What are the five types of memory?

Memory is often presented as divided between visual and auditory. In fact, it is a much more complex process, consisting of 5 types of memory. Each of them has a specific role and involves different areas of the brain.

We often hear about the distinction between a visual memory and one auditory memory. However, this distinction is only taken into account in short term memory

In fact, According to INSERMThere are five different types of memory, which are used depending on the moment and situation: working memory, semantic memory, episodic memory, procedural memory, and perceptual memory. Depending on the type of memory, specific areas of the brain play a role.

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What we call short-term memory is working memory. We use it all the time: when taking notes or listening to someone talking, for example. This memory uses the auditory side (called the vocal loop) and the visual side (called the visual-spatial notebook). Again, contrary to popular belief, only one of these aspects is rarely used. Once information is stored in working memory, it has two possible fates: moving into long-term memory or being erased.

Long-term memory consists of semantic memory and episodic memory. Semantic memory includes words, language and also all knowledge about the world around us, for example what a thing is or who a person is. Episodic memory, as its name suggests, is the recollection of events. This appears between 3 and 5 years. This is why there are so few subtle memories before this age that we remember the words we learned two or three years ago, but not the vacations we were able to experience, for example.

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On the other hand, when we specifically remember a place we visited on vacation, perceptual memory is involved. This memory, which integrates sounds and images, also serves to preserve the faces of the people we meet. It is a passive memory, which we keep without even realizing it. The same is true for procedural memory, which are mechanical movements: cycling, snowboarding, or cutting meat.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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