Long-term Memory (LTM)


Long-term memory: "A system for permanently storing, managing, and retrieving information for later use. Items of information stored as long-term memory may be available for a lifetime" (MedicineNet Dictionary, 2009 [2]).

Long-term memory - "your general store of remembered information" The Free Dictionary, 2009 [3]).

Theoretical frame

Unlike short-term memory (STM) the long-term memory stores information for later use to solve problems. LTM is divided into three parts: Episodic memory, Semantic memory and Procedural memory. However, these parts are not physically separated, but they work together and are dependent on each other (Vockell, 2005 [4]).

Episodic memory

This part of LTM helps a person to recall personal experiences from the past. For example, if someone recalls the food he/she ate for breakfast or something happed during childhood, he/she is using episodic memory. As the name implies, this part of the memory compiles information around episodes in our life. While recalling one is actually picturing the events in his/her mind and reconstructing the episodes. Not only events, episodic memory also helps in recounting the information related to these events.

Semantic memory

This part of LTM stores both specific data, such as facts and truth, and comprehensive information. Rules, problem-solving skills, principles, and concepts are stored here. The information is stored as networks or schemata. Thus, meaningful information, which can create networks, is easy to be stored in this memory. Moreover, information is stored in such a way to allow both existing information and future information get linked together. Retrieval from semantic memory follows mental paths.

Procedural memory

This part of LTM helps to perform a job or to apply a specific strategy. While information is retrieved from the procedural memory, step by step retrieval occurs. For example, when a mathematician solves a problem he would retrieve data in such a way that the one step will help him to retrieve the next data and it will help him to retrieve next data and so on.

Storing and Retrieving

Unlike STM, transferring information into LTM is not easy. The process by which information is transferred from STM into LTM is called encoding or elaboration. Meaningfulness, which can be referred to as the degree to which information in the STM is related to information in the LTM, also facilitates the encoding process. Thus, encoding links the information in the STM to the information already in LTM. The more relations exist between two pieces of information, the easier the transfer is and so does the retrieval.

The following factors help in recalling information from LTM into STM

  • Use information repeatedly or frequently
  • Assess the differences between the current and past information
  • Use mnemonic phrases
  • Store information as actively as possible

Supporting evidence

Storing inforation in LTM

A study carried out by Brandy, Konkle, Alvarez and Oliva (2008 [1]) suggests that LTM can store a massive number of information with details from the image. Participants were allowed to view 2,500 objects in 5.5 hours. After that they were shown pairs of images, one of them being out of the 2,500 images and one from a novel category, an object of same category or same object in a different state. Participants recall the objects they saw with 92 per cent, 88 per cent, and 87 per cent respectively. Therefore participants stored thousands of images with detailed representations.

Retrieving information from LTM

Williams, Davids, Burwitz and Williams (1993 [5]) suggests that experience helps in recalling LTM. A study was caried out to see if experienced soccer players have greater task-specific cognitive knowledge than inexperienced players. 12 experienced and 12 novice players were allowed to view a sequence video. Novice players recall more errors. Thus authors suggest that experienced players was able to make more sense of the players posistions. Therefore, experience in a specific field helps to recall LTM related to that field.

Refuting evidence

Way forward (to do list)

1. Brandy, Konkle, Alvarez and Oliva (2008). Visual long-term memory has a massive storage capacity for object details. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 105, 38, 14325-14329.
2. MedicineNet Dictionary (2009). Long-term memory. Retrieved from http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=15299 on 22 January, 2009.
3. The Free Dictionary (2009). Long-term memory. Retrieved from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/long-term+memory, on 22 January, 2009.
4. Vockell, E. (2005). Educational psychology: A practical approach. Retrieved from http://education.calumet.purdue.edu/vockell/EdpsyBook/Edpsy6/edpsy6_long.htm on 22 January, 2009.
5. Williams, M., Davids, K., Burwitz, L. & Williams, J. (1993). Congnitive knowledge and soccer performace. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 76, 2, 579-593.

Knowledge Management Space


Wiki of Science Team (contributors to this page)

Authors / Editors



Peer-revisions & comments

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License