Word Count: 1384 is defined as the faculty by
which sense impressions and information are
retained in the mind and subsequently recalled. A
persons capacity to remember and the total store
of mentally retained impressions and knowledge
also formulate memory. (Webster, 1992) We all
possess inside our heads a system for
declassifying, storing and retrieving information
that exceeds the best computer capacity,
flexibility, and speed. Yet the same system is so
limited and unreliable that it cannot consistently
remember a nine-digit phone number long enough
to dial it (Baddeley, 1993). The examination of
human behavior reveals that current activities are
inescapably linked by memories. General
competent (1993) behavior requires that certain
past events have effect on the influences in the
present. For example, touching a hot stove would
cause a burn and therefore memory would convey
a message to not repeat again. All of this is
effected by the development of short-term
memory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM).

Memories can be positive, like memories of
girlfriends and special events, or they can be
negative, such as suppressed memories. Sexual
abuse of children and Memory 3 adolescents is
known to cause severe psychological and
emotional damage. Adults who were sexually
abused in childhood are at a higher risk for
developing a variety of psychiatric disorders,
anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and mood
disorders. To understand the essential issues about
traumatic memory, the human minds response to
a traumatic event must first be understood. The
memory is made up of many different sections with
each having different consequences on one
another. Can people remember what they were
wearing three days ago? Most likely no, because
the memory only holds on to what is actively
remembered. What a person was wearing is not
important so it is thrown out and forgotten. This
type of unimportant information passes through the
short-term memory. Short-term memory is a
system for storing information over brief intervals
of time. (Squire, 1987) Its main characteristic is
the holding and understanding of limited amounts
of information. The system can grasp brief ideas
which would otherwise slip into oblivion, hold
them, relate them and understand them for its own
purpose. (1987) Another aspect of STM was
introduced by William James in 1890, under the
name primary memory (Baddeley, 1993).

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Primary memory refers to the information that
forms the focus of current attention and that
occupies the stream of thought. This information
does not need to be brought back to mind in order
to be used (1993). Compared to short-term
memory, primary memory Memory 4 places less
emphasis on time and more emphasis on the parts
of attention, processing, and holding. No matter
what it is called, this system is used when someone
hears a telephone number and remembers it long
enough to write it down. (Squire, 1987) Luckily, a
telephone number only consists of seven digits or
else no one would be able to remember them.

Most people can remember six or seven digits
while others only four or five and some up to nine
or ten. This is measured by a technique called the
digit span, developed by a London school teacher,
J. Jacobs, in 1887. Jacobs took subjects (people),
presented them with a sequence of digits and
required them to repeat the numbers back in the
same order. The length of the sequence is steadily
increased until a point is reached at which the
subject always fails. The part at which a person is
right half the time is defined as their digit span. A
way to improve a digit span is through rhythm
which helps to reduce the tendency to recall the
numbers in the wrong order. Also, to make sure a
telephone number is copied correctly, numbers
can be grouped in twos and threes instead of given
all at once. (Baddeley, 1993) Another part of
short-term memory is called chunking, used for the
immediate recall of letters rather than numbers.

When told to remember and repeat the letters q s
v l e r c i i u k, only a person with an excellent
immediate memory would be able to do so. But, if
the same letters were given this way, q u i c k s i l
v e r, the results would be Memory 5 different.

What is the difference between the two
sequences? The first were 11 unrelated letters,
and the second were chunked into two words
which makes this task easier. (1993) Short-term
memory recall is slightly better for random
numbers than for random letters, which sometimes
have similar sounds. It is better for information
heard rather than seen. Still, the basic principals
hold true: At any given moment, we can process
only a very limited amount of information.”
(Myers, 1995) The next part in the memory
process involves the encoding and merging of
information from short-term into long-term
memory. Long-term memory is understood as
having three separate stages: transfer, storage, and
retrieval. Once information has entered LTM, with
a size that appears to be essentially unlimited, it is
maintained by repetition or organization. A major
part of the transfer process concerns how learned
information is coded into memory. Long-term and
short-term memory are thought to have different
organizations. Where the STM is seen as being
organized by time, LTM is organized by meaning
and association then put into categories. For
example, our memory takes in Coke and Pepsi as
drinks then organizes and puts them in categories
such as soda. An important role in the transferring
of information into long-term memory is rehearsal.

Memory 6 The critical aspect is the type of
rehearsal or processing that takes place during the
input time. Simple repetition, which serves only to
maintain the immediate availability of an item, does
little if anything to enhance subsequent recall.

Active processes such as elaboration,
transformation, and recoding are activities that
have been found to enhance recall.” (Asken,
1987) Information that is stored in LTM is stored
in the same form as it was originally encoded.

Major forms of storage are episodic memory and
semantic memory. Episodic memory involves
remembering particular incidents, such as visiting
the doctor a week ago. Semantic memory
concerns knowledge about the world. It holds
meanings of words or any general information
learned. Knowledge of the capitals of all the states
would be stored in semantic memory. A Canadian
psychologist, Endel Tulving discovered that there
was more activity in the front of the brain when
episodic memories were being retrieved,
compared to more activity towards the back of
the brain with semantic memory. Retrieval, the
third process related to LTM, is the finding and
retrieving of information from long-term storage.

The cues necessary to retrieve information from
memory are the same cues that were used to
encode the material. Memory 7 For some,
positive memories are recalled through music.

Certain songs remind people of special times spent
with friends. Couples sometimes have songs that
remind them of their time spent together. Everyone
has some way of remembering good times from
the past. Along with positive memories come the
negative ones, which are suppressed deep in our
minds. Another word for negative is traumatic, an
experience beyond the range of usual human
experience, (Sidran Foundation, 1994) and is
brought about with intense fear, terror and
helplessness. Examples include a serious threat to
ones life (or that of ones children, spouse, etc.),
rape, military combat, natural or accidental
disasters, and torture. So how does trauma affect
memory? People use their natural ability to avoid
concern of a traumatic experience while the
trauma is happening. This causes the memories
about the traumatic events to emerge later. People
with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who
have survived horrific events experience extreme
recall of the event. Some people say they are
haunted by memories of traumatic experiences that
disrupt their daily lives. They cannot get the
pictures of the trauma out of their head. This
brings recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or even
reliving the trauma as if it were happening now.

Vietnam veterans experience this symptom
because of what Memory 8 they saw and lived
through. Some researchers have proven in the
laboratory that ordinary or slightly stressful
memories are easily distorted. However, this
laboratory research on ordinary memory may be
irrelevant in regard to memories of traumatic
experiences. Other scientists argue that traumatic
memories are different from ordinary memories in
the way they are encoded in the brain. Evidence
shows trauma is stored in the part of the brain
called the limbic system, which processes feelings
and sensory input, but not language or speech.

(1994) People who have been traumatized may
live with memories of terror, though with little or
no real memories to explain the feelings.

Sometimes a current event may trigger long
forgotten memories of earlier trauma. The triggers
may be any sound or smell like a particular
cologne which was worn by an attacker. Whether
remembered or not, the memories are stored in
the brain, and today with hypnosis, recall can bring
forth what has been deeply suppressed. The
question is, does one really want to know what is
not remembered? Along with memories that are
recovered, comes the effects that follow.

Short-term memory holds every experience
encountered, while long-term memory retains only
what’s important. Memory is stored through
episodic and semantic memory. The retrieval of
decoded information occurs the same way it was
Memory 9 encoded. Memory is affected through
positive and negative emotions, some remembered
others suppressed. Not only is memory used to
dwell in the past, it also helps formulate the
present and the future.

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