Memory, Types of

Human memory is a complex array of many different abilities, and how these are categorized tends to differ, and has changed over time. Definitions and distinctions are in part influenced by theoretical approaches as well as findings related to memory impairment associated with brain damage, diseases effecting cognitive functioning, and the use of drugs and medications.

In general we might distinguish between the following broad categories of memory:

Sensory memory. This is a type of memory in which sensory input is briefly held within the sensory apparatus.

Working memory or short term memory. These are types of memory in which information is represented for short periods of time, as part of an ongoing task.

Episodic memory. This comprises of memories of actions, events and experiences in which the individual is involved, or in other words autobiographical memories.

Semantic memory. These are memories of facts, concepts and of how things are related to each other.

Procedural memory. This form of memory refers to the ability to learn complex motor skills.

Conditioning. This is a basic form of memory involving an organism changing its behaviour as an adaptation to stimuli.

Recognition. This is the ability to recognise previously encountered stimuli, and can include the experience of feelings of familiarity.