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Explicit and Implicit Memory

Explicit and Implicit Memory

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This lesson will distinguish explicit memory from implicit memory and examine the role priming plays in the process of memory.

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Tutorial

What's Covered

This lesson will cover two different kinds of long-term memory by looking at:

  1. Explicit Memory
  2. Implicit Memory

1. Explicit Memory

There are two different types of long-term memory:

  • Explicit memory, or declarative memory-any kind of long-term memory that's factual information.
  • Implicit memory, or procedural memory-any kind of long-term memory of actions, skills, or how to do certain kinds of things.

Terms to Know

  • Explicit Memory
  • Long-term memory of factual information, like words, numbers, and symbols; a.k.a. declarative memory.
  • Implicit Memory
  • Long-term memory of actions and skills, or how to do certain things; a.k.a. procedural memory.
Explicit memory, or declarative memory, includes information like words, or numbers, or symbols; these are things a person is usually conscious of. When they are thinking of these memories, people are able to verbalize them.

These memories use recall or recognition to test whether the memory has been effectively remembered or learned:

  • Recall is any kind of retrieval of information where a person directly reproduces that information.
  • Recognition is when we recognize the information being presented to us from our memory.

2. Implicit Memory

Implicit, or procedural, memory refer to unconscious memories, where a person can't necessarily verbalize them. These include things such as how to ride a bike or how to tie a shoe.

Think About It

How do we know what is inside our implicit memory if it is unconscious, and we're notable to verbalize it? If we can test explicit memory, how do we test implicit memories?

Psychologists have found that a person can show what is stored in their implicit memories, through the use of a technique called priming. Priming means giving some kinds of limited clues, which activate unconscious memories, and bring them up to the forefront, so we can see what they are.

ExampleIf you're shown a list of words that would also include the word "chair." So things like table, pen, desk and chair, and, later on, you're asked to provide a word that starts with the letters, "ch," then you're very likely to say the word chair, because it's been primed in your mind as a word to remember

Term to Know

  • Priming
  • Giving limited clues to activate unconscious memories and test implicit memory.

This process seems like it's relatively simple, but psychologists have found that this can have very strong real-world applications. Experiments conducted by psychologist John Bargh found that stereotype priming can have large effects on our behavior, without us even realizing it.

In one experiment, Bargh took people and gave them a test, where they were unconsciously exposed to words that had to do with the elderly. After the people we're done with the test they were then asked to deliver the test to a room at the very end of a hallway.

The people that were exposed to those elderly words were found to move much more slowly as they walked down that hallway. Elderly words primed in them, and as a result, they acted in a more elderly way.

Bargh and other psychologists have found that this applies to other things, as well. Personality characteristics, like rudeness, can be primed in someone and make them more rude. They found that this sort of stereotyping can also apply to our unconscious feelings of people of different races as well.


Summary

Explicit memory, or declarative memory, is the long-term memory of factual information like words, number, and symbols. This memory is conscious, and is tested by recall or recognition. Implicit memory, or procedural memory, is the long-term memory of actions and skills. It unconscious and is tested by priming.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: This work is adapted from Sophia author Erick Taggart.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Priming

    Giving limited clues to activate unconscious memories and test implicit memory.

  • Implicit Memory

    Long-term memory of actions and skills, or how to do certain things; a.k.a. procedural memory.

  • Explicit Memory

    Long-term memory of factual information, like words, numbers, and symbols; a.k.a. declarative memory.