Thursday, December 5, 2013 8 Comments
& Alphabet Disorders
©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
When Memory Fails, Part 2
According to Psychology Today ––
Memory makes us. If we couldn’t recall the who’s, what’s, where’s, and when’s of our everyday lives, we’d never be able to manage.
We mull over ideas in the present with our short-term (or working) memory, while we store past events and learned meanings in our long-term memory.
What Science Says
Memory is dynamic and malleable – and it doesn’t NEED to decay with age.
Through the miracles made possible through our brain’s ability to build new neural-networks — neuroplasticity! — most of us can expect to remain sharp and efficient, lean, mean learning machines throughout most of our lives. We can, that is, as long as we take care of ourselves.
However, researchers are quick to point out, just as keeping our “physical apparatus” strong and flexible requires good nutrition and hygiene, remaining well-hydrated, and making sure that we get regular exercise so that our bodies can continue to serve us well . . .
Keeping our BRAINS supple has its own set of nutritional requirements and, to maintain peak performance, our brains need even more water than our bodies.
Were you aware that 80% of your brain is good ole’ H2O??
(In case you were wondering, 60% of the remaining 20% is FAT – which is only one reason why extremely low-fat diets may be great for helping you get into your skinny jeans, but they’re LOUSY for the health of your brain!)
The brain’s need for exercise is frequently summed up in the words of an old platitude: use it or lose it!
Related post: Images for Memory Practice
For some help strengthening visual memory,
check out this post on the blog of a TBI advocate
Losing it ANYWAY
Okay, it’s certainly true that our ability to “remember” weakens if we don’t exercise our brains or take care of our bodies.
BUT EVEN for those of us who are reasonably fit, responsibly fed, well-watered life-long learners, there are times when information seems to fall through the cracks in our minds.
Ask any relatively good student if there was ever a time when, after studying vigorously for a particular exam – and even though they KNEW they “knew” the requested information – they couldn’t supply the answer to one of the questions.
Most students will answer your question affirmatively, yet they are members of the community that “uses it” most deliberately, nearly every single day.
That reality underscores an important point in the understanding of memory dynamics: it’s not enough to focus our energies on keeping our ability to store information strong and vital. We need to understand how to be able to retrieve the information reliably for our “memory” to be of any use to us.
Getting things OUT
The process of memory storage is an extremely important part of the equation, of course — but if our brain’s librarian can’t locate what we ask it for when it comes time to USE the information, what good is it?
So before we explore the process of moving information into long-term memory storage, let’s take a look at the ways in which our “neuro-librarians” deliver what we’re looking for once it is stored there.
The “regurgitation” portion of the memory process is a factor of, essentially, three different processes:
- recall, and
- recall on demand
Let’s distinguish each of them before we go any further.