Encoding, storage, and retrieval are three steps in human memory. First, people receive information through physical and chemical stimuli. The received information is transformed into meaningful and useful memory. The information is associated with the existing memory, images, sounds, and colors to gain meaning. Encoding ensures that information is transformed so that it is processed by an individual’s nervous system. Senses like touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing establish human memory. Encoding occurs whenever senses receive stimuli and then convert such sensation into a neural impulse. It happens when information is entered to the long-term memory from short-term memory (Perlmutter, & Colman, 2004). In the storage step, the information undergoes a physiological change. It ensures that the memory is stored. The amount of information stored is dependent upon efforts used in information encoding as well as its importance. Lastly, during the retrieval process, memories stored initially during the encoding step are retrieved.
Retrieval is thus the process, where information stored in the memory is obtained. Retrieval of information becomes easy if it was efficiently stored and encoded. It also depends on the genetic background as well as other factors. There are two kinds of information retrieval. In recognition, memory retrieval occurs when people identify a situation, an idea or an object that they have not experienced beforehand (Perlmutter & Colman, 2004). It is the easiest memory retrieval type. On the other hand, recall occurs when people actively reconstruct some material that was previously learned. It involves expectations, attitudes and our knowledge. Information retrieval is affected by meaningfulness, association, the degree of aboriginal learning, the use of some mnemonic devices and interference (Wright, & Gaskell, 1998).
Encoding of information is enhanced by human interest and the state of his/het mind. Stress impedes encoding. When information is incomplete, it equally becomes difficult to encode it. It is also difficult to store irrelevant information. For this reason, irrelevance impedes information storage. When sufficient time is available, it becomes easier to not only encode or store but also to retrieve information. Retention of information is afected by time, information completeness, relevance, competing information, and repetition. While memory actually starts with perception, it must be encoded for a memory to be created, which is rooted within the senses (Turkington, & Harris, 2001). The visual system registers physical features, while the auditory system captures sounds. Each of these sensations travels to the hippocampus within the brain, perceptions and experiences are integrated. The frontal cortex and the hippocampus analyze varied sensory inputs. Humans have some nerve cells that are connected with other cells in the synapse, where actions happen in the brain with the other synapses. Electrical impulses leap across the gaps within the brain releasing neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that diffuse across spaces that are between cells. The dendrites receive electrical impulses (Moulin, 2011).
Interference leads to memory blockage by subsequent or previous memories. When an individual is unable to retrieve information, which he/she has experienced or learned due to retrieval interference by some previous information, such interference is known as proactive interference, since it is operating forwards in time (Braverman, 2011). Conversely, when an individual is unable to retrieve information, which he/she has experienced or learned due to retrieval interference by some later information, such interference is known as retroactive interference, since it is operating backwards in time (Fogler, & Stern, 1994). In retroactive interference, newfangled information does push old items from an individual’s memory. Proactive interference may lead to forgetting in short-term memory. Both proactive and retroactive interference can be counteracted while studying in order to attain maximum information absorption into long-term memory. Retroactive interference does not culminate in proactive interference (Andrade, 2008). Proactive and retroactive interference are distinct concepts. Interference can permanently delete memories. In some cases, the new or old data are not lost. The information may remain in the memory. Excessive learning of materials, avoiding studying the same material together and distributed practice, where learning is spaced, prevents interference. An attempt to absorb huge amounts of information results to interference. Learning and new sensations interfere wiith the information that is already in the long-term memory (Herrmann, Raybeck, & Gruneberg, 2002).
People forget information with time due to retroactive inhibition. There are primarily seven kinds of forgetting. They include repressive erasure, humiliated silence, structural amnesia, prescriptive forgetting, annulment, planned obsolescence and forgetting, which lead to formation of a newfangled identity. Absentmindedness, persistence, bias, blocking, transience, misattribution, and suggestibility are normal memory challenges (Henderson, 1999). It is normal to forget (Zechmeister, & Nyberg, 1982). In repressive erasure, states and governments remove images and events from human mind by removing every artifact, which reminds people of the event or image. Prescriptive forgetting involves parties deciding to forget a specific memory with the intent of functioning more efficiently. At times, new identity is achieved when one desires to live with a completely new identity after old memories are discarded. On the other hand, in structural amnesia, an individual remembers the people that are socially important to him/her (Dere et al., 2008). Annulment entails forgetting surplus information by discarding useless information. Forgetting can also be a planned obsolescence, where products or goods have limited functionality. Humiliated silence happens after occurrence of mishaps. It results to embarrassment (Braverman, 2011).
There are many strategies that can enhance retrieval and memory consolidation. It is important to believe in oneself. There are stereotypes regarding memory and aging. Some people believe that aging leads to failing memory. However, studies show that there are older and middle-aged people who perform worse in memory tasks (Wickelgren, 1977). Economizing of brain enables designing of reminders, such as planners, address books, file folders, shopping lists, maps, and calendars used on a daily basis. It is also important to organize thoughts. Moreover, when all the senses are used in learning of anything, brain retention memory improves. Sight, odor, emotional content, taste, and sound are important when used in learning processes. Reading helps to expand the brain. Saying things aloud, Peg-Word Systems, distributed practice, and making mnemonics also enhance memory consolidation as well as retrieval.