Semantic memory includes generalized knowledge that does not involve memory of a specific event. For instance, semantic memory is knowing how to add and subtract, whereas episodic memory is the specific memory of being taught how to subtract.
The idea of semantic memory was first introduced following a conference in 1972 between Endel Tulving, of the University of Toronto, and W. Donaldson on the role of organization in human memory. Tulving constructed a proposal to distinguish between episodic memory and what he termed semantic memory. He was mainly influenced by the ideas of Reiff and Scheers, who in 1959 made the distinction between two primary forms of memory. One form titled remembrances and the other memoria. The remembrance concept dealt with memories that contained the experiences of an autobiographic index, whereas the memoria’ concept dealt with those memories without the experiences of an autobiographic index. Semantic memory was to reflect our knowledge of the world around us. It holds generic information that is more than likely acquired across various contexts and is able to be used across different situations. According to Madigan in his book titled Memory, semantic memory is the sum of all knowledge you have obtained- whether it be your vocabulary, understanding of math, and all the facts you know. The use of semantic memory is quite different from that of episodic memory. Semantic memory refers to general facts and meanings we share with others whereas episodic memory refers to unique and concrete personal experiences. Tulving's proposal of this distinction between semantic and episodic memory was widely accepted mainly because it allowed the separate conceptualization of knowledge of the world. Tulving discusses these separate systems of conceptualization of episodic and semantic memory in his book titled Elements of Episodic Memory. He states that both episodic and semantic memory differ in regards to several factors including:
- the characteristics of their operations,
- the kind of information they process, and
- their application to the real world as well as the memory laboratory.
semantic memory is a experience memory in our life starting from our birth until the end of life andcan give affect to concept-based knowledge.