Memory is the faculty of the brain by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved when needed.
Memory is vital to experiences, it is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. If we could not remember past events, we could not learn or develop language, relationships, or personal identity (Eysenck, 2012).
Often memory is understood as an informational processing system with explicit and implicit functioning that is made up of a sensory processor, short-term (or working) memory, and long-term memory (Baddely, 2007).[better source needed] This can be related to the neuron.The sensory processor allows information from the outside world to be sensed in the form of chemical and physical stimuli and attended to with various levels of focus and intent. Working memory serves as an encoding and retrieval processor. Information in the form of stimuli is encoded in accordance with explicit or implicit functions by the working memory processor. The working memory also retrieves information from previously stored material. Finally, the function of long-term memory is to store data through various categorical models or systems (Baddely, 2007).[better source needed]
Explicit and implicit functions of memory are also known as declarative and non-declarative systems (Squire, 2009).[better source needed] These systems involve the purposeful intention of memory retrieval and storage, or lack thereof.Declarative, or explicit, memory is the conscious storage and recollection of data (Graf & Schacter, 1985). Under declarative memory resides semantic and episodic memory. Semantic memory refers to memory that is encoded with specific meaning (Eysenck, 2012), while episodic memory refers to information that is encoded along a spatial and temporal plane (Schacter & Addis, 2007; Szpunar, 2010). Declarative memory is usually the primary process thought of when referencing memory (Eysenck, 2012).[better source needed]
Non-declarative, or implicit, memory is the unconscious storage and recollection of information (Foerde & Poldrack, 2009). An example of a non-declarative process would be the unconscious learning or retrieval of information by way of procedural memory, or a priming phenomenon (Eysenck, 2012; Foerde & Poldrack, 2009; Tulving & Schacter, 1990). Priming is the process of subliminally arousing specific responses from memory and shows that not all memory is consciously activated (Tulving & Schacter, 1990), whereas procedural memory is the slow and gradual learning of skills that often occurs without conscious attention to learning (Eysenck, 2012; Foerde & Poldrack, 2009).[better source needed]
Memory is not a perfect processor, and is affected by many factors. The ways by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved can all be corrupted. The amount of attention given new stimuli can diminish the amount of information that becomes encoded for storage (Eysenck, 2012). Also, the storage process can become corrupted by physical damage to areas of the brain that are associated with memory storage, such as the hippocampus (Squire, 2009). Finally, the retrieval of information from long-term memory can be disrupted because of decay within long-term memory (Eysenck, 2012). Normal functioning, decay over time, and brain damage all affect the accuracy and capacity of memory.
Sensory memory holds sensory information less than one second after an item is perceived. The ability to look at an item and remember what it looked like with just a split second of observation, or memorization, is the example of sensory memory. It is out of cognitive control and is an automatic response. With very short presentations, participants often report that they seem to "see" more than they can actually report. The first experiments exploring this form of sensory memory were precisely conducted by George Sperling (1963) using the "partial report paradigm". Subjects were presented with a grid of 12 letters, arranged into three rows of four. After a brief presentation, subjects were then played either a high, medium or low tone, cuing them which of the rows to report. Based on these partial report experiments, Sperling was able to show that the capacity of sensory memory was approximately 12 items, but that it degraded very quickly (within a few hundred milliseconds). Because this form of memory degrades so quickly, participants would see the display but be unable to report all of the items (12 in the "whole report" procedure) before they decayed. This type of memory cannot be prolonged via rehearsal.
Three types of sensory memories exist. Iconic memory is a fast decaying store of visual information; a type of sensory memory that briefly stores an image which has been perceived for a small duration. Echoic memory is a fast decaying store of auditory information, another type of sensory memory that briefly stores sounds that have been perceived for short durations.Haptic memory is a type of sensory memory that represents a database for touch stimuli.