By Sana
BHMS and Yoga Trainer
06 May 2022 -
Medically reviewed by
Dhanashree
MA (Psychology)
What is Echoic Memory?
Table of Contents

A Gift to remember things.

Once a presentation was going on, an employee sitting at the front side of the conference table was yawning. The boss was at the entire swing in his new product presentation; everybody nodded and kept attention to it. The yawning person was having attention but not so much of it.

The boss sometimes kept an eye on his reactions. Suddenly, the boss stopped his presentation and cross-questioned the employee regarding the same. The yawning employee comes into an active position with a chill in his spine and just fumbles. The boss asks again to talk, suddenly something happens in his mind, and the employee starts giving the answers clearly and correctly. And the boss continues his work.

So what you observed from the above scene! Some of you might say, as usual, a story or a corporate for a starting of content. Well, let it be, the main point of observation from the above story is who helped the guy answer the question; here, you will say that another colleague prompted him. Yeah, that can be, but something happened in his mind. Yes, correct! His memory, his memory helped him to recollect all those things. But the question arises it is a memory, but what it is or why it feels like a sound kept playing in mind while something happens.

This memory is called Echoic memory. The memory to remember from sound, in simple terms

echoic memory comes under sensory memory type, e.g., smells, touch, visuals, etc. In echoic memory, the sound is stored for a short period. Echoic memory remains about 2 to 4 seconds. In a period, the brain replicates it in an understanding format, and we hear or recall, understand it, and sometimes use it to relate it. It's a continuous ongoing process and eternal, but it can decay over time due to aging, hearing problems, anxiety, depression, and long-term mental illness. (Winkler, I., Reinikainen, K. and Näätänen, R., 1993)

Why do we forget

Conclusion: there are reasons we forget things and, at last, constantly being anxious and burnout or sometimes getting depressed.

  • You hear more but listen less
  • Focus on more than one thing
  • Not getting sleep
  • Addiction to substances
  • Aging problems
  • Long term mental illness
  • Overthinking

How our ears work

The ear is the source of surrounding information. An organ that helps to identify what is happening in our surroundings. The echoic memory directly depends on the working of the ear.

It's an incredible journey of sound till we understand it.

First, the soundwaves created by some object fall on the ears and laters onto the eardrum in between the structure of the ear canal helping to amplify the sound, the sound waves creates vibrations in the eardrums, the eardrum is connected with the cochlea, and as the sound flows the fluid containing also moves and there is hair present over there that is associated with auditory nerve helps to send signals to the brain, and thus we understand the sound. Hence echoic memory depends upon hearing. (PYRNNE, J., 2010)

There are also different types of memory like

Short term memory: Usually last for a short period

Long-term memory: Usually last long periods like life events.

Implicit memory: Riding a car, or bike. Memory which you replicate unconsciously.

Explicit memory: Facts and events of life or important phases/moments of life

Echoic memory is a treatment for mental conditions.

As we discussed earlier, echoic memory can help treat mental conditions like anxiety, memory loss, depression, stress, Schziropenia, loss of confidence, etc.

Echoic memory helps decrease the memory loss problem by replaying it in mind. You can identify an event by focusing on the sound of its surrounding. Just as we do in rehearsals of dance events music events, let's try something to remember someone by their smell or from the scent.

Yeah !!! You got it right there!

You can remember some person just by their scent or fragrance. The same goes with the sound; also, you can recall the voice of the person or the object as it has been stored in your long-term memory with the help of echoic memory.

Echoic memory can help treat anxiety-related problems. One can retrieve their cheerful moments and achievement moments to decrease the anxiety levels and increase the competition. Anxiety creates fear of many things and leads to overthinking panic attacks and many other things. Echoic memory can motivate the person to revise the motivational information by his physician, mentor, gurus, and other events.

Echoic memory plays a vital role in the perceptions of the human being as we tend to believe from hearing, and hence it indirectly affects the thinking power of the person.

Music can bring back memories and be used as a mark of events to retrieve things. The fear of forgetting things also increases anxiety levels, so one can use echoic memory to remember things and decrease stress. In schools, children have recited poems, lessons, songs; hence constantly replaying memory can help to remember clearly and concisely.

Reading your things and reciting will help you remember as you listen to yourself. (Watkins, O.C. and Watkins, M.J., 1980.)

Why do we listen to songs other than for entertainment purposes?

There is a practical fact when we are in a cheerful feeling; we don't bother with the song's lyrics; when we are sad or down, we feel the song's lyrics. Hence it is possible with echoic memory. When we achieve something that we were trying for it, after the achievement, many motivation songs or hyped-up song starts to play, or we can listen to the songs in mind vice versa; when we are in a sad mood, the revised sounds changes that elicit the emotions.

Echoic memory is a continuous process going on as our system is continuously is in the live stage. The echoic memory can be used to treat depression caused by memory loss diseases such as Alzheimer's, and dementia which leads the patients to serious memory issues. Memory exercises can help to recollect and be in the moment. Music therapy exercises can be used in memory loss treatment.

The children who cannot remember things can be treated with echo memory of themselves. That's why we are made to read aloud from an early age to remember things. The echoic memory thus helps to identify the words and their meanings. In echoic memory, the sound is perceived in bits, and therefore after it creates a sentence in mind. Depression can be decreased by revising the patterns of self achievements. It leads to confidence and imagining new ways to solve problems; as it is a continuous process, we can find many ways to cope with depression.

Echoic memory helps in increasing imagination powers, sharpening the memory, exercising the mind, especially while listening to music.

Nostalgia - A best Mental exercise

If a song used to play in times of your life, you cherished the most. And after a long time in your busy schedule, it certainly pops up on your phone, and a whole scenario of your old times plays in front of your eyes and ears. You feel more confident and fill yourself with energy, and you continue your day with great confidence and new ways by altogether dropping your anxiety levels. Sounds familiar, thou?

Yes! Nostalgia is the mental exercise you had yourself. Various sensory memory helps in feeling nostalgia. Forex: when you are feeling down, remember the first complex deal you cracked and remember the congratulations sounds of that time; place the match you just won on your first try, are you able to hear the cheering noises. Hence the best feeling to start from feeling down and get up, hustle with great energy.

Echoic memory and nostalgia had close connections because a sound can help to travel too fast into past scenarios. Patients having memory loss problems can be helped by playing the things or sounds played in various life phases. It can help bring back memories associated with it, leading to an increase in its remembrance power.

Try this:

Before starting any vital work, plug in your earphone and play a song relatable to work, hence working as a bookmark. After the completion of work and passing of days, try to remember the work by placing the song. Therefore echoing memory can be used as a bookmark.

Remember, the more you recall the memories, the more the remembrance will be. Hence we should remember those memories which help us, not put into depression. So the Echoic memory can relate to the saying while something bad damaging things you are listening do not recall it; otherwise, it will fuel your anxiety levels. Seems practical approach.

And always listen rather than hear to increase the memory power.

So let us hope you remember what you just read—or have forgotten all?

Echoic memory leads to the remembrance of the sound, a continuous process. It's an ultra-short-term memory that does not last long if not retrieved by the brain can be used in treating memory loss, fear of forgetting, fumbles, anxiety, depression. Replaying the sound can elicit the nostalgia associated with it. Nostalgia is used to mood and morale of depressed patients. The ear is yet the complex organ in the human body, yet the capability is far reached. One can replay his loved ones' voices and imagine the whole scenario with him.

It's the perception of the listener how he converts it into a joyous sound.

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