The fact that there are several different phases of the manifestation of human memory is one of the first things apt to be noticed by the student of human memory. That is to say, that there are several general classes into which the phenomena of human memory may be grouped.
Some persons quite highly developed in certain phases of human memory, and quite lacking in others. A person who had developed his memory along any specific line would have at the same time developed it equally along all the other lines, if there were but one phase or class of human memory.
Phases Of Human Memory
The phases of memory may be divided into two general classes, namely:
- Human Memory of sense impressions.
- Human Memory of ideas.
This classification is somewhat capricious, for the reason that sense impressions develop into ideas, and ideas are composed to a considerable extent of sense impression.
Sense Of Impression
But in a general way the categorization serves its reason, which is the grouping together of certain phases of the phenomena of human memory. Memory of Sense Impressions of course includes the impressions received from, all of the five senses: sight; hearing; taste; touch; and smell.
But, we find that the majority of such impressions are those obtained through the two respective senses of sight and hearing, when we come down to a realistic assessment of sense impressions preserved in the human memory.
Sense Of Touch, Taste And Smell
The impressions received from the sense of touch, taste, and smell, respectively, are rather small, except in the cases of certain experts in special lines, whose job consists in acquiring a very delicate smell or touch, sense of taste, and correspondingly a fine sense of memory along these particular lines.
For example, the wine tasters and tea-tasters, who are able to differentiate between the various grades of products handled by them, have developed not only very fine senses of smell and taste, but also a remarkable memory of the previously received impressions, the power of discrimination depending as much upon the memory as upon the special sense.
In the same way the skilled surgeon as well as the skilled mechanic acquires a fine sense of touch and a correspondingly highly developed memory of touch impressions.
Senses Of Sight
But, as we have said, the greater part of the sense impressions stored away in previously received human memories through the senses of sight and hearing, respectively.
The majority of sense impressions, stored in the human memory, have been received more or less unwillingly, that is with the application of but a slight degree of attention.
They are more or less unclear and hazy, and are recalled with difficulty. According to the law of association, the remembrance of such things is generally coming about without conscious effort.
That is, they come principally when we are thinking about something else upon which we have given thought and attention, and with which they have been associated.
There is dissimilarity between the remembrance of sense impressions received in this way, and those, which we record, by the bestowal of interest, attention, and concentration.
The sense impressions of sight are numerous in our subconscious storehouse. We are continuously exercising our sense of sight, and receiving thousands of different sight impressions every hour.
But most of these sight impressions are faintly recorded in the memory, because of the little attention or interest, which we give to them. But it is amazing, at times, when we find that we recall many faint sight impressions of which we did not dream we had any record, when we recall some important occasion or incident.
Recall some particular time or event in your life, to realize the significant part played by sight impressions in the phenomenon of human memory, and see how many more things that you saw are remembered, compared with the number of things that you tasted, or smelled, or felt, or heard.
Sense Of Hearing
The impressions received through the sense of hearing, and accordingly the human memory stores away a great number of sound impressions. In some instances the impressions of sight and impression of sound are joined together.
For example in the case of words, in which not only the sound but the shape of the letters composing the word, or rather the word-shape itself, are stored together, and accordingly they are more readily remembered or recollected than things of which but one sense impression is recorded.
Human memory teachers use this fact as a means of helping their students to memorize words by speaking them aloud, and then writing them down. The more impressions that you can make regarding a thing, the greater are the chances of your easily recollecting it.
Similarly it is very important to join an impression of a weaker sense, to that of a stronger one, in order that the former may be memorized. For example, if you have a poor ear memory, and a good eye memory, it is well to join your sound impressions to the sight impressions. In this way you take advantage of the law of association, of which we have told you.
Other Human Memory Senses
We can find smaller divisions of memory known as memory of locality, memory of figures, memory of form, memory of color, and memory of written or printed words under the sub-class of sight impressions.
We can find smaller divisions of memory known as memory of spoken words; memory of names; memory of stories; memory of music, etc, under the sub-class of sound impressions.