On a day-to-day basis humans are processing different information constantly. Have you ever wondered how this is possible? Have you ever wondered why you are able to obtain new information, store it, and then recall it for later usage? For example, how is it possible that we can study for a test one day, and then the next day we are able to retrieve that very information to use to take and pass a test? Because memory is an important cognitive process it helps us to record the past, so we are able to refer back to it at a later date. If humans didn’t have a memory, we would only be able to understand the present and our past wouldn’t exist. The urge to study how memory works and the concept behind, it has been around for many years. Scientist, and more importantly psychologist, have devoted countless hours and effort to understanding the human mind; and how something as simple as remembering what you had for breakfast yesterday could be so important to our cognitive processes and human functioning. The question still remains, what exactly is memory? How is it significant to humans and how are we able to process the different memories we have on a day to day basis.
According to Merriam-Webster, memory is the process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained. Memory also involves the process of information through encoding, storing, and retrieving (Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, n.d.). Memory is not only important in our lives, but it is very much needed. Because memory allows us to recollect our past, it allows us also to function properly in the present and plan for the future (McLeod, 2007). For example, without our memory functioning properly humans would not be able to recall what we did yesterday, what we plan to do today, and what we intend to do tomorrow. Because memory is so complex we are transmitting and transferring a great deal of information. This happens through three stages which include encoding, storage, and retrieval.
Before information is able to be stored successfully in our memory, information from our sensory input has to be changed into a form in which our brain is able to comprehend. For example, our perception of something may be different from how it is actually explained, so we have to “encode” it in order to better understand it. There are three main stages where encoding occurs; visual (picture), acoustic (sound), and semantic (meaning) (McLeod, 2007). We go through these three stages often without even realizing it. For example, when we have to remember a series of numbers for something, we may keep referring back to it so we have a mental image of it (visual), we may repeat it to ourselves ( acoustic), and it has to be significant to us otherwise we would have a need to remember it (semantic).
Storage in the human memory is the second of the three processes. The process of storing information involves filtering out and filing information so...