The Relationship Between Learning And Memory

By Michael Puskar|Updated April 7, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

The relationship between learning and memory is incredibly close and intertwined. As stated by the American Psychological Association, learning means securing various skills and information, while memory relates to how the mind stores and recalls information. It is almost impossible for an individual to truly learn something without also having the memory to retain what they have learned. In many ways, learning and memory maintain a very interdependent relationship, one that is much more nuanced and complex than it may appear to be on the surface.

The Interdependence Of Learning And Memory

Want To Understand The Deeper Relationship Between 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 impossible. While learning can concern events that can take place in the past, present, and future, memory pertains to occurrences that have already passed. In other words, an individual can learn something new at virtually any time. Information, however, can only be mentally processed and stored in memory after learning.

Interestingly enough, as affirmed by Course Hero, the ability to learn relies upon one’s memory. Learning requires brain stimulation from the memory just as memory needs functional learning processes to collect and store new information.

Everyone has different styles of learning, and sometimes some extra assistance from an educator or a counselor is needed to improve a person’s ability to learn and retain information. However, there are things that you can do on your own to help improve these essential cognitive functions.


While many individuals have dedicated their time to studying the parallels between learning and memory, sleep wields a powerful influence and impact over critical cognitive functions such as learning and sleep. As Psychology Today explains, although people are constantly taking in and processing new information while they are awake, these capabilities are even stronger and more active during sleep. This contributes to a person’s ability to retain this information. 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 realize. Brain research has demonstrated that music’s impact on the brain mirrors exercise’s influence on the body. Individuals who are drawn to music also enjoy certain mental benefits regarding 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 have been found to retain higher amounts of learned content, tend to have higher IQs, and often have higher-quality memory abilities. Furthermore, music training has been shown to yield positive impacts on children; the best results generally occur if the training begins before the age of seven. 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 that 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 senses 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. And last, but not least, there’s long-term memory, which stores information that one can readily access even after long 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 is critical. Learning information can be unlearned and vice-versa. After all, learning and memory are activities that exist entirely in the brain.

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 viewpoints or interpretations of the same matter. This explains why people differ on topics such as religion and politics; individuals on all sides of the aisle are so sure that they are right and that everyone else is wrong. In a nutshell, this dichotomy truly gives credence to the power of perception.

A person’s perception not only impacts what they learn and memorize but also how that person learns and memorizes. For instance, someone might read a book, listen to music, or watch a movie, and their interpretation of the information can differ from another person who read, listened to, or viewed the same exact things. It also relates to how certain individuals can prefer to learn new things visually or auditorily – it can vary from person to person.

Although the impact that 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 a polar opposite manner to others? Childhood, age, socioeconomic status, upbringing, IQ scores, intelligence levels, gender, and ethnicity have all been hypothesized as potential factors that may impact various manners of perception.

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

BetterHelp Can Help

Want To Understand The Deeper Relationship Between Learning And Memory?

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

Our memories and our learned behaviors impact the manner in which our peers interact with us. Individual perception determines whether or not we love or loathe someone. It also influences 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 that 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 that will 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 that they will always have a friend, confidant, or simply someone to turn to.

You can contact BetterHelp at any time by clicking here. But first, you can read some of the reviews below to see how others have benefited from using BetterHelp’s online counseling and therapy services.

Counselor Reviews

“Mary is exceptional not only in her deep experience and intuitive observations, but also in her ability to truly listen and connect the dots of what is happening inside of a person. She is keen-minded and professional alongside being warm and supportive. I have thoroughly enjoyed my sessions with her and strongly recommend her if you are seeking this rare combination of qualities in a counselor.”

“Vivia is very calm and understanding. She listens to you well and tries to navigate your emotions to feel more positive about yourself and your life. I have found myself remembering good times and memories with her, she filters out the negative for me the best way she can.”


Although learning and memory are closely related, there are still fundamental differences between them, and hopefully, by reading this article, you’ve gained a better understanding of what sets them apart. Importantly, you’ve also gained an understanding of how learning and memory can affect our perceptions of others and what you can do to keep growing as a person. Although everyone has different learning styles and memories, we can all connect to people and the world around us in healthy, fulfilling ways. All you need are the right tools and you can begin today.

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