ETYM Old Eng. memorie, Old Fren. memoire, memorie, French mémoire, Latin memoria, from memor mindful; cf. mora delay. Related to Demur, Martyr, Memoir, Remember.
Ability to store and recall observations and sensations. Memory does not seem to be based in any particular part of the brain; it may depend on changes to the pathways followed by nerve impulses as they move through the brain. Memory can be improved by regular use as the connections between nerve cells (neurons) become “well-worn paths” in the brain. Events stored in short-term memory are forgotten quickly, whereas those in long-term memory can last for many years, enabling recall of information and recognition of people and places over long periods of time.
Short-term memory is the most likely to be impaired by illness or drugs whereas long-term memory is very resistant to such damage. Memory changes with age and otherwise healthy people may experience a natural decline after the age of about 40. Research is just beginning to uncover the biochemical and electrical bases of the human memory.1. The power of retaining and recalling past experience; SYN. retention, retentiveness.
2. Something that is remembered.
3. The area of cognitive psychology that studies memory processes.
4. The cognitive processes whereby past experience is remembered; SYN. remembering.
5. An electronic memory device; SYN. storage, store, memory board.
A device where information can be stored and retrieved. In the most general sense, memory can refer to external storage such as disk drives or tape drives; in common usage, it refers only to a computer’s main memory, the fast semiconductor storage (RAM) directly connected to the processor. See also core, EEPROM, EPROM, flash memory, PROM, RAM, ROM. Compare bubble memory, mass storage.
In computing, the part of a system used to store data and programs either permanently or temporarily. There are two main types: immediate access memory and backing storage. Memory capacity is measured in bytes or, more conveniently, in kilobytes (units of 1,024 bytes) or megabytes (units of 1,024 kilobytes).
Immediate access memory, or internal memory, describes the memory locations that can be addressed directly and individually by the central processing unit. It is either read-only (stored in ROM, PROM, and EPROM chips) or read/write (stored in RAM chips). Read-only memory stores information that must be constantly available and is unlikely to be changed. It is nonvolatile—that is, it is not lost when the computer is switched off. Read/write memory is volatile—it stores programs and data only while the computer is switched on.
Backing storage, or external memory, is nonvolatile memory, located outside the central processing unit, used to store programs and data that are not in current use. Backing storage is provided by such devices as magnetic discs (floppy and hard discs), magnetic tape (tape streamers and cassettes), optical discs (such as CD-ROM), and bubble memory. By rapidly switching blocks of information between the backing storage and the immediate-access memory, the limited size of the immediate-access memory may be increased artificially. When this technique is used to give the appearance of a larger internal memory than physically exists, the additional capacity is referred to as virtual memory.