Level of Processing & Memory Retention


This report gives the findings of research undertaken on the impacts of levels of processing on memory retention. The topic is of key interest since it allows determining how the level of processing determines the duration and capacity of memory retention. Essentially, memory retention is impacted by many factors, but it is said that the level of processing determines memory retention (Michaelian, 2016). This topic is vital since we will be able to understand the level of processing concept along with memory retentions and determine the connection between them. This paper will begin by defining memory and level of processing and discuss two factors affecting memory retention as well as the way level of processing affects memory retention.


Memory refers to the process of retaining information over a particular time. Memory can also be defined as the ability to utilize our past experiences in determining our future path. On the other hand, the level of processing is a framework established by Craik and Lockhart to be an alternate theory of memory, which suggested a distinct stage for sensory, working memory (Wirebring et al., 2015). As per the level of processing framework, processing of stimulus information is done at multiple different levels concurrently based on its characteristics. Moreover, the deeper the processing level, the more the memory will be retained and easily remembered.

Amount of sleep as a factor affecting memory retention

Sleep consolidates memory. Therefore, it makes it be more stable and easily accessible. This consolidation makes it harder to forget information. Every good sleep consolidates memory, so every day, whatever someone learns is retained in the memory for a long time if only one has a good amount of sleep (van Dongen et al., 2016). This means that less sleep gives the brain less time to process information and therefore leads to easy loss of information in the memory-making, it hard to remember some information. For every sleep, it takes a manageable amount of information to consolidate, and it needs more amount of sleep to consolidate information learned previously (van Dongen et al., 2016). Thus, the longer the amount of sleep, the higher the memory retention capacity.

Temperature as a factor affecting memory retention

 A person normally becomes aware of the environmental temperature and a unique sensation of cold or heat.  This awareness happens due to the imbalance between an individual’s thermal interchange and the environment. As a result, such an imbalance affects human brain functioning leading to slow acquisition and memory retention. Pieces of evidence have implied that mental performance, especially memory retention is negatively impacted by thermal stressors (Antony et al., 2017). Earlier studies also show a narrowing of attention because of either high or low temperatures. In essence, learning and memory are mental functions based on attention. An increase or decrease in temperature stirs insufficient attention to the learning function, and therefore, the acquisition, as well as memory retention, is impacted (Christophel et al., 2017). Therefore, it is certain that thermal stress can result in poor memory. This means that higher degrees of temperature results in slower acquisition as well as poor retention than moderate temperature.

How levels of processing affect memory retention

There is enough evidence supporting that the higher the level of processing gives a greater extent of analysis of information and therefore, better retention of information in LTS (Rumelhart & Ortony, 2017). Moreover, when semantic encoding results in a greater level of processing than phonemic or structural encoding, rehearsal, or reference to others results in an even higher level of processing. As a result, memory retention is high. Mostly, any form of information processing is controlled by a central processor (Nee & D’Esposito, 2016). Information retention relies on the way the central processor was utilized during learning. Therefore, the higher the level of processing, the more level of memory retention occurs.

Conclusion and hypothesis

To sum it all up, it is clear that memory retention significantly depends on the level of processing. The more the level of processing, the greater the extent of retention and recall of information. Therefore, there is enough evidence supporting that level of processing determines memory retention and recall. Based on the background readings, it is predicted that semantic encoding results in high levels of visual, phonetic, and semantic memory retention. It is also predicted that encoding by self-reference results in higher retention of personally relevant information compared to semantic encoding. The level of processing plays a big role in memory retention. Memories are consolidated. Therefore, for one to affect the higher level of processing, factors that affect the level of processing need to be, and memory retention needs to be avoided in order to improve memory retention. The readings have supported that encoding by self-reference seems to enhance the levels of processing, thus making it easy to retain information and retrieve information over time. Therefore, memory retention and recall depend on the level of processing. The more, the higher the depth of processing, the more an individual can retain memory.

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