What is memory?

What is the memory?

We can all think that our most important memories in life are remembered with total clarity and that there is a perfect recording of each one of them in our minds.

According to neuroscientists, the 50% of the details of our memories change every year, even if we refer to an event very important as to affirm that it has defined our lives and therefore we come to be convinced that we remember it accurately.

If the function of memory is supposed to be to remember everything in detail, then why can't we trust it 100 x 100? How does remembering really work?

Memory measures the interactions we have with the world, which is why we always take it for granted that we will have it and we only think about its existence when it fails us.

The brain stores memories in different parts of the brain, one of them being the temporal lobe which is composed of the hippocampus, the brain amygdala and the parahippocampal region. The Hippocampus is crucial to obtain memories in the most accurate way possible since it is the one in charge of gathering all types of memory.

There are the long term memory and short term this in turn is divided into explicit (historical facts) and this is classified into: semantic, episodic and implicit.

  • Implicit memory: How to ride a bike
  • Semantic memory: Data, numbers, dates, facts
  • Episodic memory: Images, personal experiences.

Some people have better memory than others, however, we can all improve our memory if we lead a more lifestyle. healthy for example; sleeping the right hours or not drinking alcoholic beverages, eating well and meditating.

Meditation has been shown to have positive effects in increasing memory because it helps to practice concentration and this makes memory improve.

When it comes to personal experiences, emotions play a very important role as well as geographical location (place) and time. Also stories, our brain pays more attention to information when it comes in the form of a narrative.

There are different techniques that can help us improve our memory, for example, if we associate information with some structure that is already familiar to us, it will be easier for us to remember this, a learning technique widely used when children want to remember dates it is simply to insert the dates in a song that they know and when using the rhythm of the song, the letter is replaced by the data or number that they want to memorize in this case, the memory captures as if it were reading instead of memorizing numbers.

The geographical location or place can also be used as a tool to memorize numbers, dates and data; this technique is called: Memory palace and it consists of closing our eyes and imagining a familiar place and adding the data we want to remember. To remember we just have to imagine visiting that place and making the route until we reach the place where we have stored the information.

The two types of memory that are most affected by time are: emotional (or episodic) memory and day-to-day memory (short-term memory). With emotional memory we remember the central aspect but perhaps details and aspects surrounding it could be affected.

Since it is not possible to remember each specific detail of each experience, we use semantic memory to fill in data that we have forgotten. This commonly happens with episodic memory, which is why this type of memory is the most flexible, thus making it the easiest to manipulate.

When we let our mind wander, it can go from the past to the future in a matter of seconds remembering and imagining, that is why we can call our mind a time machine.

The same computer that brings elements from the past can also put other pieces together and create future scenarios, that flexibility is what differentiates us from animals.

Putting together the images of the past and dreams of the future is what allows us to create our sense of existence.


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