Types of Memory and How we Use Them

Types of Memory and How we Use Them

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Memory can be a strange, but natural ability. You might remember what you did five years ago but forget something that happened just a few minutes ago. Having a good memory is important. Developing your memory can help you to study and work more effectively and to succeed in whatever you do.

Everything you do involves some form of memory, when you turn the things you learn or experience into something that they can remember later.  People have different types of memory. Implicit memory is the kind that is so normal that it becomes automatic. For example, people normally remember how to walk no matter how long it is since they learned how, except in the case of certain brain injuries.

Sometimes musicians develop a type of implicit memory called procedural memory. They can remember where the notes are on a piano or clarinet without thinking about it and learn complicated new pieces almost automatically. Athletes also have a kind of procedural memory for their sport. Recalling this kind of memory takes very little effort since it becomes an instinct.

Explicit or declarative memories are a bit more difficult for people to remember. This type includes facts that people have to think about, such as family birthdays or when an assignment is due. Semantic memories are more about general knowledge, such as the colours of the rainbow or certain events in history. Episodic memory is about events in a person’s own life, like the first day of school or the names of childhood friends.

All of the different kinds of memory are important. Being able to recall details of an agreement, for example, can be important for business owners who might not always have the information with them. A good episodic memory can also help people remember meetings or other important details about their work.

Some people have naturally good memories, but others have to work harder. Practicing an instrument or sport can help improve people’s procedural memories. Choosing to memorize a set of facts about something interesting or important can help explicit memory. Short-term memories might last a day or a week, but long-term memories can last a lifetime.

When you learn something new in school, normally your teacher gets you to practice it over and over.  For example, you might do many multiplication questions until you know the answers without thinking. That way, you can try more complicated calculations without having to try to remember what six times seven or five times twelve is. People still sometimes forget these basics if they rarely use the information, but the memory is there.

People’s ability to remember information changes as they get older. Often, they find it easier to remember things that happened when they were children than things that happened just days earlier. While you are still young, you can help improve your memory by making rhymes or songs of facts to remember.

A good memory is an amazing ability that helps people in school, at work, and everywhere else in life. Working to develop your memory is a good idea, whatever you end up doing.


Harvard Health Publishing. “How Memory and Thinking Ability Change with Age.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/how-memory-and-thinking-ability-change-with-age.

The Human Memory. “What is Memory?” https://human-memory.net/what-is-memory/.

Taibbi, Christopher. “How to Improve Your Memory, Instantly.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/gifted-ed-guru/201402/how-improve-your-memory-instantly.

Zimmerman, Kim Anne. “Memory Definition and Types of Memory.” https://www.livescience.com/43713-memory.html.

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