The principal ideas about human memory

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There are generally three stages in human memory: sensory memory,
short-term memory, and long-term memory.Sensory memory notes
what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Quite simply, it captures
things that you “sense.” Sensory memory is quite limited. Unless you
pass it into short-term memory, it disappears the second your experience
is concluded. For example, consider seeing. We see hundreds of things
during most waking minutes. However, unless your awareness is captured
by something you see, it is erased whenever something else attracts your
focus.Short-term memory is maintained a little longer; in fact,
as long as you give thought to something, you can maintain it in
short-term memory. It might be a the telephone number that you have been
repeating constantly until you are able to jot it down, or the look of a
blossom. It will continue to be available in your memory as long as you
actively think about it. Should you stop attending to to it, it will be
cleared after only 10-20 seconds. To be able to remember something
after that, the brain is required to transfer it to long-term memory.
The process of repeating a phone number is, actually a way of passing
the number from short-term to long-term memory.Like sensory
memory, the amount of information one can retain in short-term memory is
very limited. The standard rule is that only five to nine items of
information can be in short-term memory simultaneously. This is why
short-term memory is so “short.” Every time you take note of a fresh bit
of data that originates from sensory memory, you have to push out
something that had your notice previously. For instance, if a perception
interrupts your focus on the telephone number before you rehearse it
into long-term memory, it will get shoved out and you will have to look
it up again!Typically, whenever we refer to memory, we have
long-term memory in mind. Long-term memory can keep a essentially
unrestricted quantity of data. Long-term memory consists of perceptions
and concepts that vary from a few minutes old to the very first weeks of
life. Long­-term memory is like the massive hard drive of a big
computer where unlimited knowledge can be filed for a lifetime. It is
this memory that we build our ideas and experiences on, and ideally
bring it back to focus if we need it.If this seems complicated –
it is! Amazingly, our brains generally achieve it without a problem.
With this foundation, we will explore a question that occurs to most
people on occasion: Exactly what is the distinction between what you
know and what you know how to do?People have two types of
long-term memory: Declarative and Procedural. “Declarative” memory is
the memory of concepts or occurrences. “Procedural” memory is
remembering how to do things. The words themselves help us remember
which is which; “declarative memory” makes it possible to express
something, or “declare.” “Procedural memory” helps us to do something –
to “proceed.” Procedural memory is oftentimes difficult to discuss, or
express. However, even if we can’t describe the way in which we do
something, we can normally use our memory of it without even consciously
thinking about it. Procedural learning and recall are used in things
like buttoning a shirt, learning to swing a golf club, learning to play a
guitar or learning to swim. You can easily drive a car from place to
place every day without thinking about the actual driving process most
of the time, and be absolutely secure. Once a “procedure” has been
rehearsed mentally or practiced physically until it is securely in
long-term memory, it is normally very permanent. For example, people
frequently notice that you can continue to ride a bicycle many years
after the last time you did it!Finally, one more level of
complication. Declarative memory comes in two “flavors”: “semantic
memory” and “episodic memory.” Semantic memory is theoretical or
abstract memory. It is independent of time and space. It is a chunk of
data. For example, realizing that an apple is called a “fruit” is a
semantic memory. Knowing that two plus two equals four is also semantic
memory. You can recollect it, state it, you understand it, and you can
utilize it to count things, nonetheless the memory does not depict
something actual or specific.Episodic memory, however, is
factual knowledge rooted in personalized experience in some explicit
point in time and place. It really is a thing that took place or a
situation you sensed. For instance, when you’re thinking of peering over
Niagara Falls when you visited it during a vacation, you are recalling
an episodic memory. A further example: You can declare, “When we were at
the market this morning, Bob got two apples and Mary bought two apples,
so altogether we came home with four apples.” You are using semantic
memory to apply math to four specific apples you remember seeing, which
is an episodic memory, or the memory of an “episode” that you
experienced.These terms and principles are important due to the
fact that the different types of memory are formed and recorded by the
brain in different ways and in several brain areas. They are subject to
enhancement or impairment in various ways, as well. For instance, not
all kinds of memories are impacted by aging in the same way.
Investigations are beginning to indicate that an increasing number of
people will live to 100 years of age. This can be good news or bad news,
depending on the standard of living you expect to have and preparations
for later years. As you continue to study and learn about memory,
remember these elementary ideas that will help set your fresh awareness
and “memories” into context.For more information on this and other topics of interest to senior
citizens, see our website Going Strong
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Parker is a teacher and writer.  He specializes in the psychology
of aging.  He is dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life
for seniors by means of memory enhancement, improved health, technology
and having fun.  He has taught at every education level from
kindergarten to university, including designing and teaching computer
and Internet classes for seniors citizens. Mr. Parker is a contributor
to Going Strong Seniors, a leading
Internet resource for senior citizens.  He invites you to click on the
link and take advantage of the great information and programs available
there.

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