Remembering what makes us human
Published: Sunday, March 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 3, 2013 22:03
Memory is an important aspect of the working brain. It enables us to remember faces, dates, times, sounds, colors, pain, emotions, thoughts, words, numbers and thousands of other details.
The process of acquiring memories involves the whole brain and all of its associated structures. Completing an action (such as rock climbing or listening attentively) requires the brain’s structures to work as team to complete a task.
When an event happens, the brain also encourages the remembrance of sights, sounds, smells and emotions. The brain also enables a person to recall details when a certain area of the brain is stimulated. The original patterns of memory formation are reactivated to enhance or overwrite the memory.
The brain can be thought of as intertwined complex of highways, where signals can be sent to encode, transfer or activate different areas of the brain. The highways, which are known as neurons, allow signals to be sent to and from different areas of the brain. After the memories have traveled the highways once, the route can be repeated for memory retrieval.
There are three memory processes that make it possible to remember aspects of daily life, which include encoding, storage and retrieval.
During first stage there is a period of time during which the brain determines significant details about a person’s surroundings and makes sense of them. Information about each person’s environment is translated into information the brain can understand.
It is during this stage that signals are taken in through the body’s sensory system. These systems exist in the body to collect information related to the visual, emotions, thought, sight and taste.
After the encoding stage is the storage stage. During this stage, the information is maintained for a period of time. But for certain memories, this may be a limited according to the brain’s capacity to capture and store information.
The third stage of memory is the retrieval stage, and during this stage memories may be recalled for future use. The brain is able to use memories by assigning meaning and purpose to them so that they are relative to each unique individual and his or her thought process.
As a people go throughout their days, they maintain various amounts of information in their brains. It can often become difficult to remember everything.
Because of this, it is important to study a subject over a long-time period, or to write down appointments and assignments.
Writing a to-do list can help eliminate the carousel of thoughts running through the brain at any moment in time, which can encourage better time management.
The three different types of memory storage that are available include sensory, short and long-term memory.
When one is studying to remember details, the person’s memories go into long-term memory (especially when they are learned early).
When a person attempts to remember all the data that he or she needs for a particular situation, it seems like a good idea for the brain to store the information in short-term memory for recall.
But, in reality, short-term memory can only last for a total of 24 hours.
Learning requires that we add information to our memory over a long period of time — giving the brain the ability to reorganize and place the information where appropriate. This will allow a person to recall information during significant time frames.
Sensory memory can run along with the long and short term memories.
Certain sensory systems can be reactivated according to their memory type. Sensory memories can also be recalled by certain smells, sensations or sights (e.g. seeing one event and associating it with another event or thought from earlier in life).
An individual is able to readily associate aspects of his or her life with everyday events, and this allows them to empathize with the lives of other people.
Taking in information, being able to store the information and then having the ability to recall the information — whether doing so in order to remember data, or impact someone else’s life in a positive way — is what makes us all … Human.