3 quick facts about memory.

Ever wondered about the workings of your memory? Thought about how it operates? How we use it from day to day?

Our memory is something we take for granted, though we use for pretty much everything we do, we often don't know how it actually works. Similar to being able to drive a car everywhere but not knowing how it runs in the first place. Unsurprisingly the memory is complex and involves several parts of the brain when in use. Some memories can be rich and long lasting while others can be insignificant and brief, but overall memories are what makes us who we are.

This post will go over some different aspects in regards to memory to help give you a better understanding of its inner workings.

Smell... a powerful trigger
The study of human behaviorSometimes underestimated, smell can be a very powerful memory trigger. The olfactory nerve responsible for the sensation of smell is located close to and has access to the amygdala, the area of the brain that is activated when experiencing emotion and emotional memory. The same nerve is located near the hippocampus, responsible for associative learning, meaning smells only trigger memories when linked to an event, person or thing not just for the smell itself. For instance when you smell a barbecue you think of the summer or a  garden party in the hot weather. You don't smell something and think of just the smell itself its always associated with something else, a form of classical conditioning in itself. This explains how a lot of smells induce nostalgia as a lot of those associations were first made at a young age. 

Doorways and memory
The study of human behaviorSomething we've all been through at some time or another, you've set out to do a task and you need something from the next room, and as soon as you walk through the doorway.... Poof! You've forgotten what it is you were supposed to do in the first place. What happened? Well apparently according to Gabriel Radvansky it wasn't spontaneous amnesia, it wasn't old age and it definitely wasn't aliens. It was actually just the mere act of walking through the door way that was the culprit. His research discovered that we compartmentalise our memories by physical location, meaning that in one room you may want to get your favourite book to read but as soon as your enter another room that same thought is a lot harder to access. He conducted research by having students examine a box containing red cubes and blue spheres which then after the students had to recall what were in the boxes after walking through a doorway. The results were very astounding. He wound up calling doorways thought erasers. Go figure.

Sensory memory
Sensory memory is the shortest kind of memory, it is a short term buffer which the sensory memory store information before any cognitive processes take place. The stimuli picked up by the senses can be discarded if not paid attention to quick enough otherwise they can be stored within the sensory memory. Sensory memory is a tool used to keep aware of one thing whilst being openly aware of the wider surroundings. 

Iconic store: This is where visual image are stored for a very short time within the sensory memory. George Sperling, an American cognitive scientist found that visual memory last for around half a second.

Echoic store: This is where auditory sounds are stored for a short time within the sensory memory. Echoic memory can last from around 250 milliseconds to a couple of secounds.

Haptic memory: This is where physical sensations and muscle tension are store in the sensory memory.

Be quick to notice any quick or slight sensory cues, if not your sensory memory being very short will discard them quickly.

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