Iconic memory can be defined with a simple example. When your friend shows you a book and you happen to see the same online, even accidentally, you will say something like “Ah! That’s exactly what I saw” and remember the book you originally saw. Well, this is known as iconic memory. You see it, your brain analyzes it and puts it either in the short-term memory or long-term memory. Keep reading to learn more about the iconic memory.

What are the Parts of the Iconic Memory?

There are three major sections involved in iconic memory: the visuospatial sketchpad, the phonological loop and the central executive. The visuospatial sketchpad stores visual information (for example, a photograph). The loop stores information like words and numbers. The central executive performs the most important work of connecting them both.

3 Characteristics of an Iconic Memory

The following are the characteristics of iconic memory.

Smooth View

It provides you a smooth view as well as memory of whatever you’ve seen during the times when you continuously blink your eyes (saccadic eye movement).

Change Blindness

Due to blinking of eyes, you technically will not be seeing the view completely. This is known as change blindness. In simple words, if a scene is presented with respect to what you would have seen if you didn’t have an interstimulus interval, you can easily detect the differences.


The new stimuli does not erase the preceding stimuli and this is why you are able to have an integrated visual information along with a continuous stream of images. The best example is watching a movie.

4 Interesting Facts About Iconic Memory

1. It is present since the time of birth and by the age of 6 months, a child will have memory capacity equivalent to that of an average adult, including that of echoic memory.

2. The visual persistence decreases mildly with growing age. This is why old people have trouble relating to memories.

3. At age 5, the duration of informational persistence increases from 200ms till 1000ms at the age of 11 years.

4. The deficiency in the iconic memory can contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Quick tip: if you have trouble in remembering things that you have seen, especially those which you have paid close attention to, you might be suffering from short-term memory loss, which happens due to the deficiency in iconic memory. It is important to get checked immediately by a therapist or psychologist as soon as possible. To determine the depth of seriousness, you will be asked to give a memory test, following which you will be medicated accordingly.

More Reasons Why Iconic Memory is Important

Iconic memory deals with those memories relating to vision and is a major part in day to day life. Deficiency in iconic memory can lead to conditions like Alzheimer’s, and thus it is very important to take care of your health to help maintain big brain time activities. Iconic memory can be improved along with improving the other sensory memories, through yoga and a proper diet.

In short, with good lifestyle and adequate care given to enhance the iconic memory, you will not have many problems at any part of your life.