the retention of information or experience over time


the process by which information gets into memory storage

selective attention

focusing on a specific aspect of experience while ignoring others

divided attention

concentrating on more than one activity at the same time (i.e., multi-tasking)

sustained attention

the ability to maintain attention to a selected stimulus for a prolonged period of time

executive attention

involves action planning, allocating attention to goals, error detection and compensation, monitoring progress on tasks, and dealing with novel or difficult circumstances

levels of processing

a continuum of memory processing from shallow to intermediate to deep, with deeper processing producing better memory


the formation of a number of different connections around a stimulus at any given level of memory encoding


the retention of information over time and how this information is represented in memory

Atkinson-Shiffrin theory

memory storage involves three separate systems: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory

sensory memory

holding information in its original sensory form for only and instant

echoic memory

auditory sensory memory

iconic memory

visual sensory memory

short-term memory

Limited-capacity memory system in which information is usually retained for only as long as 30 seconds unless we use strategies to retain it longer


grouping information that exceeds 7+/-2 memory span into single units


conscious repetition of information

working memory

allows us to hold information temporarily as we perform cognitive tasks; a mental blackboard

long-term memory

the relatively permanent storage of information

explicit (declarative) memory

the conscious recollection of information, such as specific facts or events and, at least in humans, information that can be verbally communicated

episodic memory

memory for one's personal past experiences

semantic memory

memory for knowledge about the world

implicit (nondeclarative) memory

Consists of our skills and conditioned responses

procedural memory

a type of implicit memory that involves motor skills and behavioral habits


the activation of information that people have in storage to help them remember new information better and faster


a preexisting mental concept to help organize and interpret information


A schema for an event, often containing information about physical features, people, and typical occurrences.

parallel distributed processing

theory that memory is stored throughout the brain in connections among neurons; they work together to process a single memory


the process of getting information out of memory storage

serial position effect

the tendency to recall the items at the beginning and end of a list more readily than those in the middle

encoding specificity principle

information present at the time of encoding is an effective retrieval cue

context-dependent memory

when the recall situation is similar to the encoding situation

interference theory

people forget because other information gets in the way of what we want to remember

proactive interference

the disruptive effect of prior learning on the recall of new information

retroactive interference

the disruptive effect of new learning on the recall of old information

decay theory

passage of time increases forgetting