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The images of the external world that appear in the cerebral cortex do not disappear without a trace. They leave a trail that can be stored for a long time. Memorization, preservation, and subsequent reproduction of the experience constitute the essence of the process of memory. Due to the memory, human cognitive capabilities expand. The main purpose of memory is updating past experience to develop solutions to emerging problems. Memory performs connections between the past state of mind, present and future actions, and mental processes of human. It provides connectivity, stability of the life experience, and the continuity of consciousness and self-consciousness. Memory allows the accumulation of impressions about the world, serves as the basis of acquiring knowledge, skills, and abilities. Taking into account its importance in the development of human knowledge, it can be said that the memory is the basis of all consciousness. The memory is a reflection of reality, which manifests itself in the preservation and reproduction of past experience.
Definition of Memory
The creation of adequate image of the world is a complex multi-level process that involves cognitive processes of varying complexity. Each of these processes gives its specific qualities to the image. The processes of perception and feelings give an idea of the world as a space filled with individual objects. The sensations provide qualitative features, such as color, taste, smell, weight, and others. Summarizing perceived information, thinking unfolds the panorama of the living space by extending it far beyond the visible and experienced things at the moment. It allows seeing the hidden properties of objects, understand the essence of observable events and predict them.
None of this will be possible if the creatures do not have the ability to preserve intentions, perceived impressions, the results of their processing, as well as programs of action. The memory is the process that enables the construction of a comprehensive image of the world, which links disparate experiences into a coherent picture. Without memory processes, there will be no objective sensory or abstract mental image of the world. The memory is the foundation that connects all the building elements into a single mosaic, entire life picture.
The memory is a process of organization and preservation of past experience, making it possible to reuse or return to activity in the sphere of consciousness. Memory links the past with the subject of the present and future, and is a critical cognitive function that underlies the development and learning. There are particular levels of information holding means: physical, biological, physiological, and psychological. On the physical level, information is retained through structural reforms that are implemented with physical bodies. This is an external memory (nodules, notebook, etc.) At the biological level, the transformation of biological structures such as DNA, RNA, and others occur. At the physiological level, information is stored and converted on the basis of dynamic physiological processes that are different from their functional biological nature. On a psychological level, a qualitative transformation of the information, its organization and storage, which are based on the transformation of semantic structures, occur.
Processes and Types of Memory
The memory processes include storing, storage, playback, and forgetting. Memorization process is an active process, in which the starting material produces some action. Memorization process begins in the short-term memory and ends in the long-term memory. Storage means the presence of information in the long-term memory; and it is not always connected with its accessibility to consciousness. Forgetting is a heterogeneous process. It can have various forms. The reproduction of the stored information consists in transferring it from the long-term memory in the short-term memory, in other words, in its actualization in consciousness. The reproduction depends on the processes of remembering and forgetting but has its own characteristics and mechanisms. The playback can act in three forms: recognition, recall, and recollection.
Memory comprises the following categories: sensory, short-term and long-term memory. This classification is based on the amount of memory’s time (Zhang, 2004). There are four common forms of memory: emotional, imaginative, verbal-logical, and motor. Human emotions are closely related to their needs or motives, because they reflect the relationship between the needs and characteristics of the situation, promote or hinder their satisfaction. Emotions act as signals about the extent, to which human’s needs can be satisfied. Since the emotion is a signal, it can be stored in a form that is close to the one that accompanied the experienced events. Imaginative memory retains lived experience in the form of images. LaBar and Cabeza (2006) emphasized that emotional memories constituted the core of humans’ history (54). Imaginative memory is the essence of representation. There are not only impressions that are available to consciousness and received through the senses, but also the unconscious images, such as standards or patterns involved in the processes of perception. The mental images of the world in the form of broad categories, judgment, and abstract conceptual schemes are stored in the verbal-logical memory. The schemes of various movements and their systems, forming motor skills that provide automated repetitive nature of the action or typical situations, are stored in the motor memory. All the species or components of memory are closely related to each other, because they are components of a single, coherent behavioral act.
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The memory has a great importance in people's lives. It is difficult to overestimate its role. The memory is the basis of all human life, its development, and the preservation of the abilities. It is a prerequisite for learning, the acquisition of knowledge and skills. Due to the memory, especially its continuous improvement, human has separated from the animal world and reached the peak of psychological development. In general, the memory can be defined as the ability to obtain, maintain, and reproduce useful life experience. Without the constant renewal of this experience, systematic accumulation and reproduction, a man could not adapt to the current and rapidly changing conditions of life.
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