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Improve your memory power- Part 1; memory - some facts

Updated on December 17, 2012

What is memory?

When something happens in your life or when you learn something, your brain makes an evaluation of it. If the information is important, the brain will save it and it is called memory. It is just like saving a file in a computer folder.
Brain is not just a single piece. On the contrary, it is a combination of many parts. The various parts of the brain perform various functions. Some of the parts are important for memory. The hippo campus is one of the important parts of the brain that is related with memories. Memories are processed and stored away in different areas of the cerebral cortex. It is also called the “gray matter” of the brain. Moreover, it is the largest, outermost part of the brain.

Importance of memory

Cicero says, “Memory is the treasure and guardian of all things.” We may not understand the importance of this comment easily. To understand that we should imagine what would happen to us, If we lost our memory. Can you just stop think of it for a few seconds? It is very difficult to imagine that you just don’t remember your parents, brothers, sisters and friends. How painful it would be if you couldn’t recollect your own name or various experiences? How depressing it would be to know that you are not able to recognize the dear and near ones? In other words, your life as a human being is meaningful only because you remember various developments in your life.
Some psychologists tell us that the memory as such cannot be improved. However, there are numerous psychologists who disagree with them, They have enough and more proofs to explain that human memory can be kept fresh always. It is also a fact that the effective methods of learning can improve one’s memory power.

Short term & Long term memory

Human memory can be classified into two: short term memory and long term memory.
Short term memory: It is what holds your attention at this particular moment. Experts say that ordinary people can hold only seven items of information in the short term memory. For example, suppose you want to remember some phone numbers for a few moment. What you can remember is just seven of them. If the try to remember more than that, they will often forget the “middle” items.
Moreover, such pieces of information exist in memory only for a limited period. If you want those numbers to be remembered and recollected later, they will have to be transferred from term memory to long term memory. It is also called ‘working memory’ because it remembers the information ‘in use’.
Long term memory: When an ordinary person refers to ‘memory’, he really means this - long term memory. It includes everything you know and can recall. once information is saved in your long term memory has mainly two advantages. Firstly, it is very vast and almost unlimited. This memory has the capacity to store unlimited range of information. The second advantage is that the information saved in this memory, exists for a very long time.
The psychologists have put forward two ways to move information from short-term memory to long term memory. The first method is learning through repetition. It is a kind of mechanical process. And therefore, it requires very little understanding. For example, remember how students learn multiplication tables. There is practically nothing to understand, but to by heart. The second method is learning through understanding. In this method, the relationship between ideas is understood. this understanding helps one to remember a piece of information. Suppose you have attended a lecture. When you recollect the various ideas you got from the lecture, you have actually used this method. You are able to recollect the ideas just because you understand the concept and relations. Now the question arises - which is better? In fact both types of learning and memory are useful. A person usually uses both of them together.

Imperfections in memory

There is no doubt that memory is a wonderful part of man. It will be very painful to have a life without memory. But one thing is sure - it does have a life without memory. But one thing is sure - it does have a few imperfections. Though it is wonderful, It is not always perfect . Sometimes it happens that you forget the name of some one familiar to you. You have it at the tip of your tongue, but you are not able to speak it out. How strange it is! At times you go all around your room or house in search of the keys or shoes. You just forget where you have put them. More amazingly, you have forgotten one answer! You studied it, but.....
It’s also common for older people to forget more. Therefore, it is certain that there does exist some memory problems. Though some of them are common, they can become serious and dangerous. The most serious one is Alzheimer’s disease. Another danger is stroke. A stroke is when blood doesn’t reach all the parts of the brain. It can happen either because of a blockage or of the bursting of a blood vessel. Sometimes such stokes can affect one’s memory power.
An injury to brain can also cause trouble with a person’s memory. In medical history there are many such cases. Sometimes, those who recover from brain injuries forget even the basic thing. They may have to learn the simple things like talking, dressing etc. all over again. You might have noticed how persons involved in dangerous sports or works protect their head, wearing helmet. The intention is to avoid head injury that could be completely destructive. Now you understand why it is compulsory to wear seat belt while driving or helmet while riding a bike.
Amnesia is another problem that affects memory. When affected by this, one cannot remember things happened while ago. Traumatic brain injury is the major cause of amnesia. It happens when the head suffers a severe hit. Usually when a footballer receives a hit to the head, he is questioned by the doctor. The patient will be asked a few basic questions like what happened in the ground, where they are, for what team he was playing etc. If he fails to give the right answers, it would mean a head injury. Use of drugs and alcohols also can injure the brain and cause memory problems.

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