Memory is defined as the faculty by
which sense impressions and information are
retained in the mind and subsequently recalled. A
person’s capacity to remember and the total store
of mentally retained impressions and knowledge
also formulate memory. (Webster, 1992) “We all
possess inside our heads a system for
declassifying, storing and retrieving information
that exceeds the best computer capacity,
flexibility, and speed. Yet the same system is so
limited and unreliable that it cannot consistently
remember a nine-digit phone number long enough
to dial it” (Baddeley, 1993). The examination of
human behavior reveals that current activities are
inescapably linked by memories. General
“competent” (1993) behavior requires that certain
past events have effect on the influences in the
present. For example, touching a hot stove would
cause a burn and therefore memory would convey
a message to not repeat again. All of this is
effected by the development of short-term
memory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM).
Memories can be positive, like memories of
girlfriends and special events, or they can be
negative, such as suppressed memories. Sexual
abuse of children and Memory 3 adolescents is
known to cause severe psychological and
emotional damage. Adults who were sexually
abused in childhood are at a higher risk for
developing a variety of psychiatric disorders,
anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and mood
disorders. To understand the essential issues about
traumatic memory, the human mind’s response to
a traumatic event must first be understood. The
memory is made up of many different sections with
each having different consequences on one
another. Can people remember what they were
wearing three days ago? Most likely no, because
the memory only holds on to what is actively
remembered. What a person was wearing is not
important so it is thrown out and forgotten. This
type of unimportant information passes through the
short-term memory. “Short-term memory is a
system for storing information over brief intervals
of time.” (Squire, 1987) It’s main characteristic is
the holding and understanding of limited amounts
of information. The system can grasp brief ideas
which would otherwise slip into oblivion, hold
them, relate them and understand them for its own
purpose. (1987) Another aspect of STM was
introduced by William James in 1890, under the
name “primary memory” (Baddeley, 1993).
Primary memory refers to the information that
forms the focus of current attention and that
occupies the stream of thought. “This information
does not need to be brought back to mind in order
to be used” (1993). Compared to short-term
memory, primary memory Memory 4 places less
emphasis on time and more emphasis on the parts
of attention, processing, and holding. No matter
what it is called, this system is used when someone
hears a telephone number and remembers it long
enough to write it down. (Squire, 1987) Luckily, a
telephone number only consists of seven digits or
else no one would be able to remember them.
Most people can remember six or seven digits
while others only four or five and some up to nine
or ten. This is measured by a technique called the
digit span, developed by a London school teacher,
J. Jacobs, in 1887. Jacobs took subjects (people),
presented them with a sequence of digits and
required them to repeat the numbers back in the
same order. The length of the sequence is steadily
increased until a point is reached at which the
subject always fails. The part at which a person is
right half the time is defined as their digit span. A
way to improve a digit span is through rhythm
which helps to reduce the tendency to recall the
numbers in the wrong order. Also, to make sure a
telephone number is copied correctly, numbers
can be grouped in twos and threes instead of given
all at once. (Baddeley, 1993) Another part of
short-term memory is called chunking, used for the
immediate recall of letters rather than numbers.
When told to remember and repeat the letters q s
v l e r c i i u k, only a person with an excellent
immediate memory would be able to do so. But, if
the same letters were given this way, q u i c k s i l
v e r, the results would be Memory 5 different.
What is the difference between the two
sequences? The first were 11 unrelated letters,
and the second were chunked into two words
which makes this task easier. (1993) “Short-term
memory recall is slightly better for random
numbers than for random letters, which sometimes
have similar sounds. It is better for information
heard rather than seen. Still, the basic principals
hold true: At any given moment, we can process
only a very limited amount of information."
(Myers, 1995) The next part in the memory
process involves the encoding and merging of
information from short-term into long-term
memory. Long-term memory is understood as
having three separate stages: transfer,