AQA Psychology Paper 1
Long-term memory (LTM) is believed to be divided into two main types of memory. The first is declarative memory which is a type of conscious memory also known as “knowing that” memory which helps us recall facts. This is also subdivided into episodic memory and semantic memory. The other is not consciously recalled and is known as “knowing how” memory, or procedural memory. This helps us recall procedures such as how to tie our shoelaces, cycle or swim.
Episodic memory consists of memories such as our thoughts or experiences we have had and our personal recollection of them. Memories that are episodic are usually based on events that occur in peoples lives however over time they move over to Semantic memory as the events association diminishes and the memory becomes “knowledge” based. The strength of episodic memories is determined by the emotions present at the time the memory is being coded. Traumatic life events may be recalled better due to the strong emotional attachment they have and it is believed that episodic memory is what helps us distinguish between our imagination and real events. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is linked to the initial coding of episodic memories and consolidation and storage associated with the neocortex.
Semantic memory contains the knowledge, facts, concepts and meanings the individual has learnt e.g. the capital of France is Paris. Semantic memory may also relate to how certain objects work, their functions, appropriate behaviour in situations or abstract concepts such as language or mathematics. The strength of semantic memory is positively correlated with the strength of processing that occurs when coding with semantic memories lasting longer than episodic memories. Semantic LTM is linked to episodic LTM with semantic memories formed based on experiences that occur. Therefore episodic memory underpins semantic memory with episodic based experiences moving over to semantic memory over time. Semantic coding is mainly associated with the frontal and temporal lobes with opinion on semantic LTM being mixed; some argue the hippocampus is involved while others believe several parts of the brain play a role.
Procedural memory is skill based memory and focused on recalling how to do something i.e. swimming, reading or cycling and does not require conscious thought. Procedural memories are usually learn’t through repetition and practice. Language is believed to be a procedural memory as it helps individuals speak using the correct grammar and syntax without having to consciously give this thought. Procedural LTM is linked to the neocortex brain areas within the primary motor cortex, cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. This is different to declarative memory stores as it does not rely on the hippocampus to function.
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