Short and Long Term Memory

Our short and long term memory serves as a storage locker for those memories that we keep long term. It is any memory that stays with use for more than a few minutes, and is how we remember things like the names of those close to us or the rules of a board game. Long-term memory is broken down into explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious) memories.

Explicit memories are those that require us to give conscious effort to remember them. Within the explicit category are two sub-categories called episodic memories and semantic memories. Episodic memories are those memories of our personal experiences. They are what allow us to take a “trip down memory lane” and recall those events that we personally experienced. Semantic memories are memories that involve general knowledge. They are how we remember that the capitol of California is Sacramento.

Implicit memory is the other form of long-term memory. Implicit memory is also broken up into two sub-categories: procedural memory and priming. Procedural memory is the memory system that allows us to do the tasks we do on a regular basis without having to consciously think about how we actually accomplish them. This includes things such as washing your hands, riding a bike or brushing your teeth. All of these things take memory, but we do not have to stop and think through the steps to accomplish them. Priming memories are those memories that are easier to recall because you hear about them often. If you have heard about or talked about a subject recently, memory recall can happen much faster.

Short and long term memory has several sub-types that help us to accomplish what we need. Without the ability to recall and use the information that our brains take in, we would be lost. Long-term memory grants us the avenues to use what we know and store what we don’t need to pay attention to at that moment.

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