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Memory and memories have been defined or classified in different ways. Established is that there are two main types of memory, namely 'procedural memory' with information about how to proceed when doing something, and 'declarative memory' which contains what we know.
Both procedural and declarative memories are long-term memories and we also have a working (short-term) memory which enables the brain to evaluate the mass of incoming information and select what is to be retained and memorised and what is to be rejected.
Distinctions have been drawn also between different kinds of memory and memories, such as semantic (verbal), episodic (events as part of a sequence), eidetic (detailed mental images) and visual (images as seen). In addition to what we see, we also remember other sensory information such as sounds, smells, tastes and what we touch.
This memory stores information about how to proceed when doing something, stores information such as how to drive a car, play football or play an instrument.
This type of memory is long-lasting. The memories are actions, habits or skills which are learned by repetition and which can be changed by many repetitions, by training.
This is long-term memory and it contains all you have experienced or learned, all the information gained by you from childhood onwards.
No one really knows where this enormous database is located but it seems that each type of component memory is located in a kind of memory location of its own.
Associating Memories and their Components
Suppose we remember a person saying something. The component parts of this memory, components such as shape of face, sound of voice, colour of hair, are stored in different locations. They are associated with each other, cross-indexed if you like, so that a memory can be recalled from remembering just one of its components. Component memories are continually being associated with other old or new component memories, enormously increasing the range and flexibility of what can be recalled.
And so we may be able to recall a person's name by remembering the colour of his hair, or the shape of his face.
The working memory enables the brain to evaluate the mass of incoming information and select what is to be retained and memorised and what is to be rejected.
In addition we have the vast mass of externally prepared and stored information which is accumulating. It has accumulated ever since people told stories to their young who in turn retold them to later generations and ever since writing was invented and the printed word accumulated, followed by pictures, photographs, films and videos, television and computerised manipulation of text and images. All of which spread and proliferated together with corresponding search (recall, retrieval, associating and selecting) procedures.
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