You are on page 1of 6

[Writer's surname] 1

[Writer’s name]

[Professor’s name]

[Course title]

[Date]

Memory

Memory can be defined as the retention of, and the ability to recall, information,

experiences, skills and habits.

According to Aristotle “not only human beings and the beings which possess opinion

or intelligence, but also certain other animals, possess memory. If memory were a function of

(pure) intellect, it would not have been as it is an attribute of many of the lower animals, but

probably, in that case, no mortal beings would have had memory; since, even as the case

stands, it is not an attribute of them all, just because all have not the faculty of perceiving

time.” (Ross, W. D. (Ed.). The works of Aristotle. Volume 3. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

1930.)

As there is no model of the mind/brain which is universally agreed upon, so is the

case with the working of memory. Nonetheless, any viable model of working of memory

ought to be inline with the natural subjectivity of consciousness and with known scientific

studies (Schacter, Daniel. Searching for Memory: the brain, the mind, and the past). This

natural subjectivity in recall engages three important elements:

1. Memories are edifices made in accord with current needs, wants, influences etc.

2. Memories are frequently linked with feelings and emotions.
[Writer's surname] 2

3. Memory generally engages alertness of the memory

(Schacter, Daniel. Searching for Memory: the brain, the mind, and the past).

There are two models of thinking which have gained popularity in recent times. One

is the behaviorist model which says that thinking is a set of behaviors, and second is

cognitive psychology which says our brain is similar to a computer (Schacter, Daniel.

Searching for Memory: the brain, the mind, and the past.). Another famous model, the

Freudian model hypothesizes that memories of traumatic experiences kept stored in a region

of the unconscious. These stored memories than shape one’s conscious thoughts and

behavior.

Recent studies in neuroscience strongly support the idea that memory is a set of

encoded neural connections. If, by any mishap, some part of the brain is injured, contact to

the neural data stored there is lost. In a review of psychologists, conducted by Loftus and

Loftus, almost 84% of them said that they believe nearly all experiences get permanently

saved in human mind (Schacter, Daniel. Searching for Memory: the brain, the mind, and the

past. p. 76).

On the basis of the model defined, forgetting or loss in memory may occur due to

either inadequate encoding, or lack/absence of some retrieval cues, or passage of time and the

replacement in the neural complex by other experiences, or recurring incidents or a constrain

to maintain one sane.

Terms Used While Discussing Memory

Source Memory
[Writer's surname] 3

A number of people keep vibrant and reasonably accurate memories of incidents

which are flawed in one main characteristic, i.e. the basis of the memory. These people

imagine something happening to them in the past which actually hadn’t happened at all.

Studies conducted by researchers have shown that the capability of differentiating memory

from illusion resides on one’s ability to recall the source of that information.

Amnesia and Implicit Memory

Although every type of forgetting falls under the definition of amnesia, generally the

term is used for forgetting resulted as effects of drugs, brain injuries, alcohol, psychological

or physical injuries, like a concussion or getting knocked over.

Implicit memory is a remembrance without attentiveness. They are actually

inadequately encoded memories which may have effects on cognizant thoughts and

behaviors. Retrieval cues, in case of implicit memory, fail to bring back a complete

remembrance of some events as most of that event was not encoded.

Semantic, Procedural, and Episodic memory

Researchers have described various kinds of memory systems. But the most

frequently quoted systems are semantic, procedural and episodic. Semantic memory includes

theoretical and realistic knowledge. Procedural memory permits one to acquire new talents

and habits. Episodic memory permits one to remember incidents that define one’s life

(Schacter, Daniel. Searching for Memory: the brain, the mind, and the past. p. 17).

Accuracy and Reliability of Memory

Research has shown that people usually construct their memories after the incidence;

it shows people are prone to suggestions from others that help them fill in the gaps in their
[Writer's surname] 4

memories. This is the reason, a policeman does not show a photograph of a single person to a

victim, while investigating a crime, and ask whether he/she identifies the culprit. Therefore, if

the victim is then shown a line-up and is asked to pick out the assailant, one can never say

with any degree of surety if the victim is remembering the real assailant or the picture shown.

An interesting fact about memory is that research has shown an absence of any

noteworthy relationship between one’s own feeling of assurance about a memory and the

memory being precise. Similarly, contrary to the general belief, hypnosis does not help

memory's accuracy. As the subjects are very suggestible in hypnosis, most states do not

permit, as evidence, in a court of law testimony made while hypnotized (Loftus, Elizabeth F.

Eyewitness Testimony.).

It is also found to be possible to generate false memories in people's minds, usually by

suggestion, even of previous lives. This shows memory is so impressionable that one ought to

be extremely cautious while claiming certainty about any given memory without concrete

evidence. Researchers have also found that these false memories can also be created by

manipulating photos of historical events. The fabricated pictures can be used accidentally or

deliberately to revise the memory of that event and affect beliefs and the resultant future

behaviors. (Sacchi, Dario L. M.’; Agnoli, France; Loftus, Elizabeth F. Changing History:

Doctored Photographs Affect Memory for Past Public Events.)

Working of Memory

Nobody can say for sure exactly how memory works, still there are many models

presented by the researchers of the process. Some of the proposed models relate memory with

functioning of brain and say memory decreases with aging because neurons peter out as one

gets older. The model further says that there may be three ways to overcome this natural

phenomenon: a. come up with a technique to stop neurons from extinction; b. stimulate the
[Writer's surname] 5

production of new neurons; or c. come up with a technique to make remaining neurons

working more efficiently. Scientists have discovered ample proofs to keep them interested

that option b is the most useful and under the circumstances most feasible solution to the

problem. (Health. Brain discovery paves way for new treatment. BBC News.)

Recent neurological researches have shown some encouraging results about the

improvement in working of neurons by the use of ampakines, commonly known as "memory

drugs."
[Writer's surname] 6

Works Cited

Health. Brain discovery paves way for new treatment. BBC News. Retrieved November 21,

2008 from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/207158.stm>

Loftus, Elizabeth F. Eyewitness Testimony. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

1979.

Morris, Charles G.; Maisto, Albert A.. Psychology: The Core. Prentice Hall. 2008.

Ross, W. D. (Ed.). The works of Aristotle. Volume 3. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1930.

Sacchi, Dario L. M.’; Agnoli, France; Loftus, Elizabeth F. Changing History: Doctored

Photographs Affect Memory for Past Public Events. Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Volume 21, p. 1005–1022. 2007.

Schacter, Daniel. Searching for Memory: the brain, the mind, and the past. New York: Basic

Books. 1996.