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Adult Learner > Factors > Long-term Memory

Long-term Memory

Factor Connections

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Skills and knowledge are stored in Long-term Memory through repeated practice and use, and can be stored indefinitely. The Background Knowledge, including Vocabulary, stored in Long-term Memory provides learners with a strong foundation for retaining information, particularly when reading.

Main Ideas

When Short-term Memories are rehearsed, they become consolidated and move to Long-term Memory. There are two main types of Long-term Memory:

Explicit (Declarative) Long-term Memory stores memories, including autobiographical knowledge, that can be consciously remembered.

  • Episodic Memory is for the storage of daily personal experiences and specific events in time, such as what you had for dinner last night. Episodic memory of learning experiences can help learners recall the knowledge learned in that particular context or setting. Episodic memories formed during adolescence and early adulthood are easier to recall than those formed at other developmental stages. Accurate recall of episodic memory declines over the lifespan.
  • Semantic Memory is for memories of factual/general knowledge about the world, such as recalling the fact that Tokyo is in Japan, a component of Background Knowledge. Recall of semantic memory may not decline as steadily as episodic memory as we age.

Implicit (Nondeclarative) Long-term Memory stores the memories that do not require conscious thought.

  • Procedural Memory involves learning a sequence of actions, such as riding a bike, or the set of actions required to carry out a job-related task. These memories are automatically retrieved and used for doing these tasks. Procedural memory is relatively stable across the lifespan.
  • Emotional Memory involves a change in how stimuli are approached based on a past positive or negative experience, such as remembering a supportive teacher during a past educational experience. Though emotional memory also tends to remain stable over time, as one ages there can be a bias towards recalling positive emotional memories.

Schemas exist in Long-term Memory as an organizational system for our current knowledge and provide a framework for adding future understanding. New information that comes into our Long-term Memory may be more readily encoded in memory when it is consistent with a current schema, making learning easier when we have the appropriate Background Knowledge as context.

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