The Human Memory The human body itself is a very wondrous and astonishing compound that has the ability to perform actions that can only be described amazing. One of these actions that I find to be the most intriguing is the bodies ability to retain and then later retrieve information; otherwise known as memory. Memory is such ac important part of the humankind because of the fact that it helps people remember, sometimes very vividly, events orations in one s lifetime. Although memory is a very complex and difficult object to work with scientists have been able to branch it into 3 basic types of memory that the mind contains. The first is known as sensory memory, this provides us with a temporary storage center for information that is brought to us by our senses. Sensory memory only contains information for a brief amount of time, its main purpose is to keep information just long enough for the mind to decide if it is worthy of retention.

An example of this would be you notice that your friend had recently got a haircut, you have to take a second look because your mind noticed there was something different. The second type of memory is known as short-term memory or the working memory, which is another type of memory system that can only hold a limited amount of information for brief periods of time. It consists of two basic components; a phonological store of representations of words, and a rehearsal mechanism that refreshes the contents of the phonological store through repetition. An example of these devices is repeating aloud directions to a location for the purpose of memorizing it.

Short term memory does not last very long, unless it is refreshed by using the repetition technique. The third type of memory system is used for remembering large amounts of information for a long period of time. It is called the long-term memory, this is the system that is responsible for your recollection of events in your life that happen when yo were younger such as; first days of school, first trips to the zoo, first plane ride, etc. In order for information to enter the long-term memory via the short-term memory one has to use the method of elaborate rehearsal. This method is very similar to the rehearsal method of short-term but it requires somewhat of a cognitive effort. In order to recall information that has been stored in the vast long-term memory, the process of retrieval is used.

The retrieval process relies on organization to help keep information on hand and easy to locate for retrieval at any time. Two basic ways used by organization is the idea of categories-transportation, food, animals, etc. , and hierarchies- idea of starting from one main idea and working downward through more and more detail. These two organizational techniques help keep ideas at a place where a person would not be speechless or at a loss for words at critical moments. Similar to the way scientists have been able to develop the three basic types of memory, scientists have also divided up the types of information that memory holds into 3 different categories. First of which is known as semantic memory, this is the general knowledge about the world.

Semantic memory lets us represent objects or situations that are not on hand to be examined by our senses. The second type information is called episodic memory, this allows us to recall things that we have seen, done, heard, and when they happened. Procedural memory is the third type of memory information and it is the information that we can not easily put into words because it holds the information about how we carry out and perform activities on a daily basis such as driving or riding a bike. Of course along with the idea of remembering subjects and ideas in ones memory bank there is also a opposite to this; forgetting. A very important process of the memory is making decisions about what information is valuable in the future and what is not. Oftentimes forgetting is looked upon as being a negative thing, however, what is not commonly known is that there are usually good reasons for not remembering certain things.

These reasons often include: - Information is never actually entered into the memory bank. - Sometimes information that is added may be very similar to other information which makes it un retrievable. - Information that you have few associations with is harder to remember. - Memories often fade or change over time. - Some information can only be remembered when they are prompted to by some cues, and those cues aren t a part of everyday life.

So even though forgetting important information is embarrassing at a time there is almost always a good reason for it. Most often people who have experienced forgetting or notice that they do not seem to be able to retain information as well as they used to, ask the question, Is there any way to improve upon my memory The answer is yes, there have been many proven ideas and techniques that improve on ones memory and most all of them are associated with the learning process. Some steps of improving on ones memory are: - Association - Visualization - Written reminders - Auditory reminders - Story methods - Categorization - Word games (Roy G. Biv-color spectrum) - Elaboration there are actually dozens and dozens of techniques used to help people increase there memory and in order for them to have any effect they have to be practiced on a daily basis in order to perfect them. Unfortunately system there is also a downside to this miraculous function of the brain; which is known as memory loss or amnesia. There is actually two types of amnesia, retrograde and anterograde.

Retrograde amnesia is when everything prior to the amnesia inducing event is forgotten, in anterograde, everything after the amnesia producing event is forgotten. Such events that cause amnesia include illnesses, accidents, drug-abuse, or other things of that nature to where damage is being done to the part of the brain where information is stored. There are also two major diseases that are found in retrograde amnesia, they are Korsakoff s Syndrome and Alzheimer s Disease. Korsakoff s Syndrome is usually caused by along term of alcohol. Symptoms of this syndrome include sensory and motor problems as well as heart, liver, and gastrointestinal, disorders.

Another serious disease, Alzheimer s, is found among 5% of all people over the age of 65. Alzheimer usually begins with mild problems and through the years one experiences severe mental deterioration. Amnesia is a very serious memory disorder and effects the lives of every family member if one is diagnosed with it. Memory is a very precious part of everybody s life without it no one would have a past and could not function properly.

Often times many people take for granite such things as memory and do not realize that there memory is such a gift. I personally have known a few elders that have memory problems and only when it seems they need their memory the most it fails them and only then they notice that what they had was so special.