Quick Guide: How your Brain Stores Memories
Life is getting more complicated by the minute. There’s so much information to process these days that it’s easy to lose track of everything we’re supposed to know. This essentially means that having a good memory is a skill that is integral to survival in the information age. However, have you ever stopped to think about what memory is, and how it develops? Every experience we go through generates a memory. How long our memories actually last depends on how often we revisit them, and whether or not we meditate on them at all. The brain has several intricate neurons that allow memories to form, strengthen, or fade away, depending on whether we actually make an effort to recall them, and reinforce them routinely.
What is Memory?
A memory is formed when a group of neurons fires in a specific pattern in response to stimulation caused by new experiences. Once these neural patterns have been triggered, our brains naturally encode and archive them in different lobes so that we can access the patterns once again in order to make decisions. The neural patterns which constitute memory can either be stored in short term memory, or in long-term memory. Ultimately, whether or not a human being remembers something permanently depends on how often we access the neural patterns encoded in the lobes of our brains. That’s why the infamous phrase “practice makes perfect” applies, for example. If someone taught you the alphabet only once in your entire life, you would probably forget it in a matter of minutes. But reading and writing over and over again for years in school allowed you to access your memories of the alphabet so often that you can now use alphanumeric symbols to express yourself in a variety of complex ways.
How to Boost Memory
The secret to improving your memory skills and strengthening your brain lies in leveraging short term memory. Short term memory can be thought of as the reservoir your brain uses to temporarily hold information while determining whether to filter it out or archive it in your long-term memory. Whenever something enters into your short-term memory, practice recalling it the same way that you would when learning how to read in school. Strictly speaking, the human brain is defined as an organ of the body. But in truth, it acts more like a muscle. In order for the brain to grow, it has to be flexed and exercised. The more actively you practice recalling new information therefore, the more accustomed your brain will become to efficiently encoding and retrieving the neural patterns established by new information you want to remember.
It’s all too easy to neglect our memories in this digital age, especially considering that many of us can easily Google the things we either don’t know or forget. Though it seems tedious, memorization is an important habit to adopt for many practical reasons. Exercising your brainpower disciplines the mind and makes it more focused. In turn, the more focused your mind is, the more productive you can be. What you retain in your memory also informs how you think about things, and it helps you understand concepts more quickly. By actively practicing memorization, you can vastly increase your memory power.