Although scientists do not fully understand how the memory works, there are many theories about how brain stores information. One of the most well known theories is based on the idea that the brain uses sensory, short-term and long-term memory to store information.
Sensory memory works by absorbing each piece of stimuli you encounter. The incoming information is stored in sensory memory for less than a second before it is transferred to the next stage. It new information enters the sensory memory before the prior information has a chance to transfer to the short-term memory, the prior information is erased.
You may have encountered this problem when someone tells you his or her name then tells you where he or she works. If you know where the individual works but can not remember his or her name. The work information entered your sensory memory before the name transferred to your short-term memory.
Information that’s retained in the sensory memory is passed on to the short-term memory which acts as a temporary storehouse that holds data from ten seconds to a couple of minutes. Your short-term memory can hold about five to nine items of information. Your short-term memory is similar to your sensory memory in that new information can drive out previously stored information.
Long-term memory acts as a permanent storehouse for information. Your long-term memory can store an indefinite amount of information for an indefinite amount of time. In fact, scientists do not know how to measure the capacity of long-term memory.
The 3 R’s of Memory
Memory power consists of three factors: Reception, Retention and Recollection. All Three must be strong for good memory.
Reception – Information reaches to the brain through the senses: Touch, Taste, Smell, Hearing and Sight. If you want a good memory, you must train your senses. So be attentive and observant. This will help you to receive important information more easily. Moreover, if you don’t understand something, you won’t be able to remember.
Retention – means you have to keep hold of the reception. Naturally, a vivid reception is easier to remember than a weak one. Make a conscious effort to remember what is being said. By using both your visual and auditory senses, you will increase your retention rate. When people say they have forgotten, they often think their retention power has broken down. But the failure is often in the third memory factor: Recollection.
Recollection – means you have to be able to fish the reception out of your memory when you need it. Often, the smell of a flower or the tune of a song will suddenly bring back the memory of some place, person or happening from long ago. Things we thought we had forgotten are suddenly remembered and we say: “I have not thought about that for years!”
Strong memories come from strong first reception. Sometimes we remember something through a reappearance of the conditions that made the first reception. Thus if you ‘forget’ an idea, you may recall it if you return to the exact spot where you first thought of it.