The Three Memory Systems Sensory Long Term and Short Term Memory



Abstract
In this paper, I emphasize there is no such thing as a "bad" memory. Then I show the reader reasons for this explanation. First, I will discuss the three categories of memory: sensory, short term and long term memory. Then an overview of their characteristics and downfalls. Second, I talk about forgetting and the positive and negative aspects of it. Afterwards, I go into the measures of forgetting and the many theories that follow forgetting. I will also discuss two common diseases that involve memory in which I call "The Forgetting Diseases". Last I briefly talk about the five principles of remembering. All of these aspects of memory show what a memory cannot exist as a thing.









Introduction
The Three Stages of Memory
The human mind has the ability to learn many things, but learning would be impossible without memory. Without it we would respond to every situation as if we have never experienced it. There are many misconceptions of memory. One of which is that many people believe they either have a "good" or a "bad" (e.g., cannot remember things well) memory as if it were a thing (e.g., object). The word memory is merely an abstraction that refers to a process (or many processes) rather than a structure (Higbee, 1996, p. 2). Memory is divided onto three sub categories: sensory, long term and short term memory. Later, I will discuss these three categories in detail.
Memory depends on three consecutive stages: encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding is learning the information and forming a memory file. Storage is placing this memory file into a compartment such as long term memory. Lastly, retrieval recovers the memory file from where it was stored. These stages can be compared to a filing cabinet. First, information is typed on a piece of paper. Then it is placed in the filing cabinet under the correct category. Last, when the file is needed again one would retrieve it. The information will not process, if we fail to achieve one or all of these stages. We would assume we have forgotten the information. My second chapter will discuss why and how we forget. I will review two common diseases: Alzheimer\'s and amnesia. Then I will talk about the five principles of remembering.
Three Memory Systems
Sensory Memory
Weiten explains sensory memory preserves information in its original sensory form for a brief time (1998, p. 266). This "brief time" lasts for a fraction of a second. There is at least two components to sensory memory or iconic memory. First, the retina in the eye is influenced by the brightness of a stimulus. The second one involves shape recognition. It occurs in the brain after the information from the two eyes have been integrated.
Hearing also contributes to iconic memory. An example would be locating an object in a room. Although we do not think of this as memory, it involves storing and retrieving information. We often remember things when they are spoken rather then written. This is called echoic memory since it is like an echo in our mind after the word has spoken. Sensory memory is not important to the overall memory system because it is also deals with perception.
Short Term Memory
Short term memory is a name given to the system or, perhaps more appropriately, set of systems which allow this temporary storage of information which is essential for a brief period of time (Baddeley, 1982, p. 14). Short term memory, also called working memory, relies on attention and rehearsal. The retrieval process is automatic. It is an active and ongoing process that is easily disrupted. A person can only pay attention to one thing at a time and is easily distracted. Rehearsal is repeating information continually orally or mentally. Rehearsal helps keep information in short term. If the information is rehearsed often it can transfer into long term memory. George Miller discovered short term memory has a limited capacity that is an average of seven items. New information quickly replaces the old information. Working memory stores unrehearsed information for 30 to 20 seconds.
Chunking increases the limited capacity of short term memory. It places separate pieces of information into larger chunks. Chunking is usually used with numbers and letters. For example, phone numbers are