How Does The Human Memory Work?

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Have you ever thought about the nature of memory? Considered how it functions? How it can be used in day to day life? In fact, the vast majority of us take memory for granted. We scarcely realize that memory is involved in nearly every single task we perform each day in the world. Whether we are working, studying, solving a problem, or simply talking, we are making use of the human memory. The way memory works is related to such parts of the brain as the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, the cortex, and the hippocampus.

These disparate parts of the brain work together, thereby allowing us to formulate and store information in the form of memories. The memories connect us to the external world � the data stored might be about a specific environment, a person, or an object. So how does memory work? If we did not understand the way memory worked, then we would not be able to comprehend why we perform such day to day routines as taking a shower, doing homework, or even communicating. We would thus not be able to comprehend such phenomena as forgetting and photographic memory.

So let�s take a look at human memory � what it is and how it works. After careful analysis, you should be able to understand what memory is and why it serves us in our day to day lives.
We�ll start with a simple definition. In the realm of human psychology, we give the term �memory� to that process that allows the storage, retaining, and subsequent recollection of information. In order to understand how memory works, we must first learn how memories are classified. The classification of memories is based on the duration, type of information, and the ways in which it is retrieved. To sum up, we can say that the three most basic stages that entail forming and retrieving a memory are encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding is the phase in which information that has been received is processed. In the storage phase, a permanent record of the information that was previously encoded is created. In the retrieval phase, the information that has been coded and stored is brought back to use with the help of some sort of external cue or internal process.

We can further classify memories in to three different types: sensory, short term, and long term.

When we speak of �sensory memory,� we are referring to the few split seconds that follows the initial perception of an object. If you are able to briefly look at something and immediately memorize its details, then that is an instance of sensory memory. Usually, in these cases, when you are only able to see something for a few split seconds, you might feel like you saw a lot more than you are able to describe.

Some of the data that is perceived in a sensory memory will subsequently be transferred to a short term memory. We call short term memory the ability to recall something from several seconds to a minute ago.
Finally, there is long term memory. Unlike short term and sensory memories, which disappear in a brief amount of time, long term refers to memories that can be stored for a period of up to several years.

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Article By: Eric Hartwell

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