Conceptual Approaches to a Learning and Memory


ConceptualApproaches to a Learning and Memory

Formany years, learning and memory have been associated with twodistinct conceptual approaches. Learning has been linked withbehaviorism while memory has been associated with cognitivism (Okanoetal.2000).The aspect that informs what is learning and memory to behavioristsis whether a living organism can repeat a behavior it has acquired inthe external environment. On the other hand, cognitivist placesimmense emphasis on the nature of the mental representation, encodingand retrieval processes. Cognition is a word that is used to definethinking processes, encompassing awareness, perception, memory andlearning (Byrne,n.d).The ways in which individuals think about various features that theysee, hear, study and learn is referred to as cognition. The termmemory denotes the ability of a given individual to: save: things inthe mind that have been learned (Eaton,2004).It can fall under working memory or long-term memory. This paper willseek to find out whether human concepts are typically just a solidcharacterization of the natural world.


Behaviorismis the theoretical standpoint in which learning, memory and behaviorare explicated in terms of stimuli-response correlates (Eatonetal.2004).Behaviorists contend that due the fact that thought processes cannotbe measured or observed directly, it is extremely difficult to studyhuman thinking scientifically and objectively. In this light,behaviorists center their attention on two main aspects that can beobserved and measured through scientific processes environmentalstimuli and people’s behavior (Eatonetal.2004).Behavioral theory is based on four main assumptions:

Learningmust occur when stimuli and response take place

Learningmust entail a behavioral adjustment and

Learningis always explained through stimuli and responses

Behavioris this respect entails the way that people respond to variousstimuli. Therefore learning is a termed as a process of obtaining andadjusting associations among stimuli and reactions, mainly through aperson’s direct interface with the surrounding environment (Eatonetal.2004).

Onthe other hand, social learning theorists center their attention onthe way in which human beings learn from observing each other’sbehavior. It is evident that environmental stimuli shapes humanbehavior but it is also clear that cognitive processes that encompassawareness about stimuli reaction relationship and expectation aboutan event in the future, also perform a substantial role (Eatonetal.2004).In many cases, individuals learn via modeling, meaning that theyfirst observe what other people are doing and then try to behave insuch a way. It is also important to note that, n this process aperson’s self efficacy and cognitive ability are the two mainfactors that determine whether an individual will learn from othersand perform effectively (Eatonetal.2004).


Memoryis described as one of the most fundamental mental processes. Inneurology, two distinct approaches are employed to study learning,memory and cognition (Okanoetal.2000).The first approach focuses on the function performed by the synapticplasticity, particularly in the cerebellum, while the second appliesthe chick-quail transplantation mechanism on particular parts of thehuman brain to study neural population and how they interact in thedevelopment to create important neural circuits and to explainneurobiological connection of motor and perceptual predilection(Okanoetal.2000).

Thebrain is the part of the human body that is responsible for mindprocesses. It is, therefore, the basis of learning, thinking andmemory. Memory is a basic mental process, and without the memoryhuman beings can be in a position to perform any activities save forstereotyped and reflexes behavior (Okanoetal.2000).

Whileit is important to state that environmental factors play a crucialrole in the learning process, proponents of information processingtheory explore the processes that tale place in the brain of alearner, meaning that they focus on cognitive processes that takeplace in the learning process, memory and performance (Eatonetal.2004).The information processing theory is pegged on the concept thatinternal human mechanisms underpin cognition. Internal mechanismsalso determine how individuals mentally process information. Thisencompasses working memory, visual imagery, and long term memory. Inthis vein, human thinking is equated to how the computer functions.These theorists borrow words such as encoding, retrieval and decodingfrom the computer argot (Eatonetal.2004).

Inpsychology, cognition encompasses a group of mental processes such asmemory, learning, and decision making. It also refers to theinformation processing mechanisms (Eatonet al. 2004). Cognitionis a knack for the information processing, adjusting preferences andapplying knowledge. In this sense, cognition can either be artificialor natural, unconscious or conscious (Sincero,2011).


Thistheory is pegged on the conceptual framework that focuses on learningand memory based on the way that individuals perceive, think,remember, speak and solve problems. Memory structures are the maindeterminant of how individuals perceive, process, store, remember andforget information (Sincero,2011).The brain is perceived as an important organ in these processesbecause it possess networks that process and interpret information asindividuals learn from the environment and other people. Therefore,mental processes are influenced by both internal and external factorsthat ultimately bring about learning in a person (Sincero,2011).The different processes that relate to learning and memory can beexplicated by exploring the mental process. This theory conjecturesthat with effective cognitive processes, learning is easier and newinformation can be stored in the memory for a substantial time. Ifthe cognitive processes are not effective, learning will be difficult(Sincero,2011).

Behavioristsare concerned with the observable behavior, and is based on theprecept that humans learn by linking particular events withparticular consequences, and a such individuals will behave in theway that is perceived to yield maximum and desirable results. In thisline there is no difference between human and animal behavior (Sincero,2011).On the other hand Cognitive approach is based on the presumption thathuman beings have ability and capacity to organize and processinformation in their brain (Sincero,2011).Coginivists are not concerned about the observable behavior, becausewhat matters is the human thought processes behind a particularbehavior. Finally, neurologicalapproach is concerned on how various parts of the human brain perfortheir function to enable and facilitate learning, and storage ofinformation. Learning and storage of information in the brain will beeasy or difficult depeding on the effectiveness of the parts of thebrain concerned (Sincero,2011).

Itis evident that learning and memory are not processes that arecharacterized by natural world alone. The environement plays animportant role in the learning and storage (memory) process) but theinternal structures of the body (brain) are also essential. Thisknowledge will be of signifiance import in my profession because itwill help formulate more effective remedies to social andpsychological problems.


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Eaton,J.F, et al. (2004). Learning,Cognition, and Memory.Retrieved from:

Okano,H., Hirano, T. And Balaban,E. (2000). Learning and memory. PNAS,vol.97 no. 23. Retrieved from:

Sincero,S.M. (2011). CognitiveLearning Theory.Retrieved Jul 18, 2015 from