Types of Long Term Memory

  • Created by: hlouiset
  • Created on: 07-05-16 15:23

Episodic Memory

Episodic memory stores events from peoples lives.

The memories are complex as they are time-stamped and involve several elements such as people, places, objects and behaviours.

A conscious effort has to be made to recall the memories.

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Semantic Memory

Semantic memory stores knowledge of the world.

The memories are not time-stamped. 

Semantic knowledge is less personal and more about general knowledge (knowledge everyone shares).

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Procedural Memory

Procedural memory stores memories for actions and skills.

Recall occurs without effort or awareness. This means that people may find it difficult to explain a skill to someone else.

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Eval. Strengths

Brain scan studies support the separate long term memory stores - Tulving (1994) had participants perform various memory tasks while their brains were scanned with a PET scanner. Episodic and semantic memories were located in the prefrontal cortex; semantic on the left and episodic on the right. This shows physical reality in the brain to different types of long term memory - High validity

Real-life application - Certain kinds of memories can be targeted to improve people's lives. Belleville (2006) found that episodic memories can be improved in older people with mild cognitive impairments. It was found that training led to improvements. Distinguishing between the different types of long term memory allows specific treatments to be developed - High external validity


Supporting case study - Clinical studies such as HM and Clive Wearing showed both had difficulty recalling events that had happened to them in their pasts, but their semantic memories were intact. This supports the view that there are different memory stores in the long term memory because one store can be damaged but the others left unaffected

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Eval. Limitations

Problems with clinical evidence - There is lack of control of variables in the clinical cases. For example, the location of the brain damage cannot be controlled. This means it is difficult to generalise the studies to determine the exact nature of the long term memory - Lacks validity

It has been suggested that there are only two types of long term memory - Cohen and Squire (1980) suggested that the episodic and semantic memories are stored together in one long term memory store - declarative memory - Lowers reliability

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