Class 11 Psychology Chapter 7 Human Memory

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Class 11 Psychology Chapter 7 Human Memory

Human memory is one of the most intriguing and interesting aspects of the human mind for psychologists and they have always attempted to bring out new ways and techniques through which our memory can be enhanced. Human memory plays a central role in problem-solving, attention, decision-making, perception etc. Having a sharp memory has perks of its own as it always helps students ace their exams, employees adhere to their deadlines, etc. Let’s explore what constitutes human memory and how people sharpen their memory to such an extent that they are able to establish world records in CBSE Class 11 Psychology Chapter 7 Human Memory.

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The Concept of Human Memory

The first topic of CBSE Class 11 Psychology chapter 7 human memory is learning about the basic concept. Human memory can be clearly defined as a process comprising of three independent yet interrelated stages which are explained as follows:

  1. Encoding – It is the first stage of human memory in which information is recorded and registered for the first time so that it becomes usable by our memory system and substantial meaning is derived from the incoming information
  2. Storage -It is the second stage of human memory in which the encoded information is retained and held over a period of time so that it can be utilized later
  3. Retrieval – It is the third stage of memory in which the stored information can be recovered from our memory as and when the situation demands
Credits: Examrace

Information Processing Approach (Stage Model)

Atkinson and Shiffrin’s model of memory is also known as the stage model of memory. This proposes the existence of three separate but sequentially linked memory systems:

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  1. Sensory memory- It Contains a fleeting impression of a sensory stimulus(sight, sound).it has a large capacity. It is of a very short duration that is less than a second
  2. Short-term memory – A limited recollection of recently perceived stimulus(telephone number, order of food). It holds a small amount of information for a brief period of time which is less than 30 seconds
  3. Long-term memory- It is defined as a permanent store of memories for later retrieval. here, information is encoded semantically and the storage capacity is unlimited

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Maintenance Rehearsal vs Elaborative Rehearsal 

Types of Long-Term Memory

  1. Declarative Memory-  All information pertaining to facts, names, dates like a car has four wheels,14th February is Valentine’s day is part of the declarative memory. Facts retained in the declarative memory are amenable to verbal descriptions
  2. Procedural Memory – It refers to the memories relating to procedures of accomplishing various tasks like how to drive a car, bake cakes, etc. Contents of procedural memory cannot be described easily as they are more practical and application-based

Declarative Memory

Declarative memory is further classified into two categories Episodic and semantic memory. Let’ ‘s explore in-depth:

Episodic Memory

It comprises biographical details of our life. Its memories relate to our personal life experiences and its contents are emotional in nature. Example- First marriage anniversary celebration,  birthday party with friends.

Semantic Memory

Semantic memory is defined as the memory of general awareness and knowledge. All concepts, ideas, and rules of logic are stored in semantic memory. Example- 7*8 is 56, STD code of New Delhi is 011, etc.

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Knowledge Representation and Organisation in Memory

  • The most important unit of representation of knowledge in long-term memory is a concept. Concepts are mental categories for objects and events, which are similar to each other in one or more way
  • We actively organize concepts in schemas, which are mental frameworks that represent our knowledge and assumptions about the world.
  • For example, think of a schema of the kitchen. It will have different things like crockery, gas stove, etc
  • In 1969, Allan Collins and Ross Quillan suggested that knowledge in long-term memory is organized in terms of concepts, categories, and images, and they are organized hierarchically
  • As per this view, we can store all knowledge at a certain level that applies to all the members of a category without having to repeat that information at the lower levels in the hierarchy. This as a result ensures a high degree of cognitive economy which means maximum and efficient use of the capacity of long-term memory with minimum effort
  • Images- it is a concrete form of representation that directly conveys the perceptual attributes of an object
  • Almost all concrete objects generate images and knowledge related to them is encoded both verbally as well as visually which is termed as Dual Coding Hypothesis originally proposed by Paivio

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Nature and Causes of Forgetting

Moving on to the next topic in CBSE Class 11 Psychology chapter 7 human memory is nature and causes of forgetting. Forgetting occurs when information is not retrieved from our long-term memory, and the reasons behind forgetting are as follows:

  1. The information we commit to our long-term memory is somehow lost
  2. The information to be learned was not memorized well enough
  3. Improper encoding of the information
  4. The information to be learned is not stored properly.
  • Hermann Ebbinghaus came up with his theory of forgetting as per which rate of forgetting is maximum in the first 9 hours, particularly during the first hour. After that, the forgetting rate slows down and not much is forgotten even after many days
  • Trace theory of forgetting is also termed as the disuse theory which states that memory leads to modification in the central nervous system which is akin to physical changes in the brain called memory traces. If the memory traces are not used for a long time, they simply fade away and become unavailable. The trace theory has been called baseless and inadequate by many psychologists as it is impractical


Forgetting also happens because of the interference between various pieces of information that the memory store contains. Interferences come about at a time of retrieval when these sets of associations compete with each other for retrieval. Two types of interference are explained below:

Proactive Interference

It means what one has learned earlier interferes with the recall of subsequent learning. Past learning interferes with the recall of later learning. For example- a person well-versed in English may find difficulty in learning French.

Retroactive Interference

It refers to difficulty in recalling what one has learned earlier because of learning new material. Later learning interferes with the recall of past learning. For example- if one cannot recall English equivalents of French words that one is currently memorizing then it might be because of retroactive interference. Forgetting can also occur because at the time of recall either the retrieval cues are absent or they are not appropriate as per the need. Retrieval Cues are aids that help us in recovering information stored in the memory.

Enhancing Memory 

There are various techniques to enhance your memory. Here are some of the ways to improve your memory:

Mnemonics Using Images- It requires us to create vivid and interactive images of the material that we wish to remember. Under this type, there are two techniques which are explained as follows:

Keyword Method- In this method, an English word that sounds similar word that sounds similar to a word of a foreign language is identified. This English word will function as a keyword. It is considered as a simple method as compared to rote learning

Method Of Loci– It helps in learning in a serial order. It first requires an individual to visualize places/objects that they know well in a specific order. Imagine the objects to be memorized and then associate them one by one to the physical locations

Mnemonics Using Organization

Mnemonics Using Organization- Organization refers to imposing certain orders on the material to be remembered. Techniques under this category are explained as follows-

  • Chunking- It helps in increasing short-term memory. To form larger chunks, we combine several smaller units, and it is important to discover organizational principles that can link these smaller units together in order to create chunks
  • First Letter Technique- In this method, we need to actively pick up the first letter of each word to be remembered and then arrange them logically to form another word or sentence. For example, we learn colors of the rainbow as VIBGYOR(Violet, Indigo, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red)
  • Deep Level Processing- As per craik and Lockhart processing information in terms of meaning that they convey leads to better memory as compared to attending to their surface features. It involves asking as many questions as possible related to the information that is to be learned
  • Give Oneself Retrieval Cues- Giving one self-sufficient retrieval cues will make it easier to remember the information as it will help in linking it to the retrieval cues

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Class 11 Psychology Chapter 7 Human Memory Extra Questions

Differentiate between Declarative and Procedural Memory.

Declarative Memory is the information focusing on facts, dates, etc whereas Procedural Memory lays focus on the procedures followed behind a particular task.

Explain the techniques of enhancing memory.

Various techniques are used for enhancing memory like methods Of Loci, chunking, deep-level processing, etc.

Why does forgetting take place?

Forgetting takes place due to various reasons like retrieval failure, improper encoding/storage of information, interferences, etc.

This was all about Class 11 Psychology Chapter 7 Human Memory. Are you planning to pursue a course in psychology from abroad? From the application process to scholarships, to know about the latest updates connect with our study abroad experts and counsellors at Leverage Edu. 

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