Implicit Memory Definition
Implicit memory is one of two types of long-term memory in humans. It is also known as unconscious memory, automatic memory, or non-declarative memory. The other is declarative memory, sometimes known as explicit memory.
Implicit memory is associated with unconscious memories, such as the capacity to conduct activities instinctively, create connections, and react to stimuli, while explicit memory is associated with conscious recollections of particular facts, events, and personal experiences.
The ability to ride a bike, for example, is an example of implicit memory since it is an unconscious skill once learnt.
Overview of Memory
In the brain, there are multiple separate memory systems. Memory may be characterised in many ways in psychology, including the stage of the memory, the kind of memory, and the process of memory formation.
Focusing on what stage the memory is at, i.e., how long the memory is accessible to the person, is one approach to understanding memory. Sensory memory is the temporary storage of data generated by a stimulus. The majority of these memories are lost, but if the information is deemed significant, it is stored in our working memory, which is part of our short-term memory.
Some of the information in our working memory is transferred to large-capacity long-term memory storage. These are the memories that last for months, or perhaps years.
A basic categorization of memory into two categories exists within long-term memory. These are memories that are both implicit and explicit.
Implicit vs. Explicit Memory
Explicit memories may be actively remembered, while implicit memories are simply “known” without any conscious thought.
Being able to remember a particularly difficult music lesson is one example of explicit memory. You may recall the titles of the works that were performed as well as the students that were there. However, you have an implicit recall of the improvements you made to your violin playing by attending that lesson.
Both implicit and explicit memory have been shown to use various neuroanatomies and neural circuits (i.e., different parts of the brain). Their biological distinctions are highlighted by these discoveries.
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Types and Examples of Implicit Memory
There are various distinct forms of implicit memory. Procedural memory, priming, and classical conditioning are the three categories here. Each is assumed to engage various brain areas.
Procedural memory is an example of implicit memory, and it explains why you don’t have to think about completing some motor actions; you just execute them. Riding a bike, typing, tying your shoes, or playing a video game are just a few examples.
You are employing procedural memory if doing a job is’ second nature ‘to you and does not need you to consciously think about how to execute it. This is sometimes referred to as “muscle memory.”
The activities are often complicated, yet the person can do them without thinking. They can also have trouble explaining what they’re doing. Procedural memory is extremely strong in highly competent musicians. Even if the song is unfamiliar to them, they can execute difficult pieces of music swiftly and precisely.
Priming is a psychological phenomenon in which a previous experience influences our reaction to a current situation. The shift is frequently reflected in the reaction’s accuracy or processing time. Identifying, categorising, and finding an object are among the actions mentioned in the replies.
Due to the link between the phrases “cat” and “mouse,” if someone is exposed to the word “mouse,” their subsequent reaction to the word “cat” will be faster than the word “balloon.”
Even if the two stimuli are connected verbally, visually, or perceptually, priming will still occur.
There are several forms of priming, each with its own response effects. Intact priming has been shown to be intact in people with memory problems, suggesting that the processes involved in priming are separate from those involved in conscious or declarative memory.
When two unrelated stimuli (one neutral and one biological) are coupled in order to generate a new response to the neutral stimulus, this is known as classical conditioning. It’s a sort of association learning.
Pavlov’s dog is the greatest illustration of this; classical conditioning is also known as Pavlovian conditioning.
Ivan Pavlov discovered that in the presence of the technician who regularly fed the dogs, the dogs would begin to drool, even though the technician had no food to feed the dogs. He investigated this theory by conducting an experiment in which he rang a bell every time he fed the dogs.
The dogs eventually learned to identify the sound of the bell with food, and the sound of the bell alone was enough to make them drool. Associative learning is a sort of classical conditioning in which the response is related to a known stimulus.
Associative vs. Non-associative
Implicit memory may also be classified as associative or non-associative. When behaviour changes in the absence of any identifiable stimulus, this is known as non-associative learning. This differs from associative learning, such as classical conditioning, in which we automatically learn that two stimuli are linked and behave appropriately. Habituation and sensitization are the two most well-known kinds of non-associative learning.
Habituation occurs when a person’s responsiveness to a stimulus decreases following repeated exposure to that stimulus. Consider moving to a new home where there is a lot of loud traffic. At first, you may find it difficult to sleep over the noises, and you may find it bothersome. You eventually cease hearing the noises. This has clinical significance since it has the ability to help people with phobias and other mental health issues.
The opposite of habituation is sensitization. Increased exposure to a stimulus enhances the reaction in sensitization. This often happens after traumatic incidents, in survivors of abuse, or in those who suffer from PTSD or anxiety disorders. Loud noises, for example, may make people nervous or afraid.
The illusion-of-truth effect, also known as the illusory truth effect, is a phenomenon in which the more we hear something, the more we perceive it to be true. People are more likely to believe the veracity of material they are acquainted with. This phenomenon has the potential to create misleading recollections.
Unconscious bias is a sort of illusory truth, and it reflects implicit memory. Hindsight bias is also connected to this. Consider the saying, “hindsight is 20/20.” When new knowledge becomes available, the proper response always becomes evident.
In the domains of politics and marketing, fictitious truth has real-world applications.
- Radvansky, G. A. (2017). Human Memory Third Edition. London: Taylor and Francis.
- Roediger, H. L. (1990). Implicit memory: Retention without remembering. American Psychologist, 45(9), 1043–1056. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.45.9.1043
- Squire, L. R., & Zola, S. M. (1996). Structure and function of declarative and nondeclarative memory systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 93(24), 13515–13522. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.93.24.13515
- Squire, L. R., & Dede, A. J. (2015). Conscious and unconscious memory systems. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 7(3), a021667. https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a021667