Description Of Semantic Memory

Semantic Memory

Description Of Semantic Memory. Semantic memory is the long term memory which processes ideas or concepts that are not driven from personal experiences. It is a type of explicit memory. This is also known as term memory, declarative memory, and memory of facts or events. Semantic memory are those memory which includes the common knowledge for example: the sound of letters, the names of countries, the capitals of countries and the basic facts that are acquired over lifetime. The general knowledge is intertwined in experience and dependent on culture. Semantic memory is not same as episodic memory. This is a memory of specific events that usually occurs during our lives. These memories can be recreated by us at any point of time.

 This is a new concept introduced in 1972 between Endel Tulving, of the University of Toronto and W. Donaldson of the University of Brunswick on the role of organisation in human memory. Tulving constructed a separate system of conceptualizing episodic and semantic memory. He wrote a book on “Elements of Episodic Memory. He noticed that both episodic and semantic memory are different in operations and the type of information both process. Before Tulving, many investigations were held related to the difference between episodic and semantic memory. Some of the notable experiments were conducted by J.F. Kihlstrom in 1980s, his test was on hypnosis on episodic and semantic memory.

Semantic memory is the collection of facts that are gathered from the time one is young. They are mainly indisputable information and are not related to emotions or personal experiences.

Some examples of semantic memory are:

  • Knowing the grass is green
  • Recognizing the names of colour
  • Knowing to use the phone
  • Understanding to form a sentence
  • The concept of what a cat is
  • The knowledge that fish swims in water
  • The dates when World War II began and ended
  • Knowing deer can be hunted
  • To know where to find a parrot
  • Knowing of what a tree looks like

There is a steady movement of memories from episodic to semantic, during childhood. When we learn new things and start to adapt to the environment. For example, at first learning about the phone, this may be an episodic memory when the child plays with a toy phone. This becomes the long- term memory. Semantic memory is generally derived from episodic memory. In semantic memory we get to learn new facts and concepts from experiences. Researchers agrees to the fact that episodic memory has gradually transitioned to semantic memory. In this research they found that, episodic memory reduces its sensitivity and is associated to particular events. This is to store the information as a general knowledge. For example, one knows how to operate the phone, but have forgotten the early knowledge acquired while playing with a toy phone. This does not mean that all semantic memory starts with episodic memory. If a person possess semantic memory then he have learned it before, it may be directly or indirectly from someone else at an early time.