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How Memory Works

To better understand why our memory sometimes falters, we need to understand how memory works. Information is not stored in a single area of your mind, but are scattered over various regions. You can think of your brain as an area containing various storage bins. Each time you collect a piece of information, you brain decides how to categorize it and then what bin to drop it into. The next time you go looking for those facts, your brain then at least has an idea of what bin it placed it in.

How Memory Works

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How Does Your Memory Work?

For example, you may store the name of a person you just met several moments ago in your recent memory right along side what you had for breakfast this morning. Your brain also has a different “storage bin” for long-term items, such as knowledge acquired years ago or your memories of childhood. It also has a different storage bin for short-term facts, that information that you need at the moment, but you may not need tomorrow or even later in the day.

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You’d be surprised how early in life that you begin to lose brain cells. This phenomenon occurs as early as your 20s. This is when your body manufactures less of the certain chemicals that are essential to the ideal functioning of your memory.

There are several logical reasons, besides aging that you may forget certain things. Let’s say you misplaced a piece of paper. You’ll get a fuller appreciation for the complexity of the human memory once you realize everything that goes into retrieving this information. While this may seem to be a single action, it’s really a series of smaller steps. You brain first retrieves the name of the object, in this case the paper, and then its shape, function and other physical qualities associated with it. In other words, your brain is reconstructing the entire image of that paper from various areas or “storage bins” of the brain.

Why Can’t I Remember?

Memory experts explain that there are three reasons that may explain why you can’t remember where you left it. First, you may not have clearly registered, or taken notice, of where you laid that paper down. Second, if you did register it in your brain, you failed to retain it. Finally, you may have registered and retained where that important paper is, but you aren’t able to retrieve it.

If you want to remember where you put your piece of paper or your keys, you’ll need to make an extra effort at going through all three stages of the memory process.

Forgetting may be as simple as failing to encode the action properly. Perhaps you were distracted at the moment that encoding process would have been taking place. Don’t blame yourself, if the location of the paper never actually found its way into your memory in the first place.



Rocket Lawyer

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24 Comments

  1. This was so interesting to read. My Memory definitely isn’t what it was a few years ago!

  2. This was so interesting to read. My memory definitely wasn’t what it was a few years ago!

  3. This is really interesting. I never thought about memory like this before.

  4. Such a great informative read. The brain is such an interesting complex especially when it comes to memories!

  5. I have always being interested in ways to improve my memory retention. So glad I came across your post! Great information

  6. coool. thanks for sharing this information. <3 our brain needs to go thru stagest before memory is fully registered…

  7. The mind is so interesting. I feel like I am forgetful sometimes but I do work on muscle memory.

  8. This is quite an interesting read that I enjoyed. The mind works in mysterious ways and is quite complicated.

  9. Very good information. I had no idea. I also worry about memory issues as I’m getting older.

  10. Melanie williams says:

    This makes complete sense. I an see why you lose brain cells in your early 20s for sure xx

  11. I definitely need this memory kit. I have the WORST memory! Sometimes I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast. It’s really sad.

  12. This brings me back to med school. It also matters more to me now as my dad is having significant problems with his memory. I started thinking about how to help my brain as much as I can! Cool article!

  13. Great article. I’m surprised to read that this is how memory worked! Very interesting topic, the brain is fascinating.

  14. I love how you refer to it as “encoding” this makes a lot of sense, being absentminded while putting something down and really having my mind elsewhere is certainly what makes me forget whenre I left something.

  15. This is a facinating article!
    Now one I usually would read, but I really enjoyed it 🙂

  16. Hihi….this piece brought back good memories of psychology school. This was one of my favourite sub-topics under memory.

  17. I feel that I’m losing some brain cells. I am currently sharpening my memory skills by writing or playing mind games such as chess. It’s really a fact!

  18. Ever since I got pregnant with my oldest, my memory has been awful! I can remember ridiculous things like songs from 1982 but I can’t remember where I left something.

  19. This is very interesting. The human brain is amazing.

  20. That’s sad when people start loosing memory, especially when they are still young. It can be very distressing. Great article, thanks.

  21. This is yet again an amazing article. You write so many useful posts. I honestly didn’t know this is how memory worked. It is fascinating there are multiple stages of memory. If I can’t remember where I put my keys, I must go through the three unique stages. That is one thing that I believe can help. Although the other day I was wondering where I put my sunglasses only to find out that they are on my head.

  22. Human brain is such a fascinating topic! I try to exercise my memory daily, but I’m still easily forgetting some unimportant things, because I focus too much on other stuff 🙈 Sometimes my thoughts are more important than where I’m leaving an object at the moment and I don’t even register it happening.

  23. This is some great memorie information. I also thought that memorys were like that. Like little category boxes

  24. It is very interesting how memory works. Short term vs. long term, I always like learning new things. Thanks for sharing this information!

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