Have you wished that your mind worked just the way your personal computer does?

Have you wondered and tried strategies that will help you remember things better?

Since, the inception of time, we humans have been curious to know about our surroundings. However, more significant has been our interest in deciphering the complexities of our inner self especially our mind.

People around the world have tried to define and understand the mystery of mind across eras and professions. In one such attempt a school within psychology came up, known as Cognitive Psychology which emphasizes on learning the manner people comprehend and represent the outside world within themselves and how our ways of thinking about the world influence our behavior.

From a cognitive perspective, learning is a process which involves transformation of information from the environment into knowledge that is stored in the mind.

Learning occurs when new knowledge is acquired or existing knowledge is modified by experience. This experience is stored in the mind in the form of memory. It has been a challenging task for cognitive psychologist to study memory. “Stage Theory or Multi-store model” by Atkinson –Shiffron in 1968 is a popular model to understand the structure of memory. It proposes that human memory involves a sequence of three stages,– sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.


Fig: Information processing model of the mind

Note: Image from Internet

Throughout the day, we sense a lot of things, but remember only a few.There is in an effective sequence which translates sensory information into memory,

let’s have a look:

Sensory Memory is associated with sensory organs, each of which has a sensory receptor and create very short lived memories, precisely of ½ – 3 seconds

Short Term Memory (STM) is a temporary storage facility for the sensory memory. STM is also called the working memory, and relates to what we are thinking at any point of time. It can be called conscious memory i.e. one we are aware of. STM can hold information for about 18 to 20 seconds. Information transfers from STM to Long Term Memory (LTM) when it receives adequate attention and is rehearsed. Information in STM fades away, or decays (forgotten) as soon as it is not attended to. When information is rehearsed strong neural connections are created in the brain, a process referred to as storage. Information can get lost if attention is directed elsewhere.
STM poses severe limits on the amount of information that passes to the Long term memory and hence, has been described as the bottleneck of the human information processing system.

Long Term Memory (LTM) is a big storage facility wherein memory can reside from minutes to a lifetime. It is relatively permanent in nature and can hold information even when you no longer attend to it. It’s not just neural activity in LTM but creation or modification of neural patterns. Storing information in LTM is equivalent to a computer writing information out to its hard drive. The information recording process is calledstorage”.

Although we have less control over the information we are exposed to, we do have a choice and control over what we store or choose to remember, as our brain functions just like our personal computers!

It is our conscious effort in the second stage i.e. while the information is residing in STM. While selecting information, giving attention to it is of crucial importance to creating strong memory (neural connection), devising strategies to encode and transfer it to long term memory is equally important.

In the next article we’ll look at how we can use different memory strategies to remember and retrieve information more efficiently!

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