How does memory work?

We’re all familiar that we have a memory which is used to collect and store the information but one of the main things which you have to realise that most of us do not know how does this memory work but this memory plays a very important role in allowing us to lead a normal life and that is why this memory is important. Whenever you are trying to recover your past memories you might be remembering things which occurred years ago and you are able to remember these things only because you have a good and proper functional memory. Collecting the information with the help of memory and storing the information with the help of memory is actually a complex procedure but in this article we have tried to explain it all for you in very simple terms.

Memory is not something which is tangible, you cannot touch your memory like other parts of your body and it is actually a series of complex processes which form the system of memory. In the most simple terms, you can think about your memory is a series of files and folders which are placed in cabinets. If there is no memory which is associated with these files and folders they wouldn’t be there. The folders and files which are they are in the Cabinet all are filled with some or the other type of memory. This is actually a very simple way to look at memory. In reality, memory is much more complex than this.

What is memory?

As we have mentioned above, memory is a series of processes which collects the information the information and stores the information so that you can retrieve at a later stage. The nerve cell connections which are in the brain facilitate the encoding and the storage of the information and this same nerve cell connection is also used to retrieve the memories as well. The different types of memories are stored in different parts of the brain and all the information is not collected and processed in the same area of the brain.

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What are the types of memory?

types of memory

You might be surprised to know that the types of memories can be divided at least into a few parts and the data which is collected decides on which type of memory it should be stored. This processing continuously is taking place inside our brain so that the brain is able to encode and store that information accordingly. Two of the most important types of memories are episodic memory and semantic memory. Both of these store different type of information and therefore it is important to understand what is the difference between both of these type of memories.

Semantic memory stores the factual information and the general knowledge about the world around us.

Episodic memory is related to your experiences and the events which have taken place in front of your eyes.

Actively simulating memory, this is another type of memory which relates to the learning process and whenever you’re learning something and the information is associated with the actual learning process it is related to this type of memory.

Procedural memory is the type of memory which allows you to learn the skills which you have specially the motor skills as well as the reflexive skills which you have.

These are the basic types of memories and the associated information with those memories.

Working of memory:

memory working

If you read something about memories then you would have surely come across the term long-term memories and short-term memories. This is dependent on the way in which the brain receives the information and then cause the information and stores the information. As you can guess from the names, it depends on the duration for which the memory is stored.

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When you’re speaking about memory you have to realise that there are multiple parts of the brain at work when you’re speaking about the receiving of the information and encoding of the information and finally processing and storing the information. All this process takes place in a very short duration of time. That is why, it is important to process the information which you are receiving at a very rapid pace so that you are able to easily move onto the next bit of information since the brain is receiving information from all parts of the body pretty rapidly.

Short-term memory, as the name suggest it stores the information for a shorter period of time and allows us to retrieve the information during that short period of time.

Similarly, longer term memory allows us to store the information for a longer period of time and we can easily retrieve it during that time period.

Neural pathways are the connectors through which you can retrieve stored the information.

If we were to explain by an example. then we would associate the short-term memory with the RAM of the computer and the longer term memory with the hard disk of the computer and the neural pathways with the connectors of the computer. The information in the RAM is the information which is being used currently or the information which is just stored for a short period of time.

Processing inside the brain:

In order to store the information in the longer term memory there is a high amount of encoding which is required whereas when you’re speaking about the shorter term memory this type of encoding is not required since it is to be stored only for a limited amount of time. For the longer term memory, the first stage of the information is to pass from the prefrontal lobe inside the brain to the hippocampus and hippocampus is situated in the inner fold of temporal lobe. This is the part of the brain where the encoding and the processing of the information takes place. The hippocampus of the brain is responsible for making the Association of the information with the previous memories which are present and this happens when the information is passing through the hippocampus. While accessing the information prefrontal cortex is used to make sure that you are able to easily retrieve that information as well.

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In this entire process the hippocampus plays a very important role since it is the part of the brain which associates the memories with the previous memories and also builds up emotional connections in the process as well.

This is how the human memory actually works and by now you would have the answer to the question how does human memory work? We have tried to explain it to you in the simplest terms possible.