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Implicit Memory vs. Explicit Memory: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Implicit memory is unconscious recall, like riding a bike; explicit memory involves conscious recall, like remembering a date.
Implicit Memory vs. Explicit Memory

Key Differences

Implicit Memory refers to the type of memory that is not consciously recalled. It enables us to perform tasks without conscious awareness of these previous experiences. Explicit Memory, in contrast, involves conscious recall of information. It's the type of memory we use when we actively think back to a specific event or detail.
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Dec 09, 2023
Implicit Memory is often demonstrated through the effect of previous experiences on behavior, without an intentional effort to remember. This includes skills and conditioned responses. Explicit Memory, however, is divided into two categories: episodic and semantic. Episodic memory relates to specific events, while semantic memory involves facts and knowledge.
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Implicit Memory is exemplified in procedural memory, such as knowing how to ride a bike or play an instrument, which doesn't require conscious thought. Explicit Memory is what we refer to when we talk about memorizing a piece of information, like a name or a date.
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Implicit Memory usually remains intact in individuals who have amnesia, showing that it operates through different brain systems than explicit memory. Explicit Memory, however, is typically impacted by amnesia, as it relies on systems in the medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampus.
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Implicit Memory is crucial for learning complex tasks, where gradual improvement is seen over time, often without the learner being able to articulate what they’ve learned. Explicit Memory is more about 'declarative' aspects, where the person can consciously recall and declare the information learned.
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Comparison Chart

Conscious Recall

Does not require conscious recall
Requires conscious effort to recall
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Types of Information

Skills, conditioned responses
Facts, events, specific data
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Impact by Amnesia

Usually remains intact
Often significantly impaired
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Brain Areas Involved

Basal ganglia, cerebellum
Medial temporal lobe, hippocampus
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Example

Knowing how to swim
Remembering your first day of school
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Implicit Memory and Explicit Memory Definitions

Implicit Memory

Implicit memory is the unconscious retention of learned skills or habits.
You automatically know how to tie your shoes due to implicit memory.
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Explicit Memory

Explicit memory is the deliberate recall of information that one recognizes as a memory.
Recalling what you ate for breakfast is an example of explicit memory.
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Implicit Memory

Implicit memory is memory that expresses itself through performance rather than conscious recall.
Riding a bike effortlessly after years is an example of implicit memory.
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Explicit Memory

It's a type of memory that includes recalling names, dates, and facts.
Remembering the capital of France showcases explicit memory.
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Implicit Memory

Implicit memory involves learned behaviors that are automatic.
Playing a familiar song on the piano without thinking about the notes showcases implicit memory.
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Explicit Memory

Explicit memory is the memory of specific information and events that can be verbally articulated.
Describing your last vacation in detail is a function of explicit memory.
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Implicit Memory

It's a type of memory that influences behavior without conscious awareness.
Driving a familiar route without actively thinking about directions is a result of implicit memory.
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Explicit Memory

Explicit memory is the conscious, intentional recollection of factual information, previous experiences, and concepts.
Recalling your phone number is an act of explicit memory.
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Implicit Memory

It's the unconscious memory that aids in the performance of tasks.
Using a keyboard efficiently without looking at the keys is due to implicit memory.
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Explicit Memory

It involves memory that can be intentionally and consciously recalled.
Remembering the plot of a book you read is a use of explicit memory.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What is an example of explicit memory?

Remembering the date of a friend's birthday is an example.
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What is implicit memory?

Implicit memory is the unconscious recall of skills and habits.
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How is explicit memory tested?

Through tasks that require conscious recall of information, like memory quizzes.
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Can explicit memory decline with age?

Yes, explicit memory can decline, especially episodic memory.
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Can implicit memory be affected by amnesia?

Implicit memory often remains intact despite amnesia.
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Is riding a bike an example of implicit memory?

Yes, it's an example of procedural knowledge, a form of implicit memory.
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How does explicit memory differ from implicit memory?

Explicit memory involves conscious recall of information, unlike implicit memory.
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What types of memory are considered explicit?

Explicit memory includes episodic and semantic memory.
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What brain areas are involved in implicit memory?

The basal ganglia and cerebellum are primarily involved in implicit memory.
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Are habits formed by implicit memory?

Yes, habits are a form of implicit memory.
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Does explicit memory require more cognitive effort than implicit?

Yes, explicit memory requires conscious effort and attention.
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Is learning a new language an explicit memory task?

Yes, it involves conscious recall of vocabulary and grammar rules.
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How is semantic memory different from episodic memory?

Semantic memory is about facts and general knowledge, while episodic memory is about personal experiences.
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Is recognizing a face explicit or implicit memory?

Recognizing a face involves explicit memory.
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Are emotional responses part of implicit memory?

Yes, some emotional responses can be driven by implicit memory.
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Can people be unaware of their implicit memories?

Yes, as implicit memory operates unconsciously.
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Is recalling a historical date an example of explicit memory?

Yes, it involves the conscious recall of factual information.
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Do people with memory disorders retain implicit memory?

Often, yes. People with certain memory disorders may retain implicit memory skills.
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Can implicit memory be improved?

Yes, through practice and repetition of tasks.
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Is learning to play an instrument an implicit memory task?

Initially, it's an explicit task, but over time, it becomes an implicit memory.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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