Know About Different Types Of Brain Memory

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Learn about the exciting types of brain memory and how they are formed.

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Our brain is a fascinating organ that works throughout our lifetime without seizing its functions even for a moment. It keeps our memories that are inextricably linked with our identities — from the sweet memories of our childhood to remembering the address of our favorite place. Many people are not aware of the fact that our brain has different types of memories and each kind of memory has distinct uses. This interesting article will take you to the journey inside our brain memories.

What is a Memory?

It can be described as the ability to take in information, store it, and recalling it at a later time. It is a record of experiences of life that guides future action. In psychology, this whole process is broken into three stages: encoding, storage, and retrieval.

The process of memory formation

Types of Brain Memories

types of brain memory
Image credit: Queensland Brain Institute

Short-Term Memory

It allows the brain to remember a small amount of information for a short period of time up to 20 to 30 seconds. It stores information temporarily and then either discards it or transfers it to long-term memory in the brain. 

It is also known called working memory, although it is more specific to the information that we receive, use it quickly, and then remove it. For example, a phone number, a person’s name, or what you’re going to buy from the nearby shop is stored in your short-term brain memory for just as long as it takes you to use it.

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Long-Term Memory

The long-term memories are a little bit more complex than our short-term memories. It is divided into two types of memories and these are explicit (conscious) and implicit (unconscious). Anything that happened more than a few minutes ago would be encoded and stored in long-term memory. It depends on how often we recall or use these certain pieces of information.

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Explicit Memory

It is a type of long-term memory. It helps you to recall or remember things after consciously thinking about them. For example, the name of your childhood friend. Explicit memories are also divided in to two types – episodic and semantic.

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Episodic Memory

It is a type of explicit memories that relate to our own personal life experiences. For example, the day you got married or when you completed your degree, or even what you had for lunch yesterday. These memories are not necessarily accurate all the time because we reconstruct them over time. They tend to change and adapt to the new context in which we retrieve them.

Our ability to retain episodic memories depends on how emotionally powerful the experiences were. For example, some people can recall the event the lead to the break from their first love and cannot recall the same with their next partner because the first one had a more emotional impact and they were more focused than the last one.

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Semantic Memory

It refers to our general knowledge of the world. For example, the fact that the sun rises from the east, roses are red, and cats are cute. 

As compared to episodic memory, we are able to maintain the strength and accuracy of our semantic memory over time. As we age, semantic memory begins to decline slowly. 

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Implicit Memory

It is a type of long-term memory and it is also known as unconscious memory.  It comprises memories that you don’t have to consciously recall. These unconscious memories may be procedural, involving learned motor skills for example learning how to ride a bike or how to type using a keyboard.

Implicit memories can also result from priming, which occurs when exposure to one stimulus influences your brain’s response to another.

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Dr. Ankit Gaur

Dr. Ankit Gaur is a Counsellor and Family Therapist. He is an experienced healthcare professional holding two post-graduate degrees (MSc in Counselling and Family Therapy, and PharmD}. His area of specialization lies in the field of counselling and family therapy covering all types of patients from different age groups such as pediatric, geriatric, adolescents, adults, and marital couples.

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