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Describe the Processes Underlying the Human Memory

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Describe the Processes Underlying the Human Memory The processes underlying the human memory are extremely complicated and to this day relatively little is known about it. The memory is in actual fact one of our most important functions, without our memory we would not be able to learn, associate or improve. There are two types of memory storage, the long-term memory (for anything more than a few seconds) and the short-term memory. Both these functions are accessed in different ways by our brain and interpreted into meaningful data. The short-term memory can hold a small amount of information, approximately 5-9 characters such as a telephone number (this is called "The Magic Number Seven plus or minus two), for a matter of seconds. A short-term memory model by Atkinson and Shiffrin in 1968 cited by Russell (1979) states that the short term memory functions by accepting information constantly into 7 slots, this information is then rehearsed until more information enters the slots and it is displaced. ...read more.


In one experiment by Godden and Baddeley, (1975) cited by Davies and Houghton (1995)a team of sixteen people was used, each remembering a list of words, eight people learned the lists underwater while the other eight learnt the lists on dry land, they then asked the people to recall the numbers both underwater and on land, the people who learnt the lists underwater recalled the words better underwater and the people on land recalled better on land. When encoding through interpretation we convert the information into something we understand or can relate to, for example if trying to remember two words, such as Dog and Bicycle we can imagine or picture the Dog riding the Bicycle, the more vivid the image the more likely we are to remember it. We also use elaboration when encoding in the long-term memory, similar to encoding through interpretation, we will picture a scenario in our minds and use this scenario to remember the information required. ...read more.


Within the same strain is the idea that people will recall certain things about a situation that are relevant to them, for example someone who is a hairdresser may recall an individual's hairstyle or someone who has an interest in clothes may only remember what the assailant was wearing. Emotional situations can also hinder memory recall, for instance a victim may find it hard to remember even the slightest detail of crime due to emotional strain experienced at the time, this lack of recall is also common in other areas such as exams and pressured interviews. Many of us also repress memories that we do not wish to remember; Freud's theory (1915) suggests that any memories or experiences that are unacceptable to our norms are repressed by our conscience (namely the super-ego) and can only be retrieved by psychoanalysis. There are currently many techniques being developed to aid memory, particularly in the criminal investigation areas. The memory is still a relatively unknown quantity and we can only guess at the true potential the mind has for recall. ...read more.

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