Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Long-Term Memory

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_783-1


Definition of Long-Term Memory

Long-term memory is, conceptually, the process by which events, skills, procedures, and concepts are stored indefinitely in the mind. That is not to say that forgetting is impossible, just that there is no precisely defined point when that will happen (Greene 1987). The model most people are familiar with involves the movement of concepts from short-term or working memory into long-term memory with rehearsal or practice (Atkinson and Shiffrin 1968). It is thought that information moving through short-term memory is encoded into long-term memory through a process called synaptic consolidation which leads to the formation of a permanent change in the brain defined as an engram (Dudai 2004; Liu et al. 2012). This change in brain connections is thought to materialize physically as increased synaptic strength (increased dendritic...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. In K. W. Spence & J. T. Spence (Eds.), Psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 2, pp. 89–195). New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aureli, F., Schaffner, C. M., Boesch, C., Bearder, S. K., Call, J., Chapman, C. A., … van Schaik, C. P. (2008). Fission-fusion dynamics: New research frameworks. Current Anthropology, 49, 627–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bahrick, H. P., Bahrick, P. O., & Wittlinger, R. P. (1975). Fifty years of memory for names and faces: A cross sectional approach. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104, 54–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boeckle, M., & Bugnyar, T. (2012). Long-term memory for affiliates in ravens. Current Biology, 22, 801–806.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.023.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruck, J. N. (2013a). Decades-long social memory in bottlenose dolphins. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 280, 1726.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.1726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruck, J. N. (2013b). New perspectives on dolphin whistles: Evaluating signal context, categorization and memory. Doctor of Philosophy, University of Chicago, Chicago.Google Scholar
  7. Caldwell, M. C., & Caldwell, D. K. (1965). Individualized whistle contours in bottlenosed dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Nature, 207, 434–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Caldwell, M. C., Caldwell, D. K., & Tyack, P. L. (1990). Review of the signature whistle hypothesis for the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). In S. Leatherwood & R. Reeves (Eds.), The bottlenose dolphin (pp. 199–234). New York: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Charrier, I., Mathevon, N., & Jouventin, P. (2003). Fur seal mothers memorize subsequent versions of developing pups’ calls: Adaptation to long-term recognition or evolutionary by-product? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 80, 305–312.  https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1095-8312.2003.00239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Connor, R. C., & Whitehead, H. (2005). Alliances II. Rates of encounter during resource utilization: A general model of intrasexual alliance formation in fission-fusion societies. Animal Behaviour, 69, 127–132. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6W9W-4DWGYYM-3/2/7d30f43aae24eca81262f7d279417500.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2004.02.022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Connor, R. C., Wells, R. S., Mann, J., & Read, A. J. (2000). The bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops spp: Social relationships in a fission-fusion society. In J. Mann, R. C. Connor, P. L. Tyack, & H. Whitehead (Eds.), Cetacean societies: Field studies of dolphins and whales (pp. 91–126). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Conway, M. A., & Pleydell-Pearce, C. W. (2000). The construction of autobiographical memories in the self-memory system. Psychological Review, 107(2), 261–288.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.107.2.261.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dasser, V. (1985). Cognitive complexity in primate social relationships. In R. A. Hinde, A. N. Perret-Clemont, & J. Stevenson-Hinde (Eds.), Social relationships and cognitive development (pp. 9–22). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Drogos, L. L., Rubin, L. J., Geller, S. E., Banuvar, S., Shulman, L. P., & Maki, P. M. (2013). Objective cognitive performance is related to subjective memory complaints in midlife women with moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms. Menopause, 20(12), 1236–1242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dudai, Y. (2004). The neurobiology of consolidations, or, how stable is the engram? Annual Review of Psychology, 55(1), 51–86. Retrieved from.  https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.142050.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dunbar, R. (1998). The social Brian hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology, 6, 178–190.  https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1520-6505(1998)6:5,178::AID-EVAN5.3.0.CO;2-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Emery, N. J., Clayton, N. S., & Frith, C. D. (2007). Introduction. Social intelligence: From brain to culture. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 362, 485–488.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2006.2022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eysenck, M. W. (2012). Fundamentals of cognition (2nd ed.). New York City, New York: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  19. Foerde, K., & Poldrack, R. A. (2009). Procedural learning in humans. In L. R. Squire (Ed.), Encyclopedia of neuroscience (pp. 1083–1091). Oxford: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Godard, R. (1991). Long-term memory of individual neighbors in a migratory songbird. Nature, 350, 228–229.  https://doi.org/10.1038/350228a0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Greene, R. L. (1987). Effects of maintenance rehearsal on human memory. Psychological Bulletin, 102(3), 403–413.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.102.3.403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Harley, H. E. (2008). Whistle discrimination and categorization by the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus): A review of the signature whistle framework and a perceptual test. Behavioural Processes, 77, 243. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376635707003142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hart, B. L., Hart, L. A., & Pinter-Wollman, N. (2008). Large brains and cognition: Where do elephants fit in? Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32, 86–98. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6T0J-4NX2NJF-3/2/8b4e647650898d779484d995ee878ea7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Holekamp, K. E., Sakai, S. T., & Lundrigan, B. L. (2007). Social intelligence in the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 362, 523–538.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2006.1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Humphrey. (1976). The social function of intellect. In P. P. G. Bateson & R. A. Hinde (Eds.), Growing points in ethology (pp. 303–317). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Insley, S. J. (2000). Long-term vocal recognition in the northern fur seal. Nature, 406, 404–405.  https://doi.org/10.1038/35019064.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Isbell, L. A., & Van Vuren, D. (1996). Differential costs of locational and social dispersal and their consequences for female group-living primates. Behaviour, 133, 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Janik, V. M. (2009). Acoustic communication in delphinids. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 40(09), 123–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Keenan, S., Mathevon, N., Stevens, J. M. G., Guéry, J. P., Zuberbühler, K., & Levréro, F. (2016). Enduring voice recognition in bonobos. Scientific Reports, 6, 22046.  https://doi.org/10.1038/srep22046.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  30. Lemasson, A., Hausberger, M., & Zuberbühler, K. (2005). Socially meaningful vocal plasticity in adult Campbell’s monkeys (Cercopithecus campbelli). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 119, 220–229.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7036.119.2.220.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Liu, X., Ramirez, S., Pang, P. T., Puryear, C. B., Govindarajan, A., Deisseroth, K., & Tonegawa, S. (2012). Optogenetic stimulation of a hippocampal engram activates fear memory recall. Nature, 484, 381.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11028. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/nature11028#supplementary-information.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. Marzluff, J. M., Walls, J., Cornell, H. N., Withey, J. C., & Craig, D. P. (2010). Lasting recognition of threatening people by wild American crows. Animal Behaviour, 79, 699–707.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.12.022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mateo, J. M., & Johnston, R. E. (2000). Retention of social recognition after hibernation in Belding’s ground squirrels. Animal Behaviour, 59(3), 491–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Matthews, S., & Snowdon, C. T. (2011). Long-term memory for calls of relatives in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Journal of Comparative Psychology, 125, 366–369.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0023149.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. McComb, K., Moss, C., Sayailel, S., & Baker, L. (2000). Unusually extensive networks of vocal recognition in African elephants. Animal Behaviour, 59, 1103–1109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McComb, K., Reby, D., Baker, L., Moss, C., & Sayailel, S. (2003). Long distance communication of acoustic cues to social identity in African elephants. Animal Behaviour, 65, 317–329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Murai, C., Tanaka, M., Tomonaga, M., & Sakagami, M. (2011). Long-term visual recognition of familiar persons, peers, and places by young monkeys (Macaca fuscata). Developmental Psychobiology, 53, 732–737.  https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.20548.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Pitcher, B. J., Harcourt, R. G., & Charrier, I. (2010). The memory remains: Long-term vocal recognition in Australian sea lions. Animal Cognition, 13, 771–776.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-010-0322-0.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Poe, G. R. (2017). Sleep is for forgetting. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37(3), 464. Retrieved from http://www.jneurosci.org/content/37/3/464.abstract.  https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0820-16.2017.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  40. Rasmussen, L. E. L. (1995). Evidence for long-term chemical memory in elephants. Chemical Senses, 20, 762.Google Scholar
  41. Rasmussen, L. E. L., & Krishnamurthy, V. (2000). How chemical signals integrate Asian elephant society: The known and the unknown. Zoo Biology, 19, 405–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ruch, S., Markes, O., Duss, S. B., Oppliger, D., Reber, T. P., Koenig, T., … Henke, K. (2012). Sleep stage II contributes to the consolidation of declarative memories. Neuropsychologia, 50(10), 2389–2396. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0028393212002588.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.06.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ryan, T. J., Roy, D. S., Pignatelli, M., Arons, A., & Tonegawa, S. (2015). Engram cells retain memory under retrograde amnesia. Science, 348(6238), 1007. Retrieved from http://science.sciencemag.org/content/348/6238/1007.abstract.  https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa5542.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Sayigh, L. S., Tyack, P. L., Wells, R. S., Solow, A. R., Scott, M. D., & Irvine, A. B. (1998). Individual recognition in wild bottlenose dolphins: A field test using playback experiments. Animal Behaviour, 57, 41–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Spaniol, J., Madden, D. J., & Voss, A. (2006). A diffusion model analysis of adult age differences in episodic and semantic long-term memory retrieval. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 32(1), 101–117.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.32.1.101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wood, R., Baxter, P., & Belpaeme, T. (2012). A review of long-term memory in natural and synthetic systems. Adaptive Behavior, 20(2), 81–103.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1059712311421219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Integrative BiologyOklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kenneth Leising
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas Christian UniversityForth WorthUSA