Apersons capacity to remember and the total storeof mentally retained impressions and knowledgealso formulate memory. (Webster, 1992) We allpossess inside our heads a system fordeclassifying, storing and retrieving informationthat exceeds the best computer capacity,flexibility, and speed. Yet the same system is solimited and unreliable that it cannot consistentlyremember a nine-digit phone number long enoughto dial it (Baddeley, 1993). The examination ofhuman behavior reveals that current activities areinescapably linked by memories.
Generalcompetent (1993) behavior requires that certainpast events have effect on the influences in thepresent. For example, touching a hot stove wouldcause a burn and therefore memory would conveya message to not repeat again. All of this iseffected by the development of short-termmemory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM). Memories can be positive, like memories ofgirlfriends and special events, or they can benegative, such as suppressed memories. Sexualabuse of children and Memory 3 adolescents isknown to cause severe psychological andemotional damage.
Adults who were sexuallyabused in childhood are at a higher risk fordeveloping a variety of psychiatric disorders,anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and mooddisorders. To understand the essential issues abouttraumatic memory, the human minds response toa traumatic event must first be understood. Thememory is made up of many different sections witheach having different consequences on oneanother. Can people remember what they werewearing three days ago? Most likely no, becausethe memory only holds on to what is activelyremembered. What a person was wearing is notimportant so it is thrown out and forgotten.
Thistype of unimportant information passes through theshort-term memory. Short-term memory is asystem for storing information over brief intervalsof time. (Squire, 1987) Its main characteristic isthe holding and understanding of limited amountsof information. The system can grasp brief ideaswhich would otherwise slip into oblivion, holdthem, relate them and understand them for its ownpurpose.
(1987) Another aspect of STM wasintroduced by William James in 1890, under thename primary memory (Baddeley, 1993). Primary memory refers to the information thatforms the focus of current attention and thatoccupies the stream of thought. This informationdoes not need to be brought back to mind in orderto be used (1993). Compared to short-termmemory, primary memory Memory 4 places lessemphasis on time and more emphasis on the partsof attention, processing, and holding.
No matterwhat it is called, this system is used when someonehears a telephone number and remembers it longenough to write it down. (Squire, 1987) Luckily, atelephone number only consists of seven digits orelse no one would be able to remember them. Most people can remember six or seven digitswhile others only four or five and some up to nineor ten. This is measured by a technique called thedigit span, developed by a London school teacher,J. Jacobs, in 1887.
Jacobs took subjects (people),presented them with a sequence of digits andrequired them to repeat the numbers back in thesame order. The length of the sequence is steadilyincreased until a point is reached at which thesubject always fails. The part at which a person isright half the time is defined as their digit span. Away to improve a digit span is through rhythmwhich helps to reduce the tendency to recall thenumbers in the wrong order.
Also, to make sure atelephone number is copied correctly, numberscan be grouped in twos and threes instead of givenall at once. (Baddeley, 1993) Another part ofshort-term memory is called chunking, used for theimmediate recall of letters rather than numbers. When told to remember and repeat the letters q sv l e r c i i u k, only a person with an excellentimmediate memory would be able to do so. But, ifthe same letters were given this way, q u i c k s i lv e r, the results would be Memory 5 different. What is the difference between the twosequences? The first were 11 unrelated letters,and the second were chunked into two wordswhich makes this task easier.
(1993) Short-termmemory recall is slightly better for randomnumbers than for random letters, which sometimeshave similar sounds. It is better for informationheard rather than seen. Still, the basic principalshold true: At any given moment, we can processonly a very limited amount of information. “(Myers, 1995) The next part in the memoryprocess involves the encoding and merging ofinformation from short-term into long-termmemory. Long-term memory is understood ashaving three separate stages: transfer, storage, andretrieval. Once information has entered LTM, witha size that appears to be essentially unlimited, it ismaintained by repetition or organization.
A majorpart of the transfer process concerns how learnedinformation is coded into memory. Long-term andshort-term memory are thought to have differentorganizations. Where the STM is seen as beingorganized by time, LTM is organized by meaningand association then put into categories. Forexample, our memory takes in Coke and Pepsi asdrinks then organizes and puts them in categoriessuch as soda. An important role in the transferringof information into long-term memory is rehearsal. Memory 6 The critical aspect is the type ofrehearsal or processing that takes place during theinput time.
Simple repetition, which serves only tomaintain the immediate availability of an item, doeslittle if anything to enhance subsequent recall. Active processes such as elaboration,transformation, and recoding are activities thathave been found to enhance recall. ” (Asken,1987) Information that is stored in LTM is storedin the same form as it was originally encoded. Major forms of storage are episodic memory andsemantic memory. Episodic memory involvesremembering particular incidents, such as visitingthe doctor a week ago. Semantic memoryconcerns knowledge about the world.
It holdsmeanings of words or any general informationlearned. Knowledge of the capitals of all the stateswould be stored in semantic memory. A Canadianpsychologist, Endel Tulving discovered that therewas more activity in the front of the brain whenepisodic memories were being retrieved,compared to more activity towards the back ofthe brain with semantic memory. Retrieval, thethird process related to LTM, is the finding andretrieving of information from long-term storage.
The cues necessary to retrieve information frommemory are the same cues that were used toencode the material. Memory 7 For some,positive memories are recalled through music. Certain songs remind people of special times spentwith friends. Couples sometimes have songs thatremind them of their time spent together.
Everyonehas some way of remembering good times fromthe past. Along with positive memories come thenegative ones, which are suppressed deep in ourminds. Another word for negative is traumatic, anexperience beyond the range of usual humanexperience, (Sidran Foundation, 1994) and isbrought about with intense fear, terror andhelplessness. Examples include a serious threat toones life (or that of ones children, spouse, etc.
),rape, military combat, natural or accidentaldisasters, and torture. So how does trauma affectmemory? People use their natural ability to avoidconcern of a traumatic experience while thetrauma is happening. This causes the memoriesabout the traumatic events to emerge later. Peoplewith Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) whohave survived horrific events experience extremerecall of the event. Some people say they arehaunted by memories of traumatic experiences thatdisrupt their daily lives. They cannot get thepictures of the trauma out of their head.
Thisbrings recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or evenreliving the trauma as if it were happening now. Vietnam veterans experience this symptombecause of what Memory 8 they saw and livedthrough. Some researchers have proven in thelaboratory that ordinary or slightly stressfulmemories are easily distorted. However, thislaboratory research on ordinary memory may beirrelevant in regard to memories of traumaticexperiences. Other scientists argue that traumaticmemories are different from ordinary memories inthe way they are encoded in the brain.
Evidenceshows trauma is stored in the part of the braincalled the limbic system, which processes feelingsand sensory input, but not language or speech. (1994) People who have been traumatized maylive with memories of terror, though with little orno real memories to explain the feelings. Sometimes a current event may trigger longforgotten memories of earlier trauma. The triggersmay be any sound or smell like a particularcologne which was worn by an attacker. Whetherremembered or not, the memories are stored inthe brain, and today with hypnosis, recall can bringforth what has been deeply suppressed.
Thequestion is, does one really want to know what isnot remembered? Along with memories that arerecovered, comes the effects that follow. Short-term memory holds every experienceencountered, while long-term memory retains onlywhat’s important. Memory is stored throughepisodic and semantic memory. The retrieval ofdecoded information occurs the same way it wasMemory 9 encoded.
Memory is affected throughpositive and negative emotions, some rememberedothers suppressed. Not only is memory used todwell in the past, it also helps formulate thepresent and the future.