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“Memory is the diary we all carry about with us,” Oscar Wilde once said. Now for a second imagine a life without any memories! One wouldn’t be able to remember his/her name, how to look after themselves or to even recognize their own friends and family. It would be impossible to live happily without ones memories. That is why our memories are such vital points in our lives. They are the building blocks of our current selves. Due to those reasons it is very useful to find as much information regarding it as possible. For that very purpose this research paper has been written. The purpose of this research is to uncover the truth regarding how the human brain stores and retrieve memories. Throughout this research, topics such as definition of memory, types of memory, diseases resulting in difficulties with memory, as well as the most known phenomena déjàvu which is caused by a certain type of memory process will be discussed.
The word memory can be defined in many ways depending on the field that the term memory is used in. To start of the most commonly used definition for the term memory is the name given to the human’s ability to encode, store, retain and subsequently recall information and past experiences in the brain. It is a sum of what we remember in total and it enables us to learn and adapt from previous experiences and to build relationships. Etymologically, the modern English word memory has originated from the passed down Latin word memoria and memor which means mindful and remembering. In neurological and psychological terms memory is simply classified as a set of encoded neural connections in the brain. Since the development of the computer in the 1940s, the word memory is also used to describe the ability of a computer to store information that would be later on withdrew, as well as the physical components of the computer in which such information is stored.
The human brain is fabricated of 100 billion neurons. As one grows and develops, these neurons are attached to each other, and communicate through thousands of connections called synapses. (sciencemuseum.org.uk) .The brain is only reflected to process information that will be useful at a later date, and to allow the rest or in other words unimportant information to pass by unnoted. Memories are formed when certain connections inside our brain are strengthened. Human memory is an intricate activity of the brain that allows us to store information and retrieve it again when we need it. All people have a natural curiosity about their memory. This question came into account several years ago by reports in the popular press of recovered memories from early childhood. This question also brought along many other questions and whether infants can recall memory from any length of time. Due to this sudden interest in the human memory, it led to many people assuming that the time for the research on memory was then. (Rovee-Collier, June 1999, pg.80)
But that belief is proved to be wrong. The study of human memory stretches back to at least to 20,000 years ago. Aristotle made one of the earliest attempts to understand human memory in his thesis called “On the Soul”. In his thesis Aristotle compared the human mind to a blank slate and hypothesized that all humans are born unrestricted to any knowledge and are purely the summation of their experiences. He related memory to rendering marks in wax, which is sometimes spoken of as the “storehouse metaphor”, that is a philosophy of memory, which has been held waver for many centuries. In the distant past, it was commonly supposed that there were two sorts of memory. The first kind being the natural memory that is the intuitive one, which all humans use every day. Then there is the second type of memory that is the artificial memory. The artificial memory is exercised through learning and practice of a variation of memory aid techniques, which results in accomplishments of memory that are relatively unexpected or impossible to carry out by using the natural memory alone. (Mastin, 2010)
How are our memories formed? This is a question that whoever considers the spectacle of remembering past events will ask him/herself. The configuration of new memories is assumed to involve the consolidation of a connection called synaptic connections, which happen between groups of neurons. The process of remembering consists of the recrudescence of the same group, or network, of neurons. As memories start to age, the networks slowly but surely start to change as well. In the beginning, memories for everyday life events give the impression of depending on networks in a region of the brain named the hippocampus. In spite of this, over time, these memories become all the time more dependent upon networks in the region of the brain called the cortex (May 7, 2004 issue of the journal Science.). To phrase it simply, new memories are formed when information is changed into a usable form, this event occurs through a process known as encoding. Once the information has been effectively encrypted, it must then be put is storage in the memory for later use. A great deal of this stockpiled memory lies outside of our awareness for the furthermost time, excluding the time when we actually need to use it. Then there comes a process called the retrieval process, which enables us to bring stored memories into out conscious awareness (Kendra Cherry, 2013).
With its three different types, the human memory is relatively diverse. To start off, there is the sensory memory. This type of memory is the shortest-term division of memory. The sensory memory is the ability to keep in mind marks of sensory or in other words physical information after the original inducements have ended. It acts as a form of shield for stimuli received through the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, which are reserved precisely, nonetheless for a short time. An example of sensory memory is the ability of a human to look at something and remember what it looked like after a short time of observing that entity. The inducements detected by our senses can be either deliberately ignored, which will result in them disappearing almost immediately, or observed, in which case they will enter our sensory memory.
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