Many people will confess that they are not good at memorizing long sequences of numbers. But the very fact that we can remember telephone numbers is a clear sign that the brain can store long strings of information. However, there’s a small trick, and that’s to break the information into smaller chunks that are easier to remember.
For instance, we would break down telephone numbers into bunches of 3 or 4 digits. In fact, it would be correct to say that not everybody else knows their credit number by heart, but it would be easier for them to memorize the digits by breaking them into fours. Some years back, a study was conducted on 14-month old children with toys. The objective was to find out if they could memorize information in smaller chunks.
During the study, two toys were hidden in a box and the other two were taken elsewhere, also hidden. The study wanted to find out how much longer the children would search for the missing toys that were not in the box. They discovered that when the toys were in groups of twos, such as two toy dogs and two toy cats, the children seemed to remember the fact that there were two of each toys, so they continued searching the box for the missing items.
This research suggested how information could be remembered. This takes us to the wonders of the brain and how it works to store information.
The wonders of our brain
When it comes to the way the brain handles memory, there are several things that take place. We categorize the memories in terms of working memory and long term memory.
The brain’s frontal lobe is responsible for the working memory. This part of the brain evaluates incoming information and focuses on it. The information is temporarily withheld, and an evaluation is made, whether to discard it immediately or store it for future use.
Here’s an example of working memory
Let’s say we needed to add 77, 89 and 65 without using a pen and a paper. After getting the totals of the first column which would be 21, we need to keep the 2 somewhere in our mind so that we can add it to the results of the second column. In other words, working memory helps us to work faster with information compared to the time we would spend writing it down.
Working memory prevents useless or meaningless information from encoding into long term memory. It screens out peripheral input so that it rejects things such as dogs barking, vehicles hooting and so forth, while taking in only what matters. So both working memory and long term memory gives human beings priority over what gets stored into the brain and what should be discarded immediately.
Long term memory
A decision will be made to take in data for long term storage. This information is channeled to different parts of the brain and may be sorted out based on things such as smell, shape, feel, color etc. Emotions also play a very important role in memorizing information this way. The more feelings we have that’s associated with the memory, the longer we tend to hold on to it.
Can you improve brain memory
Yes, brain memory can be improved using a process known as ”long term potential-tion”. This process involves encoding information by strengthening the nerve cells. At the same time, other cells will be weakened every time one is exposed to this exercise. When you practice hard, the bonds surrounding the cells will be stronger because they get more neurons involved in the thinking and storing of data.
This creates a new network of neurons that take part regardless of what we do, so learning a new language, mastering a golf skill or math concept may feel like a walk in the park.
However, there’s a myth that has been going round for a long time; that the older we get, the more our brains lose their ability to store information. The truth is, the adult brain is always eager to learn, so it’s resilient and adaptable. To support this, a professor from the University of Kentucky, called David Snowden conducted a study called ”The nuns of Mankato”. He took interest in the nuns who lived in a Mankato convent. Most of the nuns were in their 90s and 100s, but their lives were rigorous and full of activities.
Others studies also scanned the frontal lobes of both 25 year old and 75 years old individuals, and their frontal lobes were found to be equally illuminated. The study showed that intellectual activities strengthened dendrite growth to promote more neurons in the brain regardless of age. So, what do you think?