My top three takeaways from this week’s read are based on how memory functions, ways to enhance memory, and problems with memory. From how memory functions, the three basic functions associated with the information process within the brain are encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding is a process of feeding information into the brain system and can be automatic where information is encoded through recall, or effortful, where the receiver attentively listens to input the information into the memory system (Spielman et al., 2020). Storage is where the encoded information of kept as a permeant record through three distinct stages, sensory, short-term, and long-term memories. Long-term memory can also be implicit, memories that are part of one’s consciousness, or semantic, memories that involve recollection of certain events (Spielman et al., 2020). Retrieval is how an individual can acquire the stored information, and this process occurs through recall, recognition, and relearning.
Memory can be improved using memory-enhancing strategies that ensure information moves from short to long-term. The strategies used are rehearsal, chunking, expressive writing, and saying words aloud. Rehearsal involves conscious repetition of information that can be remembered (Spielman et al., 2020). One way to rehearse effectively is by elaborative rehearsal, where an individual thinks about the meaning associated with new information and establishes its relation to the content already stored in memory. The other way is to use mnemonic devices that help organize information for encoding purposes. Chunking organizes information into manageable chunks or bits and is useful when remembering content such as phone numbers and specific dates (Spielman et al., 2020). Expressive writing improves short-term memory, especially when experiences about certain events in life are written. As the name suggests, saying words aloud is a strategy where things can be remembered by simply saying them aloud.
The main problem with memory is amnesia, which occurs in two types. Anterograde amnesia is often associated with brain trauma resulting from a blow to the head. The challenge with this type of amnesia is the inability to form new semantic or episodic memories (Spielman et al., 2020). Retrograde amnesia refers to memory loss for events, especially those that occurred before the trauma (Spielman et al., 2020). The inability to remember results from the challenge with encoding information. Therefore, one can remember nothing as long as they never stored it. Therefore, the question about the reading becomes this: if law enforcement professionals understand the memory challenge faced by the victims, why then do they insist on eyewitness accounts?
Spielman, R. M., Jenkins, W. J., & Lovett, M. (2020). Psychology 2e. OpenStax College, Rice University.