An example of long-term memory loss I have experienced is forgetting details from my childhood memories. For example, I know that for two sequential summers my brother and I traveled to Europe to spend time with our family there. I remember the family members we visited however, exact details such as the names of cities we visited, the order in which we visited these locations, as well as the exact amount of time spent there, and the dates have long since disappeared from my memory.
The three-store memory theory by Shiffrin and Atkinson (1969) provides a framework of memory that is comparable to the processing of a computer. The three stores include the sensory store, the short-term store, and the long-term store and each of these stores differ in what type of information they store, how much of that information they can store and how long they can store information for (Shiffrin & Atkinson, 1969). In this model, information is passed between stores to be processed, similar to the input, processing, and output of a computer (McLeod, 2017). The process by which information passes through the stores is as follows: information is detected first in the sensory store, which stores a basic sensory-based impression of the stimuli (McLeod, 2017). If this stimuli registers, it is drawn into the short-term store and if meaning and/or value is attached to it then it moves along to the long-term memory (McLeod, 2017).
Using the three-store memory theory, it could be assumed that information from this time in my life was, at the time, encoded through all three stores. However, sensory and short-term memory have limited durations and capacity, so not every piece of information is going to be maintained. In this model, it is notable that for short-term memory to become long-term memory it needs to be given meaning or linked to information that is already stored. The strongest information that remains is the who of the trip, and these are my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Members of my family with whom I had and have a continuous and ongoing relationship. The exact locations were not repeated and therefore did not manage to settle into long-term memory, whereas information that I could connect with already rehearsed information/information that was repeated over the years was retained.
The levels of the processing model is comparably unstructured compared to the three-store model and refer to the idea that memories are created based on the depth to which information is processed (Lockhart & Craik, 1990). Lockhart and Craik (1990) refuted the idea that memory was based on structured concepts such as capacity, stores, coding characteristics, and rates of forgetting and suggested instead that memory was a “by-product or record of normal cognitive processes such as comprehension, categorization, or discrimination (p. 89). They also discussed that the level at which information was encoded (shallow vs deep) had more to do with whether it would be remembered (McLeod, 2007). When information involved elaborate rehearsal (connecting the information to meaningful associations) it was recalled more effectively and therefore more likely to register in long-term memory (McLeod, 2007).
This would suggest that because the places we attended were not associated with any previously held knowledge they were not deeply processed. The family members I spent time with created memories that were rehearsed through previous knowledge association and ongoing elaboration and recall. This allowed for that aspect of my memories to be deeply processed. However, the other details such as the cities, dates, etc. were only processed shallowly and therefore not retained.
Lockhart, R. S., & Craik, F. I. M. (1990). Levels of Processing: A Retrospective Commentary on a Framework for Memory Research. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 44(1), 87–112.
McLeod, S. A. (2017). Multi store model of memory. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/multi-store.html
McLeod, S. A. (2007, December 14). Levels of processing. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/levelsofprocessing.html
Shiffrin, R. M., & Atkinson, R. C. (1969). Storage and retrieval processes in long-term memory. Psychological Review, 76(2), 179–193.
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