Dr. Wahied Khawar Balwan
Memory is a key psychological process. It is our ability to encode, store, retain, and then recall information and past experiences. Without it, we would not be able to learn, function effectively or retain any knowledge gained in the past. At present, memory is not considered just a passive receiver of information but an active process that makes deductions about information and reconstructs events. Memory allows us to recall everything whether it’s our birthdays, vacations, other important days of our life the subject knowledge we gained throughout our life, the significant events which took place in past etc. Memory helps us to recognise faces, held conversations with others, remember appointments fixed for something, understand new ideas or concepts and succeed in our studies and examinations.
THE LOGIC OF MEMORY
Any effective memory system needs to do three things well. It has to be able to Encode (take in information), Store or retain that information faithfully and over a significant period of time Retrieve (be able to access) stored information.
Encoding is the first process on which, the efficiency of learning depends. This active and selective process depends on a number of factors. One among such factors is content factors which are related to the type of material which need to be encoded. It is found that the greater the volume, the more difficult is the encoding, the better organized the content, the easier is the encoding, information placed at the beginning and at the end tends to be stored more easily than that placed in the middle, the degree of familiarity with the material and the nature of the material are some of the content factors. The other factor is environmental factors. These are related to the conditions under which the encoding process takes place. Temperature, humidity, noise, affection, socio-emotional climate etc. are a few environmental factors which may stimulate or inhibit the encoding process. The next factor includes subjective factors which are related to variables in effect when encoding takes place. Subjective factors can include elements such as the learner’s state of rest or fatigue, health, or illness. Motivation, interests, and disposition are critical to the encoding process.
Storing is the second process, which makes it possible to preserve encoded information. Storing the information involves both quantitative (the duration of retention) and qualitative (the fidelity of retention) aspects. There are three different kinds of memory; the sensory store, short term (working or primary), and long-term (secondary) memory. Depending on the duration of retention, there are two levels of memory namely Short-term memory (STM) and Longterm memory (LTM). Our short-term memory works like RAM memory in computers: it provides a working space and long term memory can be compared with the hard-disk capacity of the computer. Information in short-term memory lasts from 3 to 20 seconds, and there is a limited capacity of up to seven pieces of independent information. Short-term memory is also vulnerable to interruption or interference, so background noise or someone talking to us will make remembering much more difficult. Long-term memories are much more complex than short-term ones. We store different types of information (procedures, life experiences, language, etc.) with separate memory systems.
•Explicit Memory: Explicit memory, or declarative memory, is a type of long-term memory requiring conscious thought. It’s what most people have in mind when they think of a memory. It is divided into two type’s namely episodic memory for certain events and semantic memory, which is the general store of knowledge that we draw on.
•Implicit Memory: Implicit memory is a major form of long-term memory that does not require conscious thought. It allows us to do things by rote. It involves skills that we know but could not always describe such as riding a bicycle, playing basketball, or typing. Both STM and LTM act as filters that protect our brain from the unbelievable amount of information we encounter on a daily basis. The more the information is repeated or used, the more likely it is to be retained in long-term memory (which is why, for example, reinforcement of the concepts learned is important when designing a learning program). This is the process of consolidation, the stabilizing of a memory trace after its initial acquisition.
Retrieval is the process of accessing the stored information. This occurs through recognition or recall. Recognition is the association of an event or object which one previously experienced or encountered and involves a process of comparison of information with memory, e.g., recognizing a known face, true/false or multiple choice questions. The recall involves remembering a fact, event, or object, and requires the direct uncovering of information from memory, e.g., remembering the name of a recognized person, fill in the blank questions. Recognition is simpler because it requires only one process-a simple familiarity decision. Full recall requires a 2-step process-first the search and retrieval of several items from memory, and second, choosing the correct information from the multiple items retrieved.
Association of memory and other activities
The authors of the book ‘Thinking and knowing’, presented a set of activities that memory is involved in. They are Speech and language, Concept formation, Reasoning, Movement, Attention and Perception.
SPEECH AND LANGUAGE
Speech and language learning is associated with sensory memory which is related to observation by our senses. It holds sensory information for a small period of time (a fraction of second) after an item is perceived. Language is a means of communication and human being uses language as a tool to convey the ideas and decode the message. Man always uses language to communicate with one another. Basically, there are two kinds of languages that man learns in his life, the first language (Ll) and the second language (L2). The first language is human being’s mother tongue, the language when he first hears and tries to acquire after he was born. While second language is the language that he learns after he has mastered his first language. Usually he learns the second language in the formal school. The most important thing here is that first language is acquired rather than learned and the second language is learned in a designed setting and not an acquired one. When the second language is learned, memory plays the important role. Memory is one of factors which can be used to predict the performance of a student’s learning foreign language. There are three important rolesof working or short- term memory in learning language or language processing are language comprehension, language production, and vocabulary acquisition. Language processing takes place in working memory. It acts as a temporary store that helps in language comprehension process. In language production, the pronunciations of the words are put in linear order in working memory on the basis of the syntactic and semantic relations in the intended utterance before the construction of a motor program that produces the utterance. Working memory helps in storing and rehearsing of the new vocabulary through phonological loop before it is transferred to the long term memory. This information is very useful to not only the teacher who teaches the second language in formal class but also for the independent learner who tries to learn language. In this case they can maximize the function of memory in learning language.
•Concept Formation: While learning a new concept, students listen to the explanation given by a teacher, or the images shown by the teacher, in all these methods, sensory memory takes the information provided by the senses and retains it accurately but very briefly in short-term memory which further gets registered in the next stage of retention, long-term memory.
•Reasoning: Memory and reasoning are interdependent, e.g., memory processes may rely on reasoning processes and vice versa. Some of the studies conducted on false memory, metamemory, working memory, analogy etc. confirmed the interconnection between memory and reasoning. Working memory is used for storing information in a highly accessible state so that other mental processes, such as reasoning, can use that information. Some working memory tasks require that participants not only storeinformation, but also reason about that information to perform optimally on the task. Inductive and deductive reasoning takes place using memory. For example, being able to remember the similarities (and differences) between two animals seems central to explaining how a property shared by these categories will be generalized. Moreover, working memory seem likely to play a role when we assess the similarity between the features of things we are generalizing from and the features of things we are generalizing to.
•Movement: Human memory taking in information, storing it and retrieving it accuratelyis key to a variety of crucial decisions made in medicine or law and physical movements like dance. Cognitive scientist has studied memory for dance to understand the different types of cues that dancers use to learn and remember choreography. She has also studied how martial artists, aerobics instructors; and musicians learn and remember sequences of movement. After performing hundreds of lab experiments, class observations, surveys and interviews, Day found that dancers use three basic types of cues to remember movements: words, visual images and movement-based cues. As both explicit and implicit memories are used when dancing, the ease with which movements are learned and remembered is highly dependent upon how structured the movement sequences are.
•Attention: Attention and memory cannot operate without each other. First, memory has a limited capacity, and thus attention determines what will be encoded. Second, memory from past experience guides what should be attended. Brain areas that are important for memory, such as the hippocampus and medial temporal lobe structures, are recruited in attention tasks, and memorydirectly affects frontal parietal networks involved in spatial orienting. At a basic level, memory is undoubtedly fundamental to perception. One could not recognize their mother’s face or a car as a car, without the ability to match perceptual input with representations stored in memory. The results of the study show that memory mechanisms in cortical sensory circuitry serve to bias competitive interactions, influencing what is attended and selected.
•Perception: Perception and memory are intimately interlinked-perceiving an object would be meaningless without the ability to recall and link it to corresponding memories. A study shows that visual working memory can influence our perceptions, so that mental images in the mind’s eye can alter the way we see things. Working memory holds and manipulates limited amounts of information for a short period of time. This information is usually relevant to the task at handwhen making a phone call, for example, we might repeat the number to ourselves several times until we have dialed it; once we’ve dialed the number, we stop the repetition and then quickly forget it. The study provides evidence that visual working memory and perception interact with each other, and this may be because the same brain machinery is eo-opted for both processes.
In neuroscience view, through genetic manipulation techniques or through certain smart drugs or neurochemical agents, the functioning of the neural components underlying memory can be improved. However, from behavioural science perspectives, the amount learned simply depended on the time spent in learning. Memory and forgetting go hand-in-hand. Forgetting has different causes and different rhythms at different ages and that the most effective way to combat forgetting is repetition. The optimal amount of repetition (neither under nor over), spacing the repetition, the number and duration of pauses in the repetition and logical repetition rather than mechanical repetition can help in improving memory.
Memory is essential to learning, but it also depends on learning because the information stored in one’s memory creates the basis for linking new knowledge by association. It is a symbiotic relationship which continues to evolve throughout our lives.
“Any error in this manuscript is silent testimony of the fact that it was human effort”
Dr. Wahied Khawar Balwan
Senior Assistant Professor (Zoology)
Govt. Degree (PG) College Bhaderwah, J & K, India
E-mail: [email protected]
Mob. No.: +91-94193-69557