The Relationship Between Learning And Memory

By Nadia Khan

Updated December 11, 2018

Reviewer Aaron Horn

The relationship between learning and memory is incredibly close and very intertwined. As stated by the American Psychological Association, learning pertains to securing various skills and information, while memory deals with the manner in which the mind stores and recalls information. Many great minds have stated that it is impossible for an individual to truly learn something without also having the memory to retain what they have learned. In many regards, learning and memory maintain a very interdependent relationship. This relationship is much more nuanced and complex than it may appear to be on the surface.

The Interdependence Of Learning And Memory


Learning and memory share quite interesting parallels. First and foremost, both functions exist in and rely upon the brain. Without the brain, both learning and memory would be literal impossibilities. However, while learning is an event which can take place in the past, present, and future, memory pertains to occurrences which have already passed. In other words, an individual can learn new intel at virtually any time. However, information can only be mentally processed and stored in memory after learning.

Interestingly enough, the ability to learn is strongly reliant upon one's memory, as affirmed by Course Hero. Learning requires brain stimulation from the memory just as memory needs functional learning processes to collect and store new particulars.


While many individuals have dedicated time to studying the parallels between learning and memory, sleep wields a very powerful influence and impact over these critical cognitive functions. Psychology Today explains why. During waking hours, people are consistently taking in and processing new information accordingly, even if they fail to realize it at the time. Clinically, these actions are referred to like learning and memory. So even though the brain is constantly processing and internalizing information, these capabilities are even stronger and more active during the time in which an individual sleeps. Without the proper amounts of sleep, the cognitive functions of learning and memory will gradually weaken with the passing of time.

Music Training


Believe it or not, learning and memory are also impacted by music training, as documented by additional findings from Psychology Today. Many people regard music as something which is either created or listened to for pleasure or recreational purposes. However, music has more effects on the human brain than most individuals realize. Brain research has demonstrated that the music's impact on the brain mirrors exercise's impact on the body. Individuals who have innate inclinations to music also enjoy certain mental benefits about emotion, speech, language, and overall processing of auditory functions.

The advantages above are only the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to music's impact on learning and memory. Musicians also retain higher amounts of learned content, higher IQs, and even high-quality memory abilities. Furthermore, music training has been shown to yield positive impacts on children; the best results generally occur if the training above begins before the age of 7 years old. Scientists have also stated that children's learning and memory abilities can experience adverse impacts when they are exposed to too much noise, which often has the inverse effect of music training.

Deeper Explanations And Variations

When most people think of learning, they are generally reminded of the mere intake and processing of new information. However, as explained by Brain AACN, there are many different layers and methods associated with the process of learning. For instance, learning can occur consciously and subconsciously. Human beings can pick up on information which is directly presented to them, while also noticing events and patterns which are less obvious. Clinically, these various methods of learning are referred to as explicit learning and implicit learning. Both variations are conducive to growth and memory.

Like its counterpart, memory is just as nuanced and complex as learning. First and foremost, there are a variety of memory styles. The most common ones include sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. As the name suggests, sensory memory gathers what the human sense pick up on and generally only lasts for a mere second. Short-term memory, however, lasts for relatively brief periods of time and usually stores minimal bits of information. Last, but not least comes the long-term memory style which stores information that one can readily access even after lengthier amounts of time have passed.


Most individuals like to believe that their memories are 100% accurate and foolproof. Nevertheless, scientific studies and breakthroughs have proven that this simply isn't true. While many memories are true and untampered with, over time, certain recollections can be altered, planted, distorted, or even forgotten altogether. Moreover, people can be brainwashed into believing certain facts which aren't true or conversely disbelieving information which turns out to be accurate. Memory is a very tricky subject matter,and even though all memories are not unreal or manipulated in one way or another, many of them are. An understanding and awareness of this are critical. Learning information can be unlearned and vise versa. After all, learning and memory are activities which exist entirely in the mind.

The Power Of Perception

As much as learning and memory impact the day-to-day functions of human beings, perception plays a significant role as well. No two individuals have the same perceptions or interpretations of the same matter. This explains why people differ on matters such as religion and politics; individuals on all sides of the aisle and spectrum are so sure that they are right and everyone else is wrong. In a nutshell, this dichotomy truly gives credence to the power of perception.

The person perception of each not only impacts what they learn and memorize but also how the person learns and memorizes. For instance, one person may view a movie where a specific group of individuals is targeted. As a result of the movie, the original viewer may not learn that individuals who fall into certain categories are more likely to be targeted.

As a result of such, the viewer may actively position themselves to not fall into the category of maligned individuals. Yet, not everyone will interpret the movie in the same manner. Another person who views the same movie may see a group of individuals being targeted and conclude that the ones going after the maligned group are evil. As a result, the second viewer may purposefully make it their mission to work against people who target certain groups of individuals.


Although the impact which perception wields over learning and memory is absolute, there are some debates regarding perception in and of itself. Various specialists and individuals have questioned what truly plays in the manner of perception. Why do some people interpret situations and occurrences in polar opposite manners of others? Childhood, age, socioeconomic status, upbringing, IQ scores, intelligence levels, gender, and even race have all been hypothesized as potential factors which may impact various manners of perception.

Despite the theories surrounding perception, Psychology Today goes on to affirm documented factors which impact this particular mental impression. Personal experiences and relationships with other people are some of the top factors which impact various manners of interpretation. For example, a child who grew up in an unstable home is more likely to be distrustful or skeptical of people around them. They may be less likely to take certain things at face value. However, another child who grew up in a very privileged home and community is almost guaranteed to have a wholly different outlook on the world around them.

A Final Word

Every individual is impacted by the relationship between learning and memory, regardless of whether or not they realize it. We are not only impacted by our learned information and recollections, but also by the information and memories of people in our environments.

Learned particulars and memories impact the manner in which our peers interact with us. Individual perception determines whether or not we love or loathe someone. It determines whether or not we harbor respect or contempt for other human beings. There is also a litany of factors and variables which weigh into perception, learning, and memory.


Your learning and memory styles will directly impact how you view the world and the type of people which you attract into your life. However, there are still many ways for people to learn and grow; one of the best ways includes connecting with other people and building meaningful relationships will which last a lifetime.

Here at BetterHelp, we provide guidance and advice to people who reach out to us. We also assist people as they learn, grow, and work to create their best and most fulfilling lives. While each must ultimately make their own decisions, BetterHelp exists so that people know they're not alone and will always have a friend, confidant, or simply someone to turn to.

You can contact BetterHelp at any time by clicking here.

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