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Encoding (memory)

In the study of memory, encoding is the processing of physical sensory input into one's memory. It is considered the first of three steps in memory information processing; the remaining two steps are storage and retrieval. During memory encoding, information may be processed about space, time, and frequency through automatic processing or effortful processing.

Additional recommended knowledge

Types of encoding

  • Visual encoding is the processing of images.
  • Acoustic encoding is the processing of sound, particularly the sound of words.
  • Semantic encoding is the processing of meaning, particularly the meaning of words.
  • Tactile encoding is the processing of how something feels, normally through touch.

Encoding for short-term storage (STS) in the brain relies primarily on acoustic rather than semantic encoding.


Baddeley (1966) investigated how information is encoded into short-term and long-term memories (STM and LTM, respectively). In STM the information is normally stored acoustically (as sound) as opposed to LTM where the information is normally stored semantically (as meaning).[1]


  • David G. Myers (2004). Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers. ISBN 0-7167-8595-1. 
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Encoding_(memory)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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