Memory is defined as the persistence of learning over time through the storage and retrieval of information. Memory is a vital tool in learning and thinking process. We use memory in our everyday lives. I think about the first time I drove a school bus; that is a form of memory. If we do not remember anything from the past, we would never learn from our experiences. Without memories, we are exposed to unfamiliar things. Memory is viewed as a three-stage process, which include sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory.
The first stage is sensory memory; it is the immediate initial recording of sensory information in the memory system. Our sensory memory is the shortest stage and it holds only for an instance. For examples, I see a picture; the image of that picture will briefly stay with me by my sensory memory. If I do not pass it on to the next stage, I will lose it forever. The two major types of sensory memory are iconic and echoic. Iconic memory occurs when a visual stimulus produces a brief memory trace. Echoic memory is the brief registration of sounds or echo in memory. Attention also influences what we will remember.
The next stage is short-term memory; it is a system for storing information over brief intervals of time. Information can be kept circulating in working memory by rehearsing it. For example, repeating a phone number while dialing it or recording it before you forget. Another part of short-term memory is chunking, used for the immediate recall of letters rather that numbers. Short-term memory lasts roughly half a minute unless it transfers to long-term memory.
The last stage is long-term memory; it is the relatively permanent and limitless storehouse of the memory system. Our long-term memories are relatively important. Long-term memory can hold something that is only a few moments old to many, many years. For example, remembering things that happen in your childhood up to now.