Types of long-term memory: episodic, semantic, procedural.

Types of Long Term Memory

Description, AO1:

Long Term Memory Diagram

(1) Episodic memory (part of the explicit LTM – (conscious))

  • Personal experiences (episodes/events) E.g. memory of your first day at school, family holiday etc…
  • Specific details of event (who was there, time and place)
  • Context (what happened before/after, why the event happened)
  • Emotions (felt at the time)

 

(2) Semantic memory (part of the explicit LTM – (conscious))

  • Facts – E.g. 2+2=4, London is the capital of England
  • This type of memory is shared by everyone (not specific to the individual)
  • Semantic memories begin as episodic memories because we acquire information via personal experience
  • May relate to things such as functions of objects, appropriate behaviour, maths, language

 

(3) Procedural memory (part of the implicit LTM – (unconscious))

  • Skills – E.g. how to tie a shoelace
  • Remembering how to do something rather than knowing why to do it.
  • Typically acquired through practice and repetition, less aware of these memories, they are automatic (thinking too much can prevent you acting them out)
  • Procedural memories are automatic so we can focus attention on other tasks simultaneously

 

Evaluation, AO3 of the types of LTM:

Strengths:

(1) Point: Scientific evidence captured from brain scans supports the view that there are different types of long-term memory. Evidence: For example, when asking participants to recall different types of information different areas of the brain are shown to be active. Episodic memories are associated with the hippocampus, semantic memories with the temporal lobe and procedural memories with the cerebellum. Evaluation: This is a strength because it provides objective evidence that different LTMS activate different areas of the brain which supports the idea that there are different types of long-term memories.

 

(2) Point: Case studies of brain damaged patients offer support for the different types of LTM. Evidence: For example, Clive Wearing is a man who suffered a viral infection. The viral infection caused him to suffer damage to his long term memory. He struggled to remember semantic and episodic memories however, he was still able to remember procedural memories (e.g. how to play the piano). Evaluation: This is a strength because it shows that it’s possible to maintain just one type of LTM, therefore supporting the idea that there are in fact different types of LTM and that they are stored separately in the brain.

 

Weaknesses:

(1) Point: Research into the different types of LTM have typically been conducted on individual patients. Evidence: For example, the research into Clive Wearing and HM are highly detailed and provide a lot of information but are fundamentally isolated cases of one individual’s long-term memory damage. Evaluation: This is a weakness because the findings cannot be generalised beyond the research. It would be inappropriate to assume that everyone’s LTM is formed in the same way based on evidence of two case studies. This means that while informative, the research findings can’t be generalised beyond the research, but does provide a good solid basis on which further research can be conducted.

 

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