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Harvard Commentaries
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Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School


Types of Memory


February 10, 2010

Memory Loss
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Learn The Basics
Types of Memory
Types of Memory
htmTypesMemory
Memory is broken down into two types: short term and long term.
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InteliHealth
2010-02-10
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InteliHealth/Harvard Medical Content
2012-08-24

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Types of Memory
Memory is broken down into two types: short term and long term.
 
Short-term memory, also known as working memory, stores information that you need to remember in the following seconds, minutes or hours. An example would be a telephone message that you are given and must remember until you pass it on.
 
Long-term memory stores information that your brain retains because it is important to you. Basic information remembered includes names of family and friends, your address, as well as information on how to do certain activities and tasks. Long-term memory can be further divided into explicit, implicit and semantic memory.
  • Explicit memories are facts that you made a conscious effort to learn and that you can remember at will, for example, the names of state capitals.
  • Implicit memory is information you draw on automatically in order to perform actions such as driving a car or riding a bicycle.
  • Semantic memories are facts that are so deeply ingrained they require no effort to recall. An example would be the months of the year.
There are large age-related differences with explicit memory, but age has little or no effect on implicit or semantic memory.
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