What are the three phases of the memory process?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The three phases of the memory process are

  • sensory memory
  • short term memory
  • long term memory

To gain and preserve a memory is quite similar to the process of digestion. It all begins with the senses. The way in which the visual affects the senses has a lot to do with whether the visual will be recorded in memory or not. For example, triggers such as scent, taste, colors, and sounds are the first filters that trigger memory in humans. This is known as sensory memory.

When something affects the senses profoundly, the chances of the moment to become stored in short term memory are higher.

Working memory, or short term memory, occurs when the sensory information is categorized, organized, and internalized for a period of time. It is called "short" because the lapse of time a memory lasts in short term is around 15-30 seconds the most. To enforce the memory, once must rehearse it or repeat it over and over until it becomes habitual.

Long term memory occurs when the sensory memory has already entered the short term memory, but with enough intervention, the building of schema, and the making of correlations and connections the memory is maintained for a long period of time.