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Memory & Forgetting

What is Memory?

Rybum- “The power that we have to store our experiences and to bring them into the field of consciousness some time after the experiences have occured, is termed memory.”


Process of Memory :- The process of memory can be divided into the following steps or stages:
1. Learning, 2. Retention, 3. Recall, 4. Recognition


1. Learning :- “For efficient memory, effective learning is half the battle. One must do more than get acquainted with the principles of effective learning.
2. Retention :- Retention is a very important element in memory. The experiences acquired by the learner leave some impressions or Engrams on the mind. These impressions are not easily destroyed, these engrams remain in the conscious mind for a certain period, and then they are transferred to the unconscious mind. When it becomes necessary to remember or recall some fact, these engrams become fresh, or rise to the conscious level of mind once again.
3. Recall :- The term ‘recall’ is used for the process whereby past experiences are brought back into the conscious mind. Through this process, the experiences learnt earlier and retained in the mind can be put to use as and when required. At this point, it should be clearly understood that the facts which are not clearly and properly retained, are also recalled with difficulty.
4. Recognition - It often happens that we fail to recognise a person whom we have met once before, but when that person relates how, when and under what circumstances we had met before, some facts, events and subjects connected with that situation and that person come back to our mind, and then gradually, an image of that person emerges upon our mental screen. When this image reaches a certain clarity, the activity of recognition can be said to be complete, and in this way, we become linked with that past experience. Hence, it can be said that the term ‘recognition1 means ‘consciousness of familiarity’. In a sense, recognition grants completion or perfection to the process of memory when it occurs after learning, retention and recall.


Recognition, then, is the ability which indicates to us mat a particular individual, picture, word or any other object or material has been met or experienced in the past. As compared to recall, the process of recognition is passive and slow.

6.2 Memory Classification

Memory: Classification :-

  1. Immediate memory- This kind of memory relates to a situation in which any memorized element has to be recalled or expressed at once. This memory lapses after a short time.
  2. Permanent memory- This form of memory develops in maturity and, in consequences, it is seen that elder people have less tendency to forget other individuals. The experiences gained by them assume permanence. Hence, permanent memory has a more important role in human life. To improve permanent memory (i) learning and saving method (ii) the prompting method (Hi) and the scoring methods are used and these methods prove useful for the same.
  3. Mechanical memory- This kind of memory is referred to as mechanical or habitual or physiological memory. It comes into play when the body becomes accustomed to performing a particular activity by performing it repeatedly. When it has to be performed again, there is no need to make any special effort for the memory. Motor driving provides a very suitable example of this kind of memory. Motor driver pushes those parts only already learnt by him without memorizing.
  4. Rote memory- This kind of memory is found in children because they are highly skilled in learning by rote something which they have not understood.
    For instance, learning a poem by repeating it frequently is an example of rote memory. This kind of memoryis not regarded as a superior kind of memory.
  5. Logical memory - The basis of this memory is logic or rational thought It consists in memorising a thing after rationally considering its utility and propriety.
  6. Active memory - Memory means the recollection of previously experienced facts or experiences as and when they are required. Students sitting in the examination hall bring into play their active memory in order to answerthe given questions.
  7. Passive memory - This kind of memory consists in the remembering of a past experience without any effort or requirement. This kind of recall does not have any special purpose, and neither does it require concious or deliberate efforts on the part of the individual.

6.3 Characteristic of Good Memory

Characteristics of Good Memory :-

1. Rapid learning- The quicker an object is observed, the quicker is its memorisation. Rapidity in learning is influenced by the methods of learning, environment and ability,
2. Good retention- A person’s memory is considered good if he has good power of retention, and an individual who can retain and experience for a long period of time is said to possess a good memory. Students possessing little or limited powers of retention face difficulties in passing their examinations.
3. Rapid recall- It is a characteristics of memory that whatever is learned or experienced should be recalled quickly.
4. Rapid recognition- Another important feature of a good memory is that of rapid recognition, because in our routine life there are many situations and experiences which should be recognized at once. A person possessing a good memory immediately recognises related experiences and patterns.

Memory : Influencing Factors:-

  1. Mental set
  2. Motivation
  3. Meaningful content
  4. Repetition
  5. Physical and mental health
  6. Method of learning
  7. Subject matter
  8. Testing
  9. The desire to memories
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