Long-term MEMORY: What is it, Types and How to improve it

  • Jul 26, 2021
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Long-term memory: what is it, types and how to improve it

Memory is part of our brain functions, being one of the most important, due to its function it allows us consciously remember the elements of the past that condition our behaviors and thoughts, ultimately, our form of being. All the meanings that we give to what surrounds us are consolidated based on our previous experiences, that is, thanks to memory.

Specifically, those elements that have been learned over time and have been recorded or stored in our memory, fulfill the function of long-term memory. Memory tends to be understood in its entirety, however, within this term we are faced with different types of memory. To know the functions of this type of memory, in this Psychology-Online article we will explain long-term memory: what is it, types and how to improve it.

You may also like: Episodic memory: what it is, examples and exercises to improve it


  1. Phases of long-term memory functioning
  2. What is long-term memory?
  3. Declarative memory or explicit memory
  4. Implicit or non-declarative memory
  5. How to improve long-term memory
  6. Long-term memory loss

Phases of long-term memory functioning.

The memory fulfills different functions following three determined phases, the coding, the storage and the retrieval. These three phases allow a learning process to be consolidated, sustained over time from its storage and finally be recovered if necessary. The phases of long-term memory functioning are as follows:

  • Coding: external inputs received from abroad are processed by the person who perceives them. Subsequently, a meaning is attributed to them from the transformation of the different verbal, visual and / or sensory codes that are perceived.
  • Storage: the various meanings elaborated in the coding are retained in the brain. The retention will be different depending on the type of memory that comes into play, in the long-term memory the message will be stored for a longer period than the short-term memory.
  • Recovery: When the person needs to evoke the stored information, it leads to the recovery phase, in which the information that had been recorded in the memories is recovered.

What is long-term memory?

In 1968, Atkinson and Shiffrin presented the explanatory model of memory most used today to understand how it works. These two authors argued that the inputs received from the senses were processed in the sensory store, to later be received in the short-term memory, which consists of a short duration and capacity limited. Faced with this, certain information goes to the next store, the long-term memory.

In long-term memory, information is retained for a longer period of time, which can range from between seconds and years, so that the information selected to be part of the long-term warehouse is retained until it needs to be recalled and has a capacity that is practically unlimited. What is long-term memory? Long-term memory is one of the memory types, which has a longer duration.

Long-term memory types

Within long-term memory, we can find two main types of long-term memory: memory explicit or declarative memory and implicit or non-declarative memory, added by the works of Cohen and Squire (1980, 1992). Below we will delve into the two types of long-term memory.

Declarative memory or explicit memory.

Declarative memory, or also known as explicit memory, is one of the types of long-term memory. Declarative memory has the function of bringing to consciousness our memories, that is, that information retained in the memory about which the person is aware and evokes it voluntarily when it is necessary. This type of memory allows us remember past experiences, recognize historical events, be able to name what we have eaten this afternoon, etc. Declarative memory or explicit memory comprises all the elements that can be remembered in words. This type of memory can be divided into two subtypes:

  • Semantic memory: this type of declarative and long-term memory stores all the education acquired of the person, that is, it retains the facts and concepts acquired in our education of cultural character, world events and gives meaning to words and vocabulary. It is the one that allows us to know which is the capital of Spain or at what temperature the water should boil.
  • Episodic memory: Stores the memories that refer to the biographical and personal events each. It allows us to remember what we had for dinner at night or what our first day at university was like. For this reason, this type of long-term declarative memory can also be called autobiographical memory.
Long-term memory: what it is, types and how to improve it - Declarative memory or explicit memory

Implicit or non-declarative memory.

Implicit or non-declarative memory is one of the types of long-term memory. The implicit memory refers to the set of stored information that is not conscious or is not evoked voluntarily, contrary to what happens in declarative memory. This kind of memory understand our skills and it is divided into different categories:

  • Procedural memory: It has the function of storing the knowledge acquired against our abilities and skills, that is, it allows us to remember our habits and skills already learned, such as cycling or driving. You learn gradually through repetition and feedback, so that they become automated actions thanks to practice.
  • Priming: this type of non-declarative memory, has the function of remembering some type of information that was previously learned.
  • Conditioning: this type of memory refers to associative learning, that is, a response is automatically triggered before a certain stimulus, without it appearing consciously. For example, him operant conditioning.
Long-term memory: what it is, types and how to improve it - Implicit or non-declarative memory

How to improve long-term memory.

Each type of memory, such as long-term or short-term memory, can be stimulated, developed and activated, if time is invested in working on them and a lifestyle with habits is promoted healthy. There are different resources that can contribute to a better stimulation of memory systems. How to improve long-term memory? To improve long-term memory it is important to:

  • Stimulate the body: many studies defend the correlation between the realization of physical exercise and a better productivity in the memory systems.
  • A correct diet: In addition to a healthy diet, there are certain foods that are related to increased memory activity. Some of the memory food they are blue fish, nuts, green vegetables and fruits (especially red fruits and apples). However, in the same way that we find foods that help stimulate memory, there is a set of foods that harm our brain, thereby affecting memory productivity, such as foods high in saturated fat, meat red food, fried foods and junk food, sweets and cakes, fatty cheeses, and foods high in sugars or salt.
  • Rest: In the same way that physical stimulation is very important for the activation of memory, the hours of rest are also essential for its proper functioning, recommending an 8-hour sleep daily.
  • Training to improve long-term memory: to be able to strengthen memory and give it more use productive, the only way is not from the study, there are many games that allow the improvement of the memory. The two types of exercises that most promote the development, stimulation and activation of long-term memory are concentration exercises and verbal fluency exercises. Here you can find games to improve memory.

Long-term memory loss.

The memory loss It consists of pathological forgetfulness and can present as frequent loss of personal items, disorientation, or not remembering important appointments. Memory loss can be temporary or permanent. The causes of memory loss are usually health problems, emotional disorders and dementias.

  • If you want to check how your memory is, you can perform the memory test.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

If you want to read more articles similar to Long-term memory: what is it, types and how to improve it, we recommend that you enter our category of Neuropsychology.


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