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Study Notes

Memory Key Term Glossary

AS, A-Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Key terms and concepts in the study of Memory are covered in this glossary.

As you study Memory, don't forget to make full use of our Memory study notes and Memory revision quizzes

Active processing

Is where the person transforms or manipulates the material that is to be remembered


State of emotional arousal where there is a feeling or experience of apprehension and uncertainty

Articulatory process

Part of the phonological loop that repeats sounds or words to keep them in working memory until they are needed


The amount of information that can be held in memory

Central executive

Part of working memory that coordinates other components


Method of increasing short-term memory by grouping information into larger units


Changing the format of information for use in memory

Cognitive interview

Interview technique devised to improve the accuracy of witness recall

Context-dependent failure

Forgetting which occurs because the external cues at recall are different to those at the time of learning

Cue-dependent forgetting

Failure to recall information due to an absence of cuesor 'tiggers'


The length of time information remains in memory

Episodic buffer

Part of working memory which is a temporary store integrating information from the other components

Episodic memory

Type of long-term memory for information about specific experiences and events in our lives

Eyewitness testimony

An account given by people of an event they have witnessed


Failure to retrieve memories

Inner scribe

Stores information about the physical relationship of items (part of the visuo-spatial sketchpad)

Interference theory

Memory can be disrupted not only by previous learning but also by what is learned in the future

Leading question

Question phrased in such a way that it prompts a particular kind of answer

Long-term memory

Permanent store holding unlimited amounts of information for long periods

Misleading information

Incorrect information given the an eyewitness after an event


Techniques used to improve memory

Multi-store model

Explanation of memory that sees information flowing through a series of storage systems

Phonological loop

Part of working memory that deals with auditory information

Post-event discussion

A potential source of misleading information where witnesses discuss what they saw afterwards

Primary acoustic store

Part of the phonological loop which stores words heard

Proactive interference

A cause of forgetting by which previously stored information prevents learning and remembering new information

Procedural memory

Long-term memory for "knowing how"


Unpleasant material is pushed into the unconscious mind


The recall of stored memories

Retrieval failure

Difficulties in recall that are due to the absence of the correct retrieval cues

Retroactive interference

Occurs when newly learned information interferes with and impedes the recall of previously learned information


A cognitive framework or concept that helps organize and interpret information

Semantic memory

Type of long-term memory for information about the world that is not linked to particular contexts or events

Sensory register

Store of sensory information that lasts no more than a few seconds

Short-term memory

Temporary memory store that holds limited amount of information for a short period of time

State-dependent failure

Forgetting which occurs because the emotional or physical state at recall is different to that at the time of learning

Visual cache

Part of the visuo-spatial sketchpad that stores information about form and colour

Visuo-spatial sketchpad

Part of working memory that deals with visual information

Working memory model

Model that suggests short-term memory is composed of three, limited capacity stores

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