The principal ideas about human memory

Feb 15 08:19 2010 Charles Parker Print This Article

This article discusses the structure of human memory and how we remember things (or not).  You will learn about the stages of memory and how a fleeting perception is incorporated into the memory structure for future recall.  These ideas are important because aging is becoming a major topic of discussion in our society, and brain health is critical to successful living in the later years of life.

There are generally three stages in human memory: sensory memory,Guest Posting short-term memory, and long-term memory.Sensory memory notes what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Quite simply, it captures things that you "sense." Sensory memory is quite limited. Unless you pass it into short-term memory, it disappears the second your experience is concluded. For example, consider seeing. We see hundreds of things during most waking minutes. However, unless your awareness is captured by something you see, it is erased whenever something else attracts your focus.Short-term memory is maintained a little longer; in fact, as long as you give thought to something, you can maintain it in short-term memory. It might be a the telephone number that you have been repeating constantly until you are able to jot it down, or the look of a blossom. It will continue to be available in your memory as long as you actively think about it. Should you stop attending to to it, it will be cleared after only 10-20 seconds. To be able to remember something after that, the brain is required to transfer it to long-term memory. The process of repeating a phone number is, actually a way of passing the number from short-term to long-term memory.Like sensory memory, the amount of information one can retain in short-term memory is very limited. The standard rule is that only five to nine items of information can be in short-term memory simultaneously. This is why short-term memory is so "short." Every time you take note of a fresh bit of data that originates from sensory memory, you have to push out something that had your notice previously. For instance, if a perception interrupts your focus on the telephone number before you rehearse it into long-term memory, it will get shoved out and you will have to look it up again!Typically, whenever we refer to memory, we have long-term memory in mind. Long-term memory can keep a essentially unrestricted quantity of data. Long-term memory consists of perceptions and concepts that vary from a few minutes old to the very first weeks of life. Long­-term memory is like the massive hard drive of a big computer where unlimited knowledge can be filed for a lifetime. It is this memory that we build our ideas and experiences on, and ideally bring it back to focus if we need it.If this seems complicated - it is! Amazingly, our brains generally achieve it without a problem. With this foundation, we will explore a question that occurs to most people on occasion: Exactly what is the distinction between what you know and what you know how to do?People have two types of long-term memory: Declarative and Procedural. "Declarative" memory is the memory of concepts or occurrences. "Procedural" memory is remembering how to do things. The words themselves help us remember which is which; "declarative memory" makes it possible to express something, or "declare." "Procedural memory" helps us to do something - to "proceed." Procedural memory is oftentimes difficult to discuss, or express. However, even if we can't describe the way in which we do something, we can normally use our memory of it without even consciously thinking about it. Procedural learning and recall are used in things like buttoning a shirt, learning to swing a golf club, learning to play a guitar or learning to swim. You can easily drive a car from place to place every day without thinking about the actual driving process most of the time, and be absolutely secure. Once a "procedure" has been rehearsed mentally or practiced physically until it is securely in long-term memory, it is normally very permanent. For example, people frequently notice that you can continue to ride a bicycle many years after the last time you did it!Finally, one more level of complication. Declarative memory comes in two "flavors": "semantic memory" and "episodic memory." Semantic memory is theoretical or abstract memory. It is independent of time and space. It is a chunk of data. For example, realizing that an apple is called a "fruit" is a semantic memory. Knowing that two plus two equals four is also semantic memory. You can recollect it, state it, you understand it, and you can utilize it to count things, nonetheless the memory does not depict something actual or specific.Episodic memory, however, is factual knowledge rooted in personalized experience in some explicit point in time and place. It really is a thing that took place or a situation you sensed. For instance, when you're thinking of peering over Niagara Falls when you visited it during a vacation, you are recalling an episodic memory. A further example: You can declare, "When we were at the market this morning, Bob got two apples and Mary bought two apples, so altogether we came home with four apples." You are using semantic memory to apply math to four specific apples you remember seeing, which is an episodic memory, or the memory of an "episode" that you experienced.These terms and principles are important due to the fact that the different types of memory are formed and recorded by the brain in different ways and in several brain areas. They are subject to enhancement or impairment in various ways, as well. For instance, not all kinds of memories are impacted by aging in the same way. Investigations are beginning to indicate that an increasing number of people will live to 100 years of age. This can be good news or bad news, depending on the standard of living you expect to have and preparations for later years. As you continue to study and learn about memory, remember these elementary ideas that will help set your fresh awareness and "memories" into context.For more information on this and other topics of interest to senior citizens, see our website Going Strong Seniors!For recreational and entertainment opportunities see Senior Fun!Want to know more about aging and brain health?  Click the link!

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About Article Author

Charles Parker
Charles Parker

Charles Parker is a teacher and writer.  He specializes in the psychology of aging.  He is dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life for seniors by means of memory enhancement, improved health, technology and having fun.  He has taught at every education level from kindergarten to university, including designing and teaching computer and Internet classes for seniors citizens. Mr. Parker is a contributor to Going Strong Seniors, a leading Internet resource for senior citizens.  He invites you to click on the link and take advantage of the great information and programs available there.

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