Memory and Learning

Learning involves successfully transferring the information into the long-term memory.

There are 3 types of memory

  • Sensory Memory – this is the initial processing of information that has been perceived by our senses from the environment, we must pay attention to the stimuli or it will not get registered in the working memory.
  • Working  Memory (WM)– The working memory holds information for about 10-20 seconds.  Repetition is one way that information can be kept in memory as we tend to lose about half of what we learn within 24 hours.  Working memory is usually limited to 5-9 items at a time and information must be actively processed in order to be saved in long term memory.  This type of memory tends to be sequential. There is a correlation to working memory capacity and intelligence
  • Long-term Memory (LTM) – this is the brain’s storage and retrieval system, there are no limits on capacity, and memories do not fade and are thought to be permanent.  Information is organized, connected, and stored with information previously stored in the long-term memory and this takes effort and time to complete.  Information tends to be stored by association.

So, what does this have to do with Learning?

Knowing how the memory works gives us strategies to enhance learning. Here are some learning strategies based on the workings of our memory system or information-processing system

  • Frequent rehearsal, either visually or acoustically, helps hold the information in the working memory so it can be stored in LTM
  • Engage in active learning, such as read, recite, complete problems, organize the information – this can assist with retrieval
  • Rewrite the information using your own words, we tend to better recall our own words
  • Ensure that you comprehend the information and find ways to make it meaningful to you, this helps with LTM storage
  • Create diagrams , charts, or mnenomics

This handout is a nice summary of Learning and Memory.

This page give some helpful tips to improve learning –


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