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Types Of Memory In A Human Brain And Their Uses


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The human brain is a fascinating organ partly because of its capabilities. One of its key functions is to enable people to retain and remember information as they interact with their surroundings. Memory encompasses all the information that one can recall and empowers a person to learn, adapt to his/her environment, and develop relationships (Eysenck, 2005). This role is made possible by memory stores, which are of three kinds: short-term, long-term, and sensory memory. Their differences are largely based on the duration for which they can keep sensorial knowledge and their capacity (limited or unrestricted). These variations influence the ways in which individuals use them as the personal examples in this paper demonstrate.

Short-Term Memory Process and Example

The short-term memory denotes the second-shortest memory stage. It retains sensory data for no more than 30 seconds (Gregg, 2014). A person first becomes aware of a stimulus that interests him or her so that he or she is immediately conscious of its presence. This information is then transmitted into the short-term memory and becomes recallable when it is rehearsed (Lefrançois, 2014). As an example, I personally use the short-term memory when participating in a class debate. I must repeat my opponent’s argument in my mind while waiting for him or her to finish speaking so that I can effectively remember and counter his or her point of view.

Long-Term Memory Process and Example

As its name suggests, the long-term memory holds information the longest – indefinitely, unlike the other memory types. It contains an individual’s interpretation of his or her world, but he or she is not immediately conscious of it (Lefrançois, 2014). This knowledge is stable and, therefore, difficult to disrupt, alter, or forget over a prolonged period (Eysenck, 2005). Consequently, the long-term memory is the most unlimited, unconscious, and passive of the three memory processes. I apply the long-term memory to recall my childhood experiences. For instance, I can remember the faces and names of my classmates and teachers in elementary school.

Sensory Memory Process and Example

Sensory memory represents the initial and briefest memory phase. A stimulus occurs and ceases without one’s awareness. Next, the sensory memory automatically and momentarily stores the resultant impressions or stimulations for milliseconds (Lefrançois, 2014). The iconic component of the sensory memory forms visual images in the mind, whereas the echoic part provides echoes (auditory impressions) of the stimulus (White, n.d). An example of a personal use of the sensory memory occurs when I briefly notice birds on the trees outside my kitchen window before they quickly fly away. If I glance back no more than a second later, I still recall seeing them even if they are not presently in sight.


Information retention in the human mind is largely dependent on the memory store involved. Among the three, sensory memory retains the least data for the briefest amount of time, whereas long-term memory keeps the most data infinitely. Short-term memory mediates the two. It permits temporary information storage before passing it onto the long-term memory. Therefore, the contents of the sensory and short-term memories are readily discarded, but those of the long-term memory are often unforgettable over a significant portion of a person’s lifetime. Nevertheless, all the three processes are useful as they aid in sifting sensorial perceptions and determining the ones that an individual should attend to and commit to memory.


Eysenck, M. (2005). Psychology for AS level (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Gregg, V. (2014). Introduction to human memory (Psychology library editions: Memory). New

York, NY: Psychology Press.

Lefrançois, G. (2014). Memory and intelligence. In Psychology: The human puzzle. Available


White, R. (n.d.). The function of sensory memory. Retrieved from

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