There are four kinds of memory…

The latest in my ‘Learn Something New Every Day’ series – taken from The Great Courses’ Trails of Evidence: How Forensic Science Works (Lecture 28: Human Memory and Eye-witness Accounts)

Cognitive Memory – this is the memory that the brain bases on sequences and patterns such as names, phone numbers, languages. It’s a conscious kind of learned memory.

Motor Vestibular – Unconscious memory that is based on input from the body as a whole. We might recognise it in the automatic ‘muscle memory’ of playing sports, dancing, playing an instrument or doing a task (like knitting and even driving) while ‘a thousand miles away’.

Emotional/Affective – based on input from our ‘gut’ emotions. This memory is accessed (and possibly triggered) during extreme emotion such as grief, fear, anger. These memories are strong, enduring and often unconscious. They are often functions of the lizard brain.

State Memory – memories that your brain bases on your senses. Have you ever remembered someone from your past when you smell their (old) scent? Or remembered where you were when you first heard a song? Or remembered something when you’ve been given a visual cue? These memories are the most conscious and area also the most helpful to police in developing eyewitness accounts.