability to record for a short time the information that we perceive through our senses.

Within sensory memory we can identify two types: echoic memory and iconic memory.

Echoic memory

Echoic memory , also called auditory sensory memory , is responsible for briefly storing the first segments of the auditory stimulus; this type of memory is required to carry out a conversation and therefore to speak.

Iconic memory

Iconic memory, also called visual sensory memory , is responsible for preserving the images perceived during eye fixation for a short period of time.

This memory is responsible for capturing the movement of the images, and that they remain in our memory for a while before they fade.

Short term memory

Short-term memory or also called operative memory, retains the information generated by the environment that surrounds us, but with a limited capacity. The information obtained disappears in a period of up to 45 seconds approximately, unless it is kept in our memory with the help of the retrieval function.

According to Miller’s “lapses of absolute judgment” theory, in short-term memory we can only store seven items, with a variation of approximately +/- 2, this is because short-term memory has a limited capacity to process the stimuli that have been generated through the perception of a certain element.

In Freudian psychology, short-term memory would be referred to as the conscious mind.

You may also be interested in:   Health Psychology

One of the most common consequences of short-term memory is memory loss (forgetfulness).

Long term memory

This type of memory can permanently store information. This information is outside our consciousness, but it can be called into working memory to be used when necessary. This type of memory has an unlimited capacity for storing information.

In Freudian psychology, long-term memory would be referred to as the preconscious or unconscious mind .

Within long-term memory we can find several divisions: declarative, procedural, episodic, semantic, explicit and implicit memory .

Declarative memory: it is responsible for storing information about events; eg: names, dates, etc.

Procedural memory: it is in charge of storing the knowledge of motor skills and procedures carried out in the environment. It shows us memories that we have stored through practice; for example: how to comb our hair, how to write, etc.

Episodic memory: this type of memory stores (sometimes in detail) our experiences. It allows us to remember experiences and episodes that occurred in a certain place.

Semantic memory: this type of memory stores the knowledge necessary for the use of language , facts related to the world and general knowledge that are not generally based on own experiences, for example: a memory of a specific place can trigger memories about things related events that occurred at that location.

Implicit memory: it stores information in the unconscious about habits, abilities and thus allows us to learn to do certain things without being aware of it. For example: riding a bicycle.

Explicit memory: unlike implicit memory, with this type of memory we do know that we have this information. Explicit memory stores information about events, learnings and own experiences, of which we are fully aware.

The ability to access and retrieve information from long-term memory allows us to use these memories to make decisions, interact with others, and solve problems.

Memory disorders

Memory disorders are alterations that disturb the memory of the individual, interfere with their psychological development and affect their daily activities. These disorders can range from mild to severe, but all are the result of some type of neurological damage to brain structures. This damage makes it difficult to store, retain, and recall memories.

There are different types of disorders that affect memory, but not all affect the same structures. Among memory disorders we can find: Alzheimer’s , amnesia, hypermnesia, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, wernicke’s aphasia, among others.

Alzheimer’s:  Alzheimer’s is a memory disorder that arises with aging. This is characterized by loss of memory and other reasoning skills such as impaired language, confusion, changes in behavior, and decreased reasoning.

Amnesia:  Amnesia is a condition in which memory is impaired or lost for a short or long period of time. Those who suffered from amnesia, sometimes no longer regain those lost memories so they lose a part of their past.

Hypermnesia:  Hypermnesia is defined as an abnormal and uncontrollable exaltation of memory, generated by the attempt to retrieve a memory. Those who suffer from this condition have a higher memory capacity than other people and are able to recall information in a very detailed way.

Attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity:  The Deficit Disorder Hyperactivity Disorder  is characterized by the inability to maintain attention, restlessness, impulsivity and problems in the work organization. This disorder affects the part of memory responsible for concentration.

Wernicke: The Wernicke also known as sensory aphasia or receptive aphasia, is a neurological condition in speech. This disorder is characterized by lack of understanding of language, lack of memory of it, and verbiage.

Website | + posts

Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *