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Measures of Memory

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Measures of Memory

Brain with Measuring Cups
Measures of memory can be described as distinguishing how information is stored in memory, and how it is accessed. Some measures of memory involve memory tasks given to a person, such as explicit memories where they are asked to recall information, which was displayed to them in a previous experience. With implicit memory tasks, emotional, cognitive and motor memory can be tested for without prompting the person to directly access previous experiences.
Explicit Memories
Guy Using Explicit Language

An explicit measure of memory involves situations in which the memory task involves a direct reference to a particular past event.

Conscious Recollection
Awake Guy

With the explicit measure of memory, the person is trying to remember consciously. They try to access information referred to in the memory task, such as a fill in the blank or multiple-choice question.

Re-call Phone

Recall is generating the appropriate information in response to the memory request made. Examples of recall include fill-in-the-blank questions, essay questions, or describing the details of a show you watched the night before. This is the least sensitive measure of memory, because the person may fail even if they have relevant information stored in memory.

Previous Experiences

The explicit measure of memory is a direct reference to past experiences of the person.

Implicit Memories
Implicit Imprint

An implicit measure of memory is demonstrated when no direct mentioning of the experiences leads to a particular memory.

Unconscious and Unintentional
Unconscious Guy

This measure of memory is unconscious and unintentional. Memories may be triggered by unconscious stimuli, which may be unintentional, and there are no explicit memory tasks triggering recall.


These memories may be recalled from emotional stimuli.

Cognitive Learning

Cognitive learning is a part of the implicit measure of memory. Those who are given memory tasks without mentioning a past experience may be able to complete a task or test based off of previous skills attained.

Motor Skills

An example of an implicit memory involving motor skills is riding a bike. Those tested are never asked to describe their previous experiences on learning how to ride a bike, but rather it is in an innate skill brought out by simply sitting on a bike.


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