Get your competitive edge with Sketchy MCAT! Don't miss 15% OFF for Registration Day

Types of Memory Storage


Psychology & Sociology

The various types of memory storage are classified based on the duration of retention and the type of information retained. Sensory memory has the shortest retention of about one second or less and is stored in its original form, such as sound, taste, or smell. There are two widely studied forms of sensory memory: iconic memory, which retains mental pictures, and echoic memory, which retains sounds.

Short-term memory stores information for about 30 seconds, with a capacity of around five to nine items according to the "seven plus or minus two" rule. Working memory is a process that involves holding and manipulating thoughts stored in short-term memory, essential for reasoning and decision-making. Components of working memory include the visuospatial sketchpad, phonological loop, and episodic buffer. When information is committed to short-term memory multiple times, it eventually becomes a long-term memory, which is stored indefinitely. Implicit long-term memories are recalled automatically and include procedural memory, whereas explicit memories must be consciously recalled and include episodic memory and semantic memory. Autobiographical memory combines semantic and episodic memories to form a record of one's own life.

Lesson Outline

<ul> <li>Introduction to memory storage</li> <li>Types of memory storage</li> <ul> <li>Sensory memory</li> <ul> <li>Shortest retention time (less than one second)</li> <li>Stored in original form (taste, sound, etc.)</li> <li>Iconic memory (mental image)</li> <li>Echoic memory (sound)</li> </ul> <li>Short-term memory</li> <ul> <li>Retention time: 30 seconds or less</li> <li>Capacity: 5-9 items (seven plus or minus two rule)</li> <li>Working memory</li> <ul> <li>Manipulating information in short term memory</li> <li>Essential for reasoning, decision making, etc.</li> <li>Visuospatial sketchpad (manipulating visual information)</li> <li>Phonological loop (interpreting verbal/written information)</li> <li>Episodic buffer (creating mental timelines)</li> </ul> </ul> <li>Long-term memory</li> <ul> <li>Indefinite storage and recall on demand</li> <li>Implicit memory</li> <ul> <li>Automatically recalled (muscle memory, habits, etc.)</li> <li>Procedural memory (carrying out procedures without conscious thought)</li> </ul> <li>Explicit memory</li> <ul> <li>Intentionally/consciously recalled</li> <li>Episodic memory (past experiences)</li> <li>Semantic memory (facts and concepts unrelated to personal experiences)</li> </ul> <li>Autobiographical memory</li> <ul> <li>Combines episodic and semantic memories for a record of one's own life</li> </ul> </ul> </ul> </ul>

Don't stop here!

Get access to 51 more Psychology & Sociology lessons & 8 more full MCAT courses with one subscription!

Try 7 Days Free


What are the main types of memory storage and how do they differ from one another?

There are several types of memory storage, including sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Sensory memory briefly retains information from the senses, such as iconic memory for visual information and echoic memory for auditory information. Short-term memory holds a limited amount of information for a short period, while long-term memory stores vast amounts of information for extended periods, sometimes for a lifetime. Long-term memory is further divided into implicit memory (unconscious, skill-based) and explicit memory (conscious, fact-based), with explicit memory further categorized into episodic memory (events and personal experiences) and semantic memory (facts and general knowledge).

How do working memory and short-term memory differ from each other?

Short-term memory acts as a temporary storage for information that is currently in use or is being processed. It is limited in capacity and duration. Working memory is a process that involves the active manipulation of information stored in short-term memory. Working memory also involves attention and executive functions, allowing us to perform complex cognitive tasks such as problem-solving, planning, and decision-making.

What is sensory memory and how does it relate to iconic and echoic memory?

Sensory memory is the initial stage of memory storage when information from the senses is briefly retained. Sensory memory can be thought of as a buffer between our environment and perception. Iconic memory and echoic memory are types of sensory memory associated with specific senses. Iconic memory stores visual information for a brief period (approximately 1 second), while echoic memory stores auditory information for slightly longer (approximately 3-4 seconds). These fleeting memories allow us to process environmental stimuli before deciding whether to encode them into short-term memory.

What are the key characteristics of implicit and explicit memory?

Implicit memory is an unconscious, automatic form of memory storage, typically responsible for skill-based learning and habits. It doesn't require conscious effort to recall the information or demonstrate the learned skill. Examples include riding a bike or playing a musical instrument. Explicit memory, in contrast, is a conscious process that involves actively recalling or recognizing information or a specific experience. It can be further divided into episodic memory (personal experiences and events) and semantic memory (general knowledge, facts, and concepts).