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How does memory work in the brain?
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The memory process of Retrieval

Our brain accesses the information we have stored through retrieval.

The Argument

Retrieval is the process of our brain extracting stored information from our memory for cognitive manipulation and use. Retrieval from the short term memory generally occurs in the order in which the information was learned, whereas information from the long term memory is generally retrieved through association.[1] A recall is the pure retrieval of information from memories. An example of recall would be trying to remember what time you went to bed the previous night. Recognition, on the other hand, involves a prompting stimulus to cue memory retrieval. Recognition can be exhibited in a situation like a word bank for a vocabulary test. In general, it is easier to retrieve memories through recognition than recall.[2] In the brain, retrieval exhibits itself as a reactivation of the neural networks where the memory was encoded. The pathway activated during the initial encoding of the information is revisited, which transfers the information from long term memory into current, active working memory, where it can be manipulated and utilized. Stronger pathways, correlating to memories that are more deeply encoded, can be accessed more quickly.[3]

Counter arguments

Recognition should not be considered a form of retrieval. Recognition involves a stimulus that is cognitively assessed, not the retrieval of information. While the cognitive assessment does use prior knowledge to aid it, it is not truly "remembering" something and thus is not retrieval.



[P1] Information is stored in the long term memory, but can only be utilized in the working memory. [P2] To transfer information from the long term to the working memory, the brain revisits the neural networks where the information is encoded. [P3] This is known as retrieval of a memory.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Monday, 16 Nov 2020 at 11:14 UTC

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