what is it in psychology. Theory of semantic memory. How to develop the type of memory?

Semantic memory: what is it and how to develop it?

Think what you say and say what you think. We do both thanks to seman­tic mem­o­ry. And depend­ing on how it is devel­oped, we can stop our judg­ments in time or, con­verse­ly, con­vince any­one of our right­ness.

What it is?

The def­i­n­i­tion comes from the Greek seman­tikos, which trans­lates as “denot­ing”. Seman­tic mem­o­ry stores our knowl­edge of words, rules of eti­quette and behav­ior, con­cepts of a par­tic­u­lar object, action, and so on. First of all, we need it to use lan­guage and speech. In gen­er­al, the con­cept of seman­tic mem­o­ry in psy­chol­o­gy began to be wide­ly used a lit­tle more than half a cen­tu­ry ago.

In the late six­ties, this term was intro­duced into sci­ence by the Amer­i­can psy­chol­o­gist Michael Ross Quil­lian. And in 1972, his Cana­di­an col­league with Eston­ian roots, Endel Tul­v­ing, sin­gled out anoth­er type of seman­tic mem­o­ry, which, accord­ing to his the­o­ry, is respon­si­ble for stor­ing data, episod­ic mem­o­ry, which stores mem­o­ries of events.

But any­way it is a kind of chain of knowl­edge that is formed from words, any oth­er ver­bal sym­bols, con­cepts of mean­ings and their rela­tion­ships, as well as our abil­i­ty to apply all this in life. That is, our “pig­gy bank” called “seman­tic mem­o­ry” stores not only words and sen­tences, but also images of these words, ideas about them, con­cepts of entire life sit­u­a­tions, for exam­ple, the basics of eti­quette or knowl­edge of ele­men­tary safe­ty rules, under­stand­ing our loca­tion (maps and dia­grams are “stacked” next to the words about them). In this way, it is seman­tic mem­o­ry that influ­ences how we under­stand this or that event in our life in par­tic­u­lar and in soci­ety as a whole, allows us to find or not to find mutu­al under­stand­ing with oth­er peo­ple.

In psy­chol­o­gy, it is believed that the seman­tic load is dis­trib­uted as fol­lows. Our con­cepts of objects, plants, ani­mals, build­ings, that is, every­thing that we can see, are stored in the “visu­al depart­ment”. The skills of own­ing tools, the abil­i­ty to per­form any actions live in anoth­er, motor part of the brain. It’s quite under­stand­able why some schol­ars con­sid­er seman­tic mem­o­ry to be auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal. After all, each of us can have our own per­son­al idea of ​​​​any­thing, and this is due to what knowl­edge, con­cepts, actions we remem­ber, per­haps even in child­hood.

When resort­ing to this mem­o­ry, we often do not even think, although it works hard when we are talk­ing, read­ing, solv­ing some prob­lem. After all, every­one knows that twice two is four, there is noth­ing to think about.

Unlike episodic

First there was the word, and then the deed. So it is with mem­o­ry. Accord­ing to some stud­ies, seman­tic mem­o­ry appears in our child­hood, when we sim­ply learn cer­tain facts, then, acquir­ing our own life expe­ri­ence, we begin to “put it aside” in episod­ic mem­o­ry. In any case, the devel­op­ment of both depends on many fac­tors, thanks to which we can receive, process and repro­duce infor­ma­tion. And here again it is worth pay­ing atten­tion to the sep­a­ra­tion of seman­tic and episod­ic mem­o­ry.

  • Seman­tic ready to receive new knowl­edge. But already accu­mu­lat­ed knowl­edge, as well as our atti­tude towards it, prac­ti­cal­ly does not change. Every­one knows that the water is salty in the sea, and the stars are in the sky.
  • episod­ic mem­o­ry stores data about what we expe­ri­enced our­selves or saw with our own eyes. The same mete­or show­er or per­for­mance of a star.

Mean­while one can­not exist with­out the oth­er. Remem­ber­ing the last con­cert, we will first turn to the seman­tic part of our mem­o­ry, it will tell us gen­er­al words and phras­es that describe what we saw, and then we will con­nect the episod­ic one, which will clar­i­fy our per­son­al atti­tude to what hap­pened, we will try to recre­ate the pic­ture we need, as if it is hap­pen­ing right now . But do not for­get that, unlike the seman­tic one, it is high­ly sub­ject to change. Any of our new knowl­edge can affect the atti­tude to what is hap­pen­ing. Yes­ter­day you were delight­ed with this artist, and today you learned that he is a crim­i­nal, it is unlike­ly that next time you will talk about how he sang with the same breath and enthu­si­asm as before.

But data stored in seman­tic mem­o­ry are not sub­ject to change. The earth is round, the sky is blue, the sea is deep, the dog barks, the car­a­van moves on. Seman­tic mem­o­ry also has one more fea­ture.

More often than not, it moves from the gen­er­al to the par­tic­u­lar. For exam­ple, with the word “fruit” she gives out the fol­low­ing — “sweet”, “apple”. Although the inhab­i­tants of Asian coun­tries, most like­ly, instead of a fruit from our gar­den, an image of a man­go arose, for exam­ple.

Forgetting in semantic memory

Just as seman­tic and episod­ic mem­o­ry receive infor­ma­tion in dif­fer­ent ways, they each lose it in their own way.

  • As regards the first, prob­lems with it most­ly come down to what is called “spin­ning on the tongue”. We know exact­ly what we want to say, but we can’t remem­ber the right word, con­cept, name. Or we know the artist’s name for sure, but can’t remem­ber to say it out loud. But as soon as we give the name of his first wife, the name of the first song, it is worth sound­ing a few notes from his hit, then both the name and sur­name of the star emerge from the sub­cor­tex. The same is with the celes­tial stars — you for­got some­thing from an astron­o­my les­son, but just thought about how you walked under the moon, and imme­di­ate­ly remem­bered the infor­ma­tion you need­ed at the moment.
  • Episod­ic mem­o­ry, on the oth­er hand, some­times, with­out our per­mis­sion, eras­es cer­tain mem­o­ries from our lives or, con­verse­ly, stores infor­ma­tion about an event that we should have for­got­ten for a long time. The answer to the ques­tion why this is hap­pen­ing is being sought by the bright­est minds of mankind. Only one thing is known for sure — episod­ic mem­o­ry is mobile, some­times it gives us mem­o­ries from dis­tant child­hood, some­times it can­not find data about the last month.

All this is pure­ly indi­vid­ual and depends on the val­ue and impor­tance of the moment, the abil­i­ties of our mem­o­ry, and all its types, and much more.

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