How Does Your Memory Work? September 30 2014, 0 Comments

Right this second you’re reading words on a computer screen. 

Three and a half minutes ago maybe you were contemplating the implications of the Dark Matter Theory…or chatting with a friend about your weekend plans….or maybe you were pretending to listen to your co-worker talk about the weather.

Whatever happened three and a half minutes ago, you remember it happened because of a few billion, well-timed neurons firing in your brain. Let’s talk about what those few billion neurons are up to.

Memory is defined as the process in which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved [1]. It is an extremely complex process involving many parts of the brain; the first step is collecting information from our surroundings.

ENCODING

Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly receiving information from your surroundings. When you go for a jog your eyes perceive certain shapes and colors, your feet perceive pressure and touch, and your nose perceives smells like your neighbor’s freshly mowed lawn.

Raw sensory information from the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) is then relayed through electrical impulses to the brain. Information arrives first through the brain stem and then onto the thalamus. The Thalamus acts as a relay station for the rest of the brain’s sensory lobes.

Each bit of information is processed in its respective sensory lobe (Eye sight is sent to the visual cortex, smell to the piriform cortex, etc.). Once the information is processed, it is sent to the prefrontal cortex, which is where the information finally becomes available to our conscious thoughts. This immediately becomes part of our short-term memory, which ranges from several seconds to minutes [2].

STORING

In order for a memory to become a long-term memory, the information must pass from the prefrontal cortex to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for breaking down the information provided by the prefrontal cortex and sorting it into different categories.

Instead of placing each memory sequentially in order of when they occurred in one part of the brain, memories are stored throughout the brain in several locations. Although scientists don’t know perfectly the process through which information is stored in different parts of the brain, they do know that the brain divides the information to be more efficient.

For example, emotional memories are stored in the amygdala, words are stored in the temporal lobe and colors and visual information is stored in the occipital lobe.

Scientists have found more than 20 different categories of memories stored in different areas of the brain including Plants, colors, numbers, body parts, animals, proper names, nouns, letters, nouns, verbs and facial expressions.

Because everyone thinks differently, we all store memories differently. If a mathematician and a Journalist were to both read this article, chances are that they will store different elements of the information in different parts of their brain.

Through our own personal experiences our brains learn how to file away certain bits of information effectively.

RETRIEVING

After information is sorted throughout the brain, memories can be triggered from any of the senses. The smell of freshly cut grass, or the sounds of the ocean can bring a rush of feelings, words, images, and emotions right back to the forefront of your mind.

Although our brains are incapable of remembering everything, studies show that increased attention and focus during the encoding phase of memory can help you retrieve information.

However, increased attention during the retrieval process does not aid much in the ability to recall certain information.

Many people today are turning to brain exercises, techniques and proper brain nutrition in order to increase their memory. Countless research studies have been conducted within recent years detailing proven methods for improving memory.

Visit our homepage to learn more about studies conducted on the ingredients contained within SmartX.

 

 

[1] "Memory." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

[2] Kaku, Michio. The Future of the Mind. the Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind. New York: Doubleday, a Division of Random House, LLC, 2014. Print.