Human memory as a concept is used to denote the totality of abilities and higher mental functions, and operations occurring in the brain. These are operations of accumulation, preservation, and memorization of knowledge. Memory is based on experience. Without it, these operations are not possible.
From the point of view of psychology, it is important to note that memory is a property of the nervous system. It lends itself to development and is characterized by the presence of many species. It is worth emphasizing that the brain is a unique repository that can hold terabytes of memory in machine language, although this comparison is irrational.
The article presents the classification of memory, provides interesting facts, and describes ways to improve memory.
Basic theories of memory
A person and his brain are arranged so that some events leave an indelible mark while others are quickly forgotten. Some of them form stable constructs and, if necessary, are reproduced.
S. L. Rubinshtein repeatedly noted in his writings that the existence of an individual and society as a whole would be impossible without memory. As well as without understanding its essence and mechanisms.
The main psychological theories of memory are as follows:
It is based on associations. The bottom line is that if certain formations arise and form in a person’s mind, associative links are necessarily built between them. The repeated manifestation of any connection leads to the emergence of a general idea of all formations.
Proponents of this theory believe that the basis for memory formation is the organization of knowledge and ideas according to the principle of isomorphism: similarity in form. In this case, the implementation of memory functions is tied to the manners and characteristics of behavior characteristic of the individual.
Within the framework of this theory, memory is considered the result of the activity. All operations occurring in the brain are considered by the supporters of the concept in the context of the significance of a certain type of activity for the individual.
Individual differences in memory in people
Differences in memory can be explained by what kind of memory is used most often. They are also influenced by the nature of the work performed and the features of daily activities.
A good example is researchers. They have developed semantic and logical types of memory, while mechanical memory development level suffers.
All processes associated with memory, in particular, the speed of memorization and the speed of reproduction, which is important to understand, are influenced by personal characteristics, mood, interests, and desires. The combination of these and other factors determine individual differences. They can also be explained by how emotionally significant this or that event is for a particular subject and his state at the time of receiving the experience.
Types of memory and their characteristics
Separate types of memory, as well as the features of memorization and other memory operations, depending on the nature of the mental activity, its connections with the activity’s goals, and not only.
The characteristics of individual common types of memory are discussed below.
Short term memory
Usually, this type is considered a separate component of shared memory. Information within this component is borrowed from the sensory sphere and results from the processing of spontaneous memories. With its help, a person can keep in his head a small amount of information in a form suitable for processing by consciousness. A person cannot remember large amounts of information through only a short-term component: he will rather begin to forget individual moments than learn the big picture.
Another thing is long-term memory.
Long term memory
The differences between the first kind considered and long-term memory are intuitive. With the latter’s help, an unlimited amount of information is processed and stored in the head. In a sense, this is a system of long-term storage of knowledge and information about the experience gained.
There is a feature: this component is responsible for writing and erasing information. The shelf life is due to the importance of experience: it can be either a few seconds or several years.
It is also called working, which is more correct from the point of view of sociology and psychology. Working memory is a component necessary for implementing current logical operations or actions. It is very similar to the short-term component. However, some researchers and scientists believe it is unfair to liken one to another. At the same time, there are no clear distinctions in the number of literary sources.
This component is directly related to the movements’ experience, reproduction, and preservation. Thanks to it, practical and labor skills are formed: walking, writing, jumping, and others. It provides motor functions.
It is also called affective. This is, in a general sense, the ability to remember experiences, feelings, and emotions without reference to the situation but relying on physical sensations, on sensuality.
It is, understandably, based on images and ideas. This component is a repository of sound, olfactory, tactile and visual representations, and patterns formed during life.
With its help, a person can remember sequences of words, phrases, or actions in stories and control the sequences of his thoughts. Thanks to the verbal-logical component, the specified sequences are also reproduced; a specific subject reproduces thoughts through it and builds consistent phrases, statements, and more.
Instantaneous (sensory) memory
This is a hypothetical subsystem that keeps in mind the results of the processing of sensory experience by the brain and data on stimuli entering the senses after the cessation of exposure to specific stimuli. Within the framework of this subsystem, it is customary to distinguish visual, auditory, tactile, and other subspecies. Some researchers associate it with a symbolic type of memory, but in this case, there is no question of the formation of patterns.
Genetic (biological) memory
Also called genetic or racial, this type of memory is usually considered a set of hereditary reactions. They are passed on through genes.
The features of this type of memory determine stable patterns of behavior. It is not tied to the concept of “period”: like genes, it is transmitted from parent to child for life, but it can change.
Arbitrary and involuntary types of memory
An arbitrary component is responsible for memorization and another operation – the reproduction of knowledge. They are, in an arbitrary case, carried out through efforts and subject to the presence of a specific task. An example is the need to memorize the material given in the lecture. The development of memory, in general, depends on this component.
Objectives, goals, or programs do not govern the involuntary component. The process of memorization proceeds without a person’s participation; it is not necessary to lead it.
Basic memory processes
As part of the complex of abilities, it is customary to distinguish several main processes. Below they are discussed in detail.
This is the imprint of the perceived information, any knowledge received. A person becomes capable of remembering something after gaining experience of interaction with certain objects and phenomena through sensations and perception. How the process of memorization can be voluntary and involuntary (an analogy is the voluntary and involuntary components of memory).
It is the retention of something in memory. An example is learning, when the student adopts the teacher’s manners of speech and thinking and assimilates the information he offers. As a result of the implementation of this operation, neural connections are formed between cells, which line the nerve pathways – stored data blocks.
It is the re-creation of images that have been assimilated and become stable, taking the form of patterns through the memorization and preservation of information about specific events. As a result of this process, the previously formed neural connections are activated.
This is a partial or complete erasure of specific fragments from memory. Erasure is subject to memories associated with certain periods, even long and important for the subject.
Some researchers attribute forgetting to the quality of retention of knowledge or experience patterns.
Ways to improve memory
Do you want to remember everything and, even more, to make memory flexible and universal? It’s possible. You need to train it, regularly saturate the brain with oxygen, eat right, prefer active rest and sports to sit on the couch, read books and develop. But even this may not be enough.
There are several interesting methods by which you can easily pump memory.
A healthy brain is a well-fed brain. Like any other system of the body, what must be remembered is that it needs nutrients. Awareness of this fact will allow not only improve memory processes but also exclude the possibility of a deficiency of useful substances from which other organs will suffer. If the brain lacks something, the body will first decide to feed it to the detriment of saturating other organs with useful substances.
- saturated with protein;
- containing a minimum of tonic substances;
- saturated with fatty acids, magnesium, chromium, and vitamins of groups A, B, and C.
They nourish the brain and do not allow it to wear out. For example, vitamins reduce the risk of dementia and the development of Alzheimer’s disease, chromium prevents depression that negatively affects brain function, and magnesium ensures the usefulness of rest. All this is extremely important in terms of the state of the brain.
Bad memory is not a sentence. It needs good training to develop. A technique such as mnemonics is a great opportunity to facilitate the operation of memorizing information and increase memory capacity.
The essence of the reception is the formation of associative links by replacing abstract objects, phenomena, and facts with representations, the basis of which are visual, kinesthetic, and sound components. Thanks to the latter, the connection of certain objects with existing and established ideas is ensured.
Often this technique is used to memorize and assimilate information that is difficult to perceive.
An example of how this works can be found in a good way to remember the colors of the rainbow: Every Hunter Wants to Know…
This method is great for remembering something by translating mental or other representations into visual images. For example, it is enough to imagine that some phenomenon has a very real visual image.
To understand what it is about, it is enough to recall a school course in physics: there, in textbooks, processes that cannot be seen are demonstrated using the method.
To train memory and start thinking productively, you can use one of the following methods to make the results of all memory processes perfect.
Any situation leaves impressions, and any idea of something is based on them. By paying attention to impressions and being vigilant about individual events, and their “aftertaste,” you can train your memory.
You can get good results by scrolling through the impressions in your head and making connections between the experience and the received emotions and experiences.
This is another good way. You can use associations when memorizing something, memorizing materials, or doing other intellectual work that requires memorization. This is the secret of a good memory. In the context of her training, it is worth considering the associative method as the replacement of complex forms of something with simple, understandable components that are interconnected.
Mother of learning. Psychologists consider repetition to be the basis of memorization. It’s like learning the alphabet in kindergarten or elementary school: only regular repetition allows children to remember the sequence of letters, their numbers, and their pronunciation.
It is obvious, for example, that any specialist who regularly works in one of the areas of professional activity, forced to repeat certain materials or refer to them again and again, eventually realizes that all the necessary information is stored in his head. He no longer needs to turn to sources that previously seemed necessary.
Special memory systems
It’s about mnemonics. To be more precise, about mnemonics. The development of memory with their help can be carried out in several scenarios.
Remembering faces and names
The bottom line is this: when communicating with people and showing interest in them, you need to call them by name more often, build associations with already familiar personalities, and go through all the variations of names in your head (example: Natasha, Natalya, Natalie, Tanya). The same with faces: it is enough to look at a person more often when communicating, to compare his appearance with the appearance of others. Notice, highlight and remember the characteristic features – it’s easy. As easy as remembering a face.
Following the given conditional algorithm of actions, you can learn to remember faces and names and train your memory. This is not only interesting but also useful.
Remembering things to do
You should learn to remember things, not to forget who you had to call or write to, why and why, and what you had to buy in the store. You must translate them into images and mentally impose them on the usual routes.
Example: a building that has nine rooms. The first seven are the days of the week with deeds in them. Room No. 8 – these are things for the week (self-control), No. 9 – things for the month (self-control at a distance). A simple and effective technique.
Memorization of foreign words
This is where associations work best. Without deepening into the theory, it is worth moving on to examples.
There is an English word for “look” (look). You can remember it through association with the Russian word “onion.” It is almost impossible to “look” at the “onion”: the eyes begin to water.
Another example based on associations is the memorization of foreign words not in the form of translations into the native language but as definitions of certain concepts, descriptions of objects, phenomena, or processes. “Cup” – a cup with a handle. Having fixed the image in your mind, you can easily remember this and any other word.
Memory is a complex set of processes. It can and should be trained; it can be controlled. Memory is made up of many components and varies from person to person.