In psychology, encoding (or memory encoding) is considered the first of three stages in the memory process. The second and third stages are storage and retrieval.

In order to form a memory, the brain must process, or encode, new facts and other types of information into a storable form so that it can be recalled at a later time. There are three ways in which the brain can do this: visual coding (sight), acoustic (sound) coding and semantic (meaning) coding.

For example, when trying to remember a password, you have several options to encode the information into your memory. You could form a mental image of the number/letters in a row (visual coding), repeat it aloud over and over, perhaps in a sing-song voice (acoustic coding), or give the numbers and/or letters some type of meaning, such as “9rh” stands for “9 rabbits hopping” (semantic coding).

Finding ways to encode information is key to enhancing one’s memory. Research has shown that acoustic coding is the brain’s primary strategy for short term memory (STM), while semantic coding is the most successful strategy for long term memory (LTM).

Example: The teacher was always creating new games to help the children encode new information into their memories.