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How does our working memory do encoding and remember depend on 2 factors: depth of processing and emotion factor (Craik and Lockhart, 1972 as cited in Saul McLeod, 2007). Craik & Tulving (1975) mentioned depth of processing refers to: the deeper we process the information, the information will likely to stay in our memory longer. Depth of processing is further described into 2 levels of depth: Deep processing and shallow processing. Emotion factor refers to an arousal of emotional state whether is happy emotions or sad emotions that associates to the events that we can vividly remember so well: called flashbulb memory.

To start with depth of processing theory, we have 2 options to have: deep processing or shallow processing to the stimulus from our environment. Saul McLeod (2007) mentioned for this theory: depth of processing is just creating memory trace that does not distinctively categorized into short-term memory or long-term memory. This theory purely just talking about how the mind process information. Shallow processing involve 2 types: structural processing (appearance) and phonemic processing (read with sound). Example: I perform shallow processing when I spell and read the word APPLE. On the other hand, deep processing that involve semantic processing is by assigning meaning to the word APPLE as red colour, fruit, healthy, my favorite fruit or picture an apple in the mind, that requires further thinking.

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Example from my experience, remembering my shopping list, if I were to just list the items on a paper will just my shallow processing where I might miss out some of my shopping checklist because I can’t remember all. To perform a deep processing to my shopping list, I will have to use method of loci to remember my list. Visualizing my shopping items in my mind in the places with I am familiar with and create the most ridiculous animated series or story, reason is the more ridiculous and crazy ideas for the pictorial mapping, the memory trail will be more vivid in the semantic memory: imagine seeing eggs jumping on my bed and then bread is hanging upside down from the ceiling. This is also one kind of semantic processing where I associate a meaning to my list. Basically deep processing the meaning for the words require general knowledge from us to be able to understand its’ associative meaning. Another powerful tool to remember a series of number is using imagery to associates with number in chunk. 047333 will be imagine as my kid wearing a t-shirt number 04 to use 7 darts to throw on 3 dart boards (333).

Deep processing also will be able to create episodic memory which involve personal experience or emotion. This episodic memory also equivalent as autobiographical memory and flashbulb memory. What makes the whole different if we compare semantic memory versus episodic memory is facts for semantic, emotion and personal experience for episodic. This kind of memories are episodes of our first day to school, honeymoon trip, wedding day, graduation day and accidents which happened to us. Example: semantic memory will define Produa Kancil is a very compact and economical car. Episodic memory will define Kancil was my first car because of my excitement receiving my first car from my dad. Remembered how my dad brought me to second-hand car dealer to choose the car. All the details of place to buy and color of my Kancil I can remember vividly due to because I had an emotional link to all these events. It could be my flashbulb memory as well. Able to vividly remember so well when and where it happen. Flashbulb memories are memories which is vividly remember anytime, I remembered vividly the day I chose to put down my dog to sleep due to some health complication. I cried so much and had a deep emotional breakdown at that moment. Remembered exactly what my mum said and the vet said, both have strong emotional link to my decision to put my dog to sleep. Remembered I had to receive stitches on my scalp after the accident of falling down from staircase before I am five years old. Brown and Kulik (1977, as cited in Travis Dixon, 2017) quoted flashbulb memories are “memories for the circumstances in which one first learned of a very surprising and consequential (or emotionally arousing) event”. Travis Dixon (2017) mentioned flashbulb memories most likely will only being created with 2 factors involve: high level of surprise or high levels of emotion. Without these factors, the events might just remained as memories of normal events.

In general, the depth of processing of the information will retain the memory longer either in semantic memory or episodic memory. Semantic does have meaning attached while episodic have emotional reaction attached. Therefore very much explain why we are able to remember certain memory better than other by having deep processing.

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Depth of Processing: Surprises or Emotional Events Help Our Flashbulb Memory Remember Better.
(2023, February 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 15, 2023, from

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Depth of Processing: Surprises or Emotional Events Help Our Flashbulb Memory Remember Better [Internet]. Edubirdie.
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