75 Long-Term Memory Examples

long-term memory types and definition, explained below

Long-term memory refers to the system in our brain that stores information for extended periods, from hours to a lifetime (Norris, 2017).

This category of memory differs significantly from short-term memory, not only by the duration of memory retention, but also by its unlimited storage capacity (Revlin, 2012).

Types of Long-term memory include explicit memory (with sub-types: semantic and episodic) and implicit memory (with sub-types: procedural and emotional), as demonstrated in the image below:

types of long-term memory, explained below

Each of the above types of long-term memory are defined below:

  • Explicit Memory: This is the conscious, intentional recollection of factual information, previous experiences, and concepts.
  • Semantic Memory: This is a subtype of explicit memory that encompasses general worldly knowledge we’ve amassed throughout our lives.
  • Episodic Memory: Another category of explicit memory, it represents our memory of experiences and specific events in time in a serialized form.
  • Implicit Memory: This represents previous experiences in people’s skills and activities that they perform without conscious awareness.
  • Procedural Memory: This is a type of implicit memory that enables us to carry out commonly learned tasks without conscious thought.
  • Emotional Memory: This is the aspect of memory that covers our recollection of emotional responses from significant life events (Baddeley, Eysenck & Anderson, 2009).

See Also: Types of Short-Term Memory

Long-Term Memory Examples

1. Explicit Memories

1.1 Semantic Memories

Taking a Multiple-Choice ExamRetrieving information from long-term memory to choose the correct response option in an exam
Writing an Essay on HistorySearching long-term memory for key information about historical events, such as dates and figures
Identifying SymbolsRecognizing the meaning of traffic signs effortlessly
Reading a BookRecognizing words and comprehending the text without much conscious effort
Recalling Famous QuotesRemembering legendary quotes or sayings after reading or hearing them once
Recalling a PoemAbility to recite a learned poem word for word
Remembering Key EventsMemory of dates and details about significant historical events
Recognizing a SongIdentifying a song from a few notes and remembering its lyrics
Remembering FormulasMemory of mathematical and scientific formulas
Old AdvertisementsRecalling theme tunes or catchphrases from commercials long after they’ve stopped airing
See more examples of semantic memory

1.2 Episodic Memories

Testifying in CourtRecalling a sequence of events observed during a crime for testimony
The Job InterviewSearching memory for previous work experiences and challenges to describe in an interview
Who Said WhatVividly remembering past conversations and agreements in discussions with a partner
Birthday RemembranceRemembering the date and significance of a loved one’s birthday
Traveling Back to a Favorite Vacation SpotNavigating to a familiar site seen during a memorable holiday without a map
Childhood MemoriesRecalling the face of a childhood friend after several years
Surviving a Sporting EventAbility to recall sports statistics, scores, team members, and plays
Driving TestRecollecting details about the first driving test
First DateRemembering the location, conversations, and feelings experienced during a first date
Childhood EventsRecollection of family, school events, or get-togethers
See more examples of episodic memory

2. Implicit Memories

2.1 Procedural Memories

Playing an Old SongRecalling how to play a particular song on the piano from long-term memory
Driving to WorkNavigating a familiar route automatically without much conscious thought
Professional AthletesPerforming well-practiced moves almost instinctively without much conscious thought
Recalling a Favorite RecipeEasily remembering the ingredients and steps to prepare a favorite dish
CyclingRemembering how to ride a bike even after a long period of inactivity
Identifying Different Tastes and SmellsRecognizing the taste of chocolate or the smell of roses without much thought
Using a ToolRemembering how to use a screwdriver or hammer despite infrequent use
Singing a SongAbility to sing a song after hearing it several times
Guiding an ActivityInstructing someone on a procedure you’re comfortable with, like cooking a meal
Motor SkillsEngaging in physical activities like swimming or riding a bike without much conscious thought
See more examples of procedural memories

2.2 Emotional Memories

The Unliked ColleagueDeveloping negative emotional reactions towards a colleague due to numerous unpleasant encounters
A Startling ReminderFeeling intense nervousness and fear when encountering situations resembling a traumatic event
Responding to A Favorite JamAutomatically starting to dance when a specific song plays
Feeling Nervous During ExamsRecurring anxiety during tests based on previous stressful test experiences
First KissRemembering the emotional and physical experiences associated with a first kiss
Feeling of Fear at the DentistExperiencing recurring anxiety and fear during dental visits due to a painful past experience
The Two-Wheel TriumphRemembering the excitement of riding a bike for the first time
Mourning a LossEmotionally reminiscing about losing a loved one, often resurfacing on anniversaries
Responding to CriticismReacting negatively to criticism based on emotional memories from past experiences
Experiencing Déjà VuFeeling a strong sense of familiarity with something that shouldn’t be familiar at all
Reacting to PainReflecting an immediate emotional response to a painful stimulus due to past experiences

Applications of Long-Term Memory 

1. In Education 

Listening to a professor’s lecture does not result in that material being sent straight from the student’s working memory, where it is being consciously processed, to being stored directly in long-term memory.

However, if the student rehearses that information repeatedly over the next several hours and days, then its trace in long-term memory will become stronger. The stronger the trace, the easier it is to retrieve.

Understanding this basic principle of repetition is one of the key findings of research on long-term memory (Craik & Watkins, 1973). Today, it is considered common knowledge.

So is chunking, which involves organizing information into manageable smaller groups that make it easier to commit to long-term memory (Bodie et al., 2006).

For over one hundred years (Ebbinghaus, 1885/1913), research has demonstrated the value of distributed practice over massed practice in enhancing memory recall and recognition (Dunlosky et al., 2013).

Cepeda et al. (2006) conducted a meta-analysis of 254 studies which compared mass versus distributed practice on verbal memory. The studies were varied and included memory for words, sentences, and facts (i.e., semantic memory). Their results found consistent and substantial support for the superiority of distributed practice.

The principle of repetition improving long-term memory has far-reaching implications in education and academics. 

2. In Understanding Eye-Witness Testimony

Various aspects of long-term memory have been examined in thousands of studies. A great deal of that research has been focused on understanding how information is stored in long-term memory and how memory can be improved.

One notable exception is the research on eye-witness testimony (Loftus, 1997). Although most people have great confidence in the accuracy of their memory, especially their episodic memories, the work of Loftus and colleagues has demonstrated that in fact, memories are incredibly malleable.

In a seminal study, Loftus and Palmer (1974) demonstrated that a witness to a car accident could have their memory influenced by the use of different words when asked to recall the event; referred to as leading questions.

After watching a video of two cars having an accident, research participants were asked to estimate how fast the two cars were travelling upon impact: 

“How fast were the two cars going when they ______ into each other?”

For some participants, the word “smashed” was used in the question, while for others, it was “contacted.”

The “eyewitnesses” estimated that the car was travelling at a much higher rate of speed when the word “smashed” was used compared to the word “contacted.”

Thus, demonstrating the ease with which episodic memory can be manipulated simply by the use of a single word.

This area of research has had a substantial impact on our understanding of eyewitness testimony, the impact of misinformation on witnesses, the role of witness confidence and lineup procedures, and expert testimony (Loftus, 2019).


Long-term memory plays a fundamental role in our daily lives, enabling us to recall past events, procedural knowledge, and learned information (Ormrod, 2017). Not all of these memories are consciously accessible, such as those covered by procedural memory, but each type is invaluable to our interaction with the world around us. At times, these memories can shape our emotional responses as seen in instances of emotional memory. Through the lens of episodic, semantic, implicit, procedural, and emotional memory, we are able to understand the breadth and depth of our long-term memory system. Indeed, our life experiences and our learned knowledge would not be the same without our long-term memory acting as our brain’s vast repository (Norris, 2017).


Baddeley, A., Eysenck, M. W., & Anderson, A. C. (2009). Memory. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Bodie, G. D., Powers, W. G., & Fitch-Hauser, M. (2006). Chunking, priming and active learning: Toward an innovative and blended approach to teaching communication-related skills. Interactive Learning Environments14(2), 119-135.

Cepeda, N. J., Pashler, H., Vul, E., Wixted, J. T., & Rohrer, D. (2006). Distributed practice in verbal recall tasks: A review and quantitative synthesis. Psychological Bulletin132(3), 354.

Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K. A., Marsh, E. J., Nathan, M. J., & Willingham, D. T. (2013). Improving students’ learning with effective learning techniques: Promising directions from cognitive and educational psychology. Psychological Science in the Public Interest14(1), 4-58.

Ebbinghaus, H. (1913). Memory (H. A. Ruger & C. E. Bussenius, Trans.). New York, NY: Teachers College, Columbia University. (Original work published 1885).

Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 13(5), 585–589.

Loftus, E. F. (1997). Creating false memoriesScientific American, 277(3), 70-75.

Loftus, E. F. (2019). Eyewitness testimony. Applied Cognitive Psychology33(4), 498-503.

Norris, D. (2017). Short-term memory and long-term memory are still different. Psychological Bulletin, 143(9), 992.

Ormrod, J. E. (2017). How we think and learn: Theoretical perspectives and practical implications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Revlin, R. (2012). Cognition: Theory and practice. New York: Macmillan.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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