United States

est. 2018
she/her | poeian/pathian
obsessed classics enthusiast & linguist.
humanism + romanticism = writing inspiration

Message to Readers

Nonfiction! (Which I don't typically write)

Quick School Course: The Science & Psychology of Human Memory

August 4, 2020


Many experts have studied psychology and human memory, numerous have agreed that there are 3 stages of memory: Encoding, Storage, Retrieval.

1. Encoding
Encoding is the first step in the brain's ability to process memory. When an event takes place or information is obtained, the brain instinctively memorizes this through the body's perception of its senses. The 3 main ways the memory is collected is through visual, acoustic, and semantic methods (simplypsychology). Subconsciously, as the body's senses collect the information in order to create the memory, your brain also attempts to associate them with emotion, since emotion can increase one's attention ( This also means it is impossible to have memories with the complete absence of emotions. Your body naturally associates its memories with emotions. In addition, stronger emotional connections with the memory, the stronger the memory will hold inside your brain.

2. Storage
Next comes memory storage, which focuses on where the memory is stored and how long it lasts. The importance of storing an emotion is because it directly affects how the memory is retrieved. There are two main types of, being short term memory and long term memory. It is believed the brain has an unlimited amount of "spaces" for long term memory but limited for short term (simplypsychology). However, long term memories often originate from short term memories, through consolidation. Scientifically speaking, best stated by, "Long term memories are stored throughout the brain as groups of neurons that are primed to fire together in the same pattern that created the original experience, and each component of memory is stored in the brain area that initiated it. Indeed, it seems that they may even be encoded redundantly, several times, in various parts of the cortex, so that, if one engram (or memory trace) is wiped out, there are duplicates, or alternative pathways, elsewhere, through which the memory may still be retrieved." In a dumber version: The analogy of memories being stored as "books" in the "library of our mind" is exceedingly incorrect. Moreover, it's that our memories are statues that must be constantly "resculpted" or "reconstructed" through our senses, emotions, and elements of the brain.

3. Retrieving
Finally, is memory retrieval, which is recollecting, reassessing, or recalling one of the encoded memories that you've stored. Or in simplistic terms, "remembering". During memory retrieval, the brain repeats the neuron's pattern of activity that was first generated in response to the encoding of the memory ( However, it can occur as well as be classified in numerous ways. Unfortunately, I will only touch upon a few.

First, the classifications. One major one is interference with memory retrieval, either proactive or retroactive. This occurs because of the interference of recollection of the memory, due to the questioning information ( Proactive inference occurs when past memories affect the ability to obtain new memories (like learning your new address only to think of your old one) versus retroactive inference happens when you recall a memory, only to have new information presented, making you question the nature of your memory ( Another is free recall, where memory can be remembered but in any order and out of order. Therefore, if someone remembers the ending of the memory better, they can tell the memory backward. Lastly is retrieval failure, where a person cannot retrieve a memory successfully ( Many know this as, "scratching the surface" or "on the tip of my tongue". Often times this can result from neutron decay, a process where the neutron connections and activity declines (or, as to reference an earlier analogy, the lack of resculpting the memory sculpture).

Now, when a memory is retrieved. Typically, memories are retrieved during recognition, when the brain records, encounters, or witnesses an experience, object, or event that has information relating or comparing to a memory ( When memories are retrieved during this time, it is normally subconsciously. The second time a memory is retrieved is through recalling, where the brain consciously attempts to remember information that requires digging through and uncovering information in the memory, in the lack of clues and information being physically present (

Final Thoughts & Notes:
Memory is fickle. It is considered to be reliable in certain aspects and completely preposterous in others. However, it is important to know that ALL human memory is highly susceptible. For example, "cross-racing bais" is "a reduction in accuracy when identifying faces of a race or ethnic background different from one's own" ( Dishearteningly, this occurs a lot. Furthermore, when resculpting and reconstructing our memories, our brain subconsciously adds filters to the memory created from past knowledge, experiences, and events ( Therefore, even if an event if remembered one way, as a person's life goes on and the memory is resculpted, the shape can change. Best said by Oliver Sacks, "Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree of imagination." In conclusion, it's important to know that human memory isn't perfect, nor is it 100% reliable. So be careful how you share your memories.
First real try with a nonfiction piece, so hopefully, it's not as bad or boring as I think it is.
Word Count: 923
Sources: I tend to try and use sources whose internet domains aren't .com, since those are typically considered "commercial sources". I try to shoot for .edu (unless it's a limited, uniformed, single student), .org, and .gov. As for .net, it's if-y.

There's actually a few other pieces of information to deepen this that would be cool, especially more about how the human memory is flawed. Anyway, if you'd like to learn/read more go for it. Or perhaps, I make a part 2?


See History
  • August 4, 2020 - 3:31pm (Now Viewing)

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  • Wisp

    Ahhh shoot. I remember reading this after the whole new guidelines were enacted and chaos was amidst us. And I was reading this and I was like in awe at how someone could be composed and so brilliant enough to write a nonfiction piece. Actually this piece had me inspired to write a nonfiction piece (that is still in my portfolio and unfinished because I'm just not motivated, so kudos for you for being able to stick through with it) because it was so well written and I was astounded by it. Also, to reiterate what Paisley Blue said below, I'm surprised you haven't written more nonfiction (unless you count Writers of the World) because this flowed so well and it was extremely poignant. Would definitely read a Part 2 if you make one.
    Replying: Haha, my mom said the same thing. I usually don't let her read my stuff for a lot of reasons, but for some reason I let her today. And she told me it was a little confusing (To say frankly, I am NOT disappointed or dejected by your comment, it actually put a smile on my face, so I hope you didn't interpret this that way). Also, seeing you pop up in my notifications was just so heartwarming. It's been a bad night right now, and just seeing you and your support instantly boosted up my morale. So thank you :) You have no idea how much of an impact you have on me.

    4 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    Replying: thanks for all the pfp ideas! I really like your suggestions and i'm going to go look through them now :) no need to delete the comment, I don't mind! Thank you so much for your kind words! It really does mean a lot to me <3
    (If you want me to delete this lmk I tried to post it on an older piece but i get it if you don't want it here!)
    Happy writing!

    6 months ago
  • Paisley Blue

    part two would be great! You've never written non-fiction? Well, you're really good! Nice job!

    7 months ago
  • inanutshell

    love this! well-researched & accurate :) pls make a part 2 on this, would love to read it! maybe if you're focusing on flaws, you could make it about false memories or working memory? would love to see your non-fiction take on it :D

    8 months ago
  • sherry171

    Incredible! This was such a well-written and researched informative piece, and it really spoke to my interests (as a proud psych nerd haha). I love that you're trying to help more people understand the complexities of human memory!

    8 months ago
  • EdilMayHampsen

    Very interesting piece! I learned a lot, my favorite fact is that all memories have an emotional connotation. Who knew? Well, you did. Either way, I'm excited to see a rare non-fiction piece up on write the world! I don't have enough critique for a review, but I encourage your to glance back over your grammar and spelling, as it it a little confusing at times. Overall, I enjoyed this!

    8 months ago
  • chrysanthemums&ink

    this was an interesting and informative read! simply love all the sources you put in too (and not going for sources that are .com is totally understandable. i do remember encouragement against that) :) i really didn't know much about memory before reading it, but i did have a ton of unanswered questions that were nicely answered in this essay! <3 i really enjoyed reading this, so if you're going to write a part two, i'd be up for it!

    8 months ago
  • birthdaycandles

    Woah, pyschology is so interesting, i’m kind of sad i didn’t choose to study it looking back, but it just shows you all this information is available online if you ever wanna know, you know? I can’t believe you apparently have limited shot term memory and unlimited long term memories, but that long term memories are made from short term memories... I think I got that right... lol the brain is so complex it baffles me! This was an informative and interesting read, definitely learned something new :)

    8 months ago