Information Processing Cycle | Meaning, Steps and Examples

To understand the meaning of information processing cycle and how it works, you must first learn about memory. Every human being has two types of memory: short-term and long-term memory. Information processing cycles occur when your brain processes information by utilizing long-term memory and short-term memory. The information processing cycle is a model of how the brain works. It’s a way to describe how the brain processes and stores information in memory, and how it retrieves this information for use.

Categorizing and clustering data is an integral part of information processing. Information processing is a term used to describe the analysis of data, with the goal of extracting meaning from it. The main function of the body’s information processing system is to maintain homeostasis (homeostasis is defined as balanced environment, or a state of health). Often, when we have a new idea or insight, we don’t stop and process it. We immediately get excited about the new thought and move on to the next thing. This is called the “information processing cycle.

Information processing is an academic term for how information is processed through the human brain. Before we get into why it’s important to know this, let’s discuss what it means to process information. The key to the information processing cycle is knowing how to process the data that you receive from your customers/suppliers. The four steps of the information processing cycle are: The information processing cycle is one of the most important concepts to understand in neuroscience. It’s the process that helps us learn, remember, and become better at a task.

What is Information Processing?

Information processing is the process of changing or converting information into meaningful information. It is processed, organized or classified data which is useful for the receiver. Information is the processed data which may be used “as it is” or may be put to use along with more data or information. The receiver of information takes actions and decisions based on the information received. Collected data must be processed to get meaning out of it, and this meaning is obtained in the form of information. Information processing is read as a part of other topics such as information processing theory, information visualization, information science, information technology, data science and statistics, etc. Further information is useful & meaningful only if it has these characteristics:

  • Timely − Information should be available when required, a delay in obtaining information renders it useless.
  • Accuracy − Accuracy of information has a significant impact on the decision-making. Possibilities of even slightest errors should be minimized.
  • Completeness − Information should be complete. Incomplete information causes incorrect and unintended results.
  • Comprehensive – Information which is incomprehensible is useless for the receiver. This becomes a case of information failure as the sender sent the information, but it was of no use for the receiver, thus is not considered as “information.”

Further reading: Information Processing Theories | Educational Psychology (

Information Processing in Daily Life and Examples

Information is the processed data which is of some use for humans. Information may further be processed and/or manipulated to form knowledge. Information containing wisdom is known as Knowledge. Taking an example of information processing, digits in a report card are considered as information; similarly stats, when placed in a report or used in some context, provides an understanding and meaningful information. Data collected by various input devices during surveys is meaningless unless it is processed. Good questionnaires are formed and surveys are conducted to collect data which can be processed to give useful insight. Another example can be considered as tabular data – if merely a table is constructed without the available data it might not convey the intended message, but when data mapping is done and using that data to create graphs & charts, it becomes information. Thus Information Processing is important.

Understanding Information Processing Cycle

Information processing cycle is a sequence of events consisting of Input, Processing, Storage & Output. To understand more about what is information processing cycle it is a good idea to study about data processing cycle also. These events are similar as in case of data processing cycle. For a computer to perform useful work, the computer has to receive instructions and data from the outside world. The computer receives data and instructions during the INPUT stage of the information processing cycle. Useful information results are obtained when appropriate inputs are applied to data. Applying instructions to data takes place during the PROCESSING stage of the information processing cycle. To avoid having to re-enter data and instructions or reprocess information, computers can save information. Saving information on a computer occurs during the STORAGE phase of the information processing cycle. This is followed by the result in the OUTPUT stage. Computer Processing Cycle is a similar process with similar steps by which data is fed to a computer.


Information processing cycle

Four Phases of the information processing cycle

1. Input: Computer receives data and instructions.
2. Process: Computer applies instructions to data to produce information (organized Data).
3. Storage: Saving the information for a subsequent use or use in future.
4. Output: Computer sends information to people in a usable format.

Related: Data Processing, Data Processing Methods and types, Data Mining

information processing cycle diagram

  1. INPUT – Entering data into the computer
    1. Feeding the collected raw data or data entry in the cycle for processing. This is the raw data which is supplied for processing & obtaining information.
    2. Input can be done by utilizing various input devices such as keyboards, mice, flatbed scanners, barcode readers, joysticks, digital data tablets (for graphics drawing), electronic cash registers, etc.
    3. Input process is most essential as any error in the input data or the input process will result in wrong output.
  2. PROCESSING  – Performing operations on the data
    1. Once the input is provided the raw data is processed by a suitable or selected processing method. Processing information is the most crucial step as it allows the processed data in the form of output which will be used further.
    2. Processing is usually done by CPU (Central Processing Unit) in a computer. CPU is the crucial component for getting the operations done. The speed of processing depends on the computing power and processing power of the processor.
    3. Processing can be done by using various processing softwares and computer system depending upon the requirement.
  3. STORAGE – Saving data in a soft/physical form
    1. The data which is to be fed and the output which will be generated needs to be stored. This stage is at times overlapping with the output stage since.
    2. Storage can be done on various storage devices such as external hard disk, inbuilt hard disk, data centers, pen drives, micro SD cards, compact disks or even in registers.
  4. OUTPUT – Results obtained, i.e., information
    1. This is the outcome, and the raw data provided in the first stage is now “processed,” and the data is useful and provides information and no longer called Data. This might be further used for data visualisation.
    2. This can be used as it is or used for further processing along with more data. Output device can be a paper or in form of display screen such as monitors or phone screen.

Role of Data Processing in Information Processing

Data processing is an essential part of information processing. Making use of processed information in various decision making process remains the main purpose of information processing. Processing of complex data obtained from various data sources requires sorting and filtering of data. It might also be merged with existing sources of data so as go to receive a new data set. Further analysis of these data sets helps in decision making and subsequent decisions pertaining to other aspects in a decision making process. The information being used may form a part of short term memory or long term memory of overall process.

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