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Memory is often associated with remembering past events or information learned. It is the ability to recall and utilize information or a skill learnt at an earlier period. Matlin (2012) defines knowledge as the information stored in our memory, the cognitive functioning of our memory and the ability to utilize the acquired information.
This description implies that memory constitutes only the conscious awareness of past events. When browsing or playing video games, the brain is bombarded with a plethora of information and images, which reduce the brain’s ability to retain much information (Douvtlle, 2009). Much of the information is retained in the subconscious memory.
Memory is an essential part of our daily life. Thus, it is important to identify memory strategies that suit different content or scenarios. For the writer of this paper self-reference, episodic memory, procedural memory and semantic memory are most useful memory strategies. Understanding the different memory strategies helps one to evaluate and predict his or her learning or performance on a particular memory task.
According to Matlin (2012) self-reference occurs when a person remembers information that has relevance to the self. The writer of this paper easily recalls events that, in some way, relate to him. For example, whenever the writer encounters a new item in a shop like a pair of shoes or clothing, the writer first reflects upon his needs and desires before deciding whether to buy the item or not.
Thus, the writer’s approach reflects self-reference effect, which enhances a person’s ability to remember information associated with the self. In light of this, Sandoz (2005) notes that psychotherapists often use mental images of particular items to enhance focus on personal traits in relation to the event. This facilitates one’s memory to remember desirable or undesirable personal attributes.
Self-reference effects also work for the writer of this paper especially when learning new information. Often, the writer tends to connect any new content with old known content. This helps the writer to remember things by relating them with his perception or prior knowledge on the topic.
For example, regarding master content taught in class, the writer of this paper relates it with what they have already learned in class. Besides personal knowledge, the writer relates new information with personal experiences to enhance his long-term memory. The writer tends to have a better memory of information that relate with his personal experiences. For example, when learning about global issues, the writer of this paper understands them better if the issues are explained within the local context.
Semantic memory or map is another memory strategy that the writer uses to link a central idea to related concepts. Matlin (2012) defines semantic memory as a long-term memory that allows an individual to remember concepts or ideas that have no direct relationship with personal experiences.
Often, people need prior exposures to a given concept for its meaning to stick in the long-term memory. A study by Ojemann (2010) revealed that semantic memory involves different parts of the brain; the frontal cortex stores facts and concepts while temporal cortex stores visual images Personal factors such as mood and attitude affect the formation of semantic networks and the retrieval of existing semantic memories.
Semantic memory is the memory strategy the writer of this paper uses when learning new ideas or concepts in class. He finds clustering of concepts an effective way of remembering interconnected ideas. In particular, when learning a new concept, the writer tends to connect it with familiar concepts, hence, making the writer to forget rarely.
However, the writer does encounter difficulties when the concept is entirely new or unrelated to what is already known. When unrelated items are clustered together, the writer finds it difficult to understand the main concept and relate it with other minor concepts. Moreover, when information is accompanied with images, the writer rarely forgets important concepts because it is easy to link related ideas when visual display is used.
Episodic memory refers to an individual’s ability to recollect information or an event experienced in an earlier time (Matlin, 2012). It stores events of relevance to an individual as well as events related to interpersonal interactions. Episodic memory and semantic memory constitute the declarative long-term memory. However, unlike semantic memory, episodic memory is rather explicit (Matlin, 2012). Procedural memory is another type of long-term memory that helps one to remember specific skills or procedures.
The writer of this paper uses episodic memory when performing tasks such as driving or swimming. Episodic memory enables one to remember particular experiences associated with the present task. For example, when driving, the writer of this paper usually recalls road trip experiences, where the writer had driven to a remote area for a picnic. In addition, episodic memory allows the writer to remember how it feels to take a flight or board a train and recall specific events from experiences.
Additionally, the writer of this paper employs episodic memory to remember facts and global events such as football and tennis as well as sports and media celebrities. However, the episodic memories sometimes affect him negatively. For instance, remembering unpleasant events such as horrific events, fights, scenes of war or famine that the writer watches on various media channels.
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Procedural memory allows an individual to recall the procedure for doing a specific activity or task. According to (Matlin, 2012) procedural memory is explicit and information stored in this memory can be clearly stated and explained. It develops through a gradual process of learning and practice to achieve a particular level of performance. Procedural memories are largely subconscious; one can do a particular task such as driving without actively thinking about it. In addition, procedural memories are not easily expressed verbally.
The writer of this paper uses procedural memory when performing physical tasks such as riding a bike, driving a car, playing a guitar, or swimming. When doing all these tasks, the writer does not consciously reflect on them. The writer uses procedural memory when typing or taking notes.
One benefit of procedural memory is that it does not require full attention. As such, an individual can engage in other activities when performing tasks that rely on procedural memory. The skills such as driving skills are acquired through learning and practice. These skills are then stored in procedural memory and only retrieved when one is performing such tasks. Procedural memory allows the writer to learn and retain new skills, and apply them in different settings.
The cognitive psychology approach establishes the relationship between brain processes and memory types and functioning. Different memory strategies suit different memory tasks. Thus, it is important for one to understand the different memory strategies as a first step in enhancing one’s memory.
Procedural and episodic memories reflect different manifestations of long-term memory. They help an individual to recall experiences and specific skills. On the other hand, semantic memory allows one to retain concepts and ideas while self-reference is useful in learning new information.
Douvtlle, P. (2009). Use Mental Imagery across the Curriculum. Preventing School Failure, 49(1), 36-39.
Matlin, M. (2012). Cognition. New York: Wiley.
Ojemann, G. (2010). Cognitive mapping through electrophysiology. Epilepsia, 51(1), 72–75.
Sandoz, J. (2005). Mental Imagery and Metaphors for Recovery. American Journal of Pastoral Counseling, 8(2), 44-53.