3 Types of Long-Term Memory - A Guide
April 25, 2017
3 Types of Long-Term Memory - A Guide.
There is a lot of discussion and debate over the different types of long-term memory. However, arguably the most important profiling of the different types man is capable of was proposed by Endel Tulving, an Estonian-Canadian experimental psychologist, in 1972.
Tulving proposed three relatively broad categories for the different types of long-term memory: procedural, semantic, and episodic
Procedural memory is a part of the long-term memory responsible for a person’s knowledge of how to do things, i.e. memory of motor skills.
It does not involve conscious (unconscious=automatic) thought and is not declarative (it’s not the recollection of specific facts or events – things we can ‘declare’ to have taken place).
One popular example is the knowledge of how to ride a bicycle.
Semantic memory is a part of the long-term memory responsible for our storing information about the world. This includes knowledge of word meanings, plus general knowledge. For example, London is the capital of England. It involves conscious thought and is declarative.
Episodic memory is a part of the long-term memory responsible for storing information about events (i.e. episodes) we have experienced in our lives. It involves conscious thought and is declarative. For example, the memory of our 1st day at school.
Cohen and Squire (1980) differentiate between declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge – “knowing how” to do things.
It included skills, such as “knowing how” to playing the piano, ride a bike; tie your shoes and other motor skills. It does not involve conscious thought (it’s automatic). For example, we brush our teeth with little awareness of the skills involved.
Whereas, declarative knowledge involves “knowing that” – London is the capital of England, zebras are animals, etc. – recalling information from declarative memory involves some conscious effort – information is deliberately brought to mind and “declared”.
The knowledge we store via semantic and episodic memories focuses on “knowing that” something is the case (i.e. declarative). For example, we might have a semantic memory for knowing that Paris is France’s capital, or have an episodic memory for knowing that we caught the bus today.