How Your Brain Connects With Memory

How Your Brain Connects With Memory

USA- We never forget the lyrics to our favourite boy band's song, but why is it that you cant remember what Netflix show you watched last night?  This is probably because we remember things that stand out or are related to our current knowledge base, something we constantly use or repeat over time. Sean Kang, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Education at Dartmouth College, whose research focuses on the cognitive psychology of learning and memory explains that a person wanting to learn about nuclear physics for the first time will likely find it very difficult to do since they don't have any existing knowledge to connect this information to. Neuroscientist suspect that there is actually a physical process needed to form a memory, and when we don't remember something it is likely a result of that action not happening says Blake Richards, DPhil, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. The way in which we create a grocery list on a piece of paper, we are doing a physical movement by writing things down or when you store something in a file on your computer, this makes a physical change happen to your brain when it stores this new information or memory. One of the biggest questions imposed at this level is whether the molecular signals are being transmitted to ensure these cells do change.

There are some strategies for better organizing information that is unfamiliar at first glance, and that is to connect it to things that we may already know according to Kang and others, but changing existing physical process that makes memories stick, there is most likely nothing you can do to affect that explains Richards. In recent papers, Richards and his colleague  Paul Frankland, Ph.D., senior scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children and Fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research looked at previous research associated with the brain, memory and physical changes and how sometimes that process works and sometimes it doesn't. A variety of mechanism is found on the brain and it invests more energy into overriding those connections, which in turn makes us forget information. This means forgetting is something very natural and normal rather than a fail in memory, explains Richards, the brain wants you to remember a short part of it as it believes it will help you adapt in the future and in the real world. An example is memorizing your best friends phone number, but your friends moved to a new city and changes their phone number, the old one becomes irrelevant and it will be harder for you to remember their new phone number. Kang believes genes might play a part in how you remember things, but training definitely helps with memory.

There is no one out there who just wakes up one day and is able to remember all 60,000 digits of Pi. There are some things you can do to improve your memory. Getting a good nights sleep is critical when it comes to storing memories, missing sleep hours or not getting a good sleep can compromise it. The National Sleep Foundation recommends you get about 7-9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health and brain function. Exercise will also help you with mood, heart health and getting better sleep. A study done in middle-aged women who were showing signs on memory loss started an exercise program which actually increased the size of their hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory storing, it improved learning and verbal memory in those women who were tested. You can also re-train yourself or repeat something again, Psychologists call this the Spacing Effect, the more you re-learn or remind yourself of something spaced out over a period of time, the better you will remember this information. Imagine you learn about an Olympic athlete who had a hard upbringing from watching the news about him, then a day or two later you read an article on him, and a few weeks later a co-worker begin to share with you the same story of this Olympic athlete, repetition helps you remember this and also the fact that you spaced it out in between different times, will help it sticks to your memory.

Testing yourself is useful as it reminds you of what you know and what you need to know, but the important part of this is that it helps you retrieve the information you already know and connecting this knowledge to your brain says Rosalind Potts, PhD, teaching fellow at the University College London, who researches how cognitive psychology applies to education. In more recent literature it has been found that remembering a shopping list and visualizing it in a room or a place that is familiar with that topic is also helpful they call this a memory place or method of loci. Mnemonic Devices work as they create a tether between two pieces of information. I am sure if you hear someone tell you to pay attention is important in remembering something, says Kang, but the most important thing to that is concentration, the likelihood you will remember the information received if you did not concentrate is very low. Most Americans are not able to describe details in a one dollar bill, even though is something they often look at. Richards adds, based on the neuroscience of how memory works, it is best to connect it to a part of your life or topic you are already familiar with. If you find a relevancy in a facet of your life, is important to use it.


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