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Long-term Memory

 

Explanations > Memory > Long-term Memory

Description | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

Long-term memory is where all of our memories are stored. If something does not reach this, then for all intents and purposes, it does not exist for us.

It is one thing to have thing fall into long-term memory, but it is another to get them back out again. There are two types of retrieval: recall and recognition. Recall is where you deliberately recall something by means of thinking alone. What were you doing a week ago from today? Getting back this memory is recall.

There are many types of long-term memory, including:

  • Declarative (explicit) memory: Knowledge of facts and events.
    • Episodic (autobiographical) memory: memories of events and periods.
      • Flashbulb memory: memories of vivid periods.
      • Source memory: of where and when the event occurred (often fades with time).
    • Semantic memory: Knowledge of concepts and meaning.
    • Prospective memory: Thoughts about the future.
  • Procedural (nondeclarative, implicit) memory: Knowledge of how to do things.
    • Skills and abilities.
    • Conditioning and subconscious responses.

Discussion

Long-term memory was described by James (1890) as secondary memory (short-term memory being called primary memory).

Different types of memory may be impacted by various diseases. For example Alzheimer's Disease particularly affects episodic memory whilst Semantic Dementia affects semantic memory.

So what?

When asking a person to store or recall memories, consider the type of memory involved and the implications of this.

See also

James, W. (1890). Principles of Psychology, New York: Holt

 

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