According to Lauralee Sherwoodmemory is vital to experiences, it is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action. The notion of information is vital because it is the faculty of the brain by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved when needed. It is therefore of utmost importance to understand these three terms in order to fully grasp the techniques of maximizing the use of our memory.
The 21st century has experienced the greatest increase in knowledge ever in human history. The Industrial revolution coupled with the great strides in technology and science in general have tremendously influenced the ways of acquiring and processing information. It goes without saying that the main function of the human brain in this process, the memory, has also drawn considerable amount of interest because of its vast potential which is yet to be fully grasped.
It is with great humility that I have decided to approach this issue in this article, the goal being first to make it easy for everyone to understand a rather complex topic, and secondly to equip anyone who learns to acquire these revolutionary techniques of knowledge acquisition which are all made possible thanks to a proper use and training of our memory.
Let us therefore first consider how information is recorded in the memory. It is done through encoding, storing before being retrieved by our memory.
Encoding is the process of converting information from the outside world into mental recitation. When the brain perceives an item of interest it would like to use, it encodes it for future use. This can take the form of short term memory, long term memory or working memory when the information is needed for immediate use.
Encoding information is crucial because it ultimately determines our actions when and where the information is needed. Failing to remember someone’s name after being introduced to the person simply means that we failed to encode his name in the long term memory where information last longer. Both the short term memory and the working memory are weak when it comes to remembering information because they store information for immediate use through association with items already existing in the long term memory. It therefore goes without saying that long term memory is crucial in storing information that one does not want to lose.
Long term memory is the final stage of our “information storage system”. The sensory or short term memory can only store information for 30 seconds. If that information is deemed necessary, it is filtered and stored in the working memory which can only store for about 1 minute and 30 seconds. It is only when that information has “passed the test” of the working memory that it can be stored in the long term memory which has unlimited capacities. The working memory capacity is limited because it can only retain 7 things for less than 30 seconds. As a matter of fact, the long term memory can store 100,000 billion pieces of information. Although long term memory can also get rid of information as fast as short term memory, it has ways of organizing it for future use.
Retrieval is the reconstruction of stored information by stimulating the neurons used to encode it. It is important to note that the information retrieved is usually altered. The process of retrieving information constitutes the foundation of many research endeavours in our present age because the vast amount of information that our memory can store does not somehow match with the display of memory potential that most people demonstrate. It therefore goaes with saying that acquiring the techniques for a maximum use of our memory could usher our present covilization into a century of unprencedented discoveries.
If every athlete who went into a competition considered the previous records as an unbeateable achievement, no past records would ever have been challenged. Knowledge acquisition is definitely going to be the area where past records will be difficult to keep because of the great strides that are being made in this field. It is our goal in this website to equip the masses to acquire such techniques in order to empower them.