Human Memory

Memory by Steven T.

For all the things that we humans are capable to do, our brain controls to what we do. From the things that we have learned through, school, experiences, practices, or whatever it may be, those informations are gathered together into our mind. As humans live and grow, more informations are collected into our memory.

What is memory? According to "Exploring Psychology", memory is defined as, "learning that has persisted over time, information that has been stored and can be retrieved". There are two major types of memory. First, short-term memory: activated memory that holds a few items briefly, such as the seven digits of a phone number while dialing, before the information is stored or forgotten; And long-term memory, the relatively permanent and limitless storehouse of the memory system. This includes knowledge, skills, and experiences.

Our process of memory simply works in three ways: 1. (encoding) - information received into the brain, 2. (storage) - retain the informations, 3. (retrieval) - send out those informations.

- Encoding -

*We may not realize it, but a lot of the times our brain perceive numerous amount of details with little or no effort at all. This is known as automatically processing. Automatically processing is unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time, and frequency, and of well-learned information, such as word meanings. When we look at the things around us, we encode all aspects and those things are embedded in our process of memory. Whether it's tables, chairs, buildings, cars, roads, those everyday objects that we see repetitively practices our brain to store and recall them. The keyword here is repetition. What do athletes do in order to obtain their skills? They do so by practicing their weaknesses, repetitively. As repetition goes on, the brain connections tend to increase and become stronger, making the encoding of those materials a part of our memory.
According to "Exploring Psychology", it states that, "Our earliest memories - probably of something that happened at age 3 or 4 - involve visual imagery. This is the beginning of our learning comprehension. Visual encoding can help us recall many moments through the good times and the worst times of our life. Though, it is useful to remember slight harder things such as formulas, definitions, and dates.

*This video will test your visual encoding:


*So how are we able to store informations into the brain? What it is it that give us the ability to recall words or pictures that we have just seen or heard a few seconds earlier? In the book "Exploring Psychology", a researcher named George Sperling was mentioned about his experiment. It stated, "Sperling asked people to do something similar when he showed them three rows of three letters each for only 1/20th of a second. After the nine letters disappeared, people could recall only about half of them". Roger concluded that people could see all the letter, but only momentarily. This conclusion led to a term on what is called iconic memory. In the textbook, iconic memory is defined as, "a momentary sensory memory of visual stimuli; a photographic or picture-image memory lasting no more than a few tenths of a second". By using iconic memory, we are able to recognize places we have never been to. We may not remember every details of it, but most likely the things that grab our attention will help us recall our memory. We humans are also capable of remembering given words after 3 or 4 seconds through auditory. This is called echoic memory. Echoic memory is defined, "a momentary sensory memory of auditory stimuli; if attention is elsewhere, sounds and elsewhere, sounds and words can still be recalled within 3 or 4 seconds". People would often give out telephone numbers, notes, lectures, or something little for us to remember. Through listening, we can encode, and store those informations into brain about 3 or 4 seconds after being said.

How are memories stored? Generally, memories are stored by flashbacks. Flashbacks can occur unintentionally or when sudden events, words or objects come along the way. They trigger the brain's stimulation that can cause different emotions depending on the memory. Some may be a pleasant flashback, those moments that we would all cherish and keep. There are others that are depressants, causing sad emotions. In the brain, increased synaptic efficiency means more efficient neural circuits. As the circuits strengthened and bonded altogehter, long-term potentiation occurs. This is an increase in a synapse's firing potential after brief, rapid stimulation.


*After the storing of every information and details we have encoded and received, it is time for retrieval. Recalling the stuff that we have perceived, we are able to perform our everyday tasks. Some may take little effort walking, throwing a ball, talking that gets the motor cortex running. Others require a lot of cognitive and comprehension in depths, affecting much of the cerebellum in the brain. How we perform these tasks are results from repetition. Going back from encoding informations into the brain, performance will all matter in practicing repetitively. Sometimes, we may experienced a similar, if not, exact events from previous times. This is called dé·jà vu. Dé·jà vu is defined, "that eerie sense that 'I have experienced this before.' Cues from the current situation may subconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier experience". About two-thirds of us have experienced this feeling and it is natural.

Works Cited
[(("Exploring Psychology". David G. Myersl))]

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