I thought I could address this topic in a novel way to highlight the many facets of memory in a way that we all could remember.

I want to introduce heuristics, memory tactics, the uses of memory and what memory can imply using our imagination and thought.

To start with I am going to ask each of you with your pen and paper to write down an object for me and read it out . I will chose 10 to put down on the board.

Next  I will show you a list of random numbers[ that some of you may recognise]. They are, 17, 23, 5, 18, 20, 25, 9, 15,  21, 16, 1,

Another arrangement is e,j,o,t,y. This is a significant arrangement.

We will discuss these later .

Finally there are 10 objects on this table . You all have 30 seconds to look at them.

The tests we have just done illustrate some of the various types of memory and how it works.

Memory is basically time travel. The ability to travel both back and forward in time. Traveling back is due to the ability to recall now a past sensory or thought process as it happened usually when needed. Acting on the memory is not actually memory though some instances are conjoined, like in breathing or walking.

The  things one needs for memory are input, storage, processing and recall [retrieval].

Input comes from both sensory input and also thought input. The human senses are touch taste sight smell and hearing. We can add vibration, pain, heat and visceral sensations. Other species have extra senses or heightened senses.

Sensation is stored in the brain primarily (The stomach senses food even without central feedback and responds.). Sensation is data. We react to pain both on a local and cerebral level. The areas that are activated by our senses are the primary storage sites but due to the massive interlinking of our neurons the data is stored all over the brain as well as it links with the other data accompanying it and our processing system. This provides a backup which means it is incredibly hard to destroy data (amnesia) completely.The means of storage is still in dispute.

Processing is the way of arranging data ready for retrieval. Areas of the brain specialise in taking the data in and arranging it in ways that allow steady, useful retrieval. This enables the thought processes to access the data when it is needed or required. These areas are increasingly well known.

The amygdala deals with …. most of these process take place in the midbrain where the neutrons transmit the data for specific uses. Broca’s area is where speech patterns are stored. Usually on the left side of the brain. Damage this and the  ability to speak properly is lost, but not the memory of past conversations.

We can store memory as short or long term memory. It is thought that certain areas do have more more of a role to play in the retrieval process rather than the storage process. Again there is some argument as to whether there really is a difference other than  repetition Our immediate  verbal numerical memory span is quite short 5-9 characters,

Using our memory.
[Thinking fast and slow] authors won a Nobel Prize for their work on heuristics. The short cuts we use in processing informationNow the first test , the 5 letters I gave you in reverse order, write them down.

You will see that it is much easier to remember the shorter sequence. Also that the longer sequence, done first, disappears from the memory due to a process called recent activation which makes an earlier memory harder to retain.

A similar phenomenon is the unfinished task, a  job left undone demands constant re attention but when completed the task that seemed fresh in one’s mind has now gone.

Memory improves with repetition. A rule of thumb is that 5% of a given lecture will be retained long term with rapid fall off of the other 95%. Repeating the lecture will fix a further 5% in place and it will stay for longer.This is one of the principles for improving in examination tasks.

What are the hints for improving one’s memory?

Focus and attention are the main keys. These two techniques are a prerequisite.In order to encode information into memory, we must first pay attention, a process known as attentional capture.

Motivation. Desire or need is a great motivating factor. It is much easier to stick at a task

Immersion. This is the best way to learn any subject, particularly languages but also art, science painting and music.

Now for some tricks to help when all else fails.

Reminders. Notes are usually best but recording can be done in many ways with film or sound on one’s mobile phone. Tying a bit of string around a finger.

Association is a recognised technique What we do is tie a link between a long term memory and our new short term memory. The link is composed of a visual or verbal surprise between the task at hand  and a known recallable object, then wrapping it in a visual or verbal picture.
A well used method is the family home or the workplace where one can walk around the rooms and leave the associations inside.

Method of Loci

One example of taking advantage of deeper semantic processing to improve retention is using the method of loci. This is when you associate non-visual material with something that can be visualized. Creating additional links between one memory and another, more familiar memory works as a cue for the new information being learned.

Semantic Processing

Semantic processing is when we apply meaning to words and compare or relate it to words with similar meanings. This deeper level of processing involves elaborative rehearsal, which is a more meaningful way to analyze information. This makes it more likely that the information will be stored in long-term memory, as it is associated with previously learned concepts.

Phonetic Processing

Phonetic processing is how we hear the word—the sounds it makes when the letters are read together. We compare the sound of the word to other words we have heard in order to retain some level of meaning in our memory. Phonetic processing is deeper than structural processing; that is, we are more likely to remember verbal information if we process it phonetically.

Structural Processing

Structural processing examines the structure of a word—for example, the font of the typed word or the letters within in it. It is how we assess the appearance of the words to make sense of them and provide some type of simple meaning.


Letters: Processing how a word looks is known as structural processing.

Structural processing is the shallowest level of processing

To return to the example of trying to remember the name of a restaurant: if the name of the restaurant has no semantic meaning to you (for instance, if it’s a word in another language, like “Vermicelli”), you might still be able to remember the name if you have processed it phonetically and can think, “It started with a V sound and it rhymed with belly.”

Finally I would like to talk about where our memory takes place. Basically we recreate the world we live in inside our heads. We uses our senses to build up a room with our central awareness located behind our eyes. This room is our 3D representation of the world, populated by our memories and our current sensory inputs. We know, due to our memory, what other things may be happening outside of our room away from our senses.
Though we change locations this one room is always with us, just the wallpaper changes.

Jim Carry, The Matrix, etc , The concept of living in a computer world.

The universe we live in is a marvel but we can only know it from the input of our senses. We do not know what we do not know. .

Limits of memory and the human mind.

It is theoretically possible to have a much more able mind but we are limited, sensibly, by the world we live in. Some people say we only use 10% of our brains. This is not quite right. We can only use them to the extent that the wiring allows. No one deliberately chooses to under use an asset.
Some people have virtual photographic memories, Others names, places or people.

What is memory
What is happiness? Happiness is a life of good memories and an ability to let the bad memories fade. Memories are made of this  Frank Sinatra.

Memories come on board as the brain wiring expands to network properly and language develops. The ability to develop a language is innate, in the genes programmed. We have an inbuilt memory both to be able to communicate to each other  and to develop our memories. It is rare to really remember much before the age of 3. Somewhere between then and 5 comes the development  of an awareness of our awareness. To know that we are alive. Memory storage continues through out our life with overlays of hormonal directed behaviour.
We keep losing brain cells from the moment we are born if not before. 200,000 a day! Luckily there are about 86 billion neurons so even at 70 we have lost less than 10%. Lifestyle affects the rate of loss so head injuries, alcohol on some people, Atheroma, diabetes and smoking. None the less this effect called senile dementia  is usually very late in onset and most of us die before getting there.

More to the point are the presenile dementia’s like Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease.  There is a genetic predisposition and an unknown environmental factor or factors. Basically they can be slowed a little with medication but not stopped in progression and the best advice is to preserve what  we can, a little late now for some.

Lastly we all know what old age is like. It really seems to be partly a state of mind and partly

mid 18th century (as an adjective): via medieval Latin from Greek mn?monikos, from mn?m?n ‘mindful’.
Middle English: from Old French memorie, from Latin memoria, from memor ‘mindful, remembering’

Memory is the faculty of the brain by which data or information is encoded, stored, and retrieved when needed. It is the retention of information over time for the purpose of influencing future action.[1] If past events could not be remembered, it would be impossible for language, relationships, or personal identity to develop.[2] Memory loss is usually described as forgetfulness or amnesia.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Memory is often understood as an informational processing system with explicit and implicit functioning that is made up of a sensory processor, short-term (or working) memory, and long-term memory.[9] This can be related to the neuron. The sensory processor allows information from the outside world to be sensed in the form of chemical and physical stimuli and attended to various levels of focus and intent. Working memory serves as an encoding and retrieval processor. Information in the form of stimuli is encoded in accordance with explicit or implicit functions by the working memory processor. The working memory also retrieves information from previously stored material. Finally, the function of long-term memory is to store data through various categorical models or systems.[9]

Declarative, or explicit, memory is the conscious storage and recollection of data.[10] Under declarative memory resides semantic and episodic memory. Semantic memory refers to memory that is encoded with specific meaning,[2] while episodic memory refers to information that is encoded along a spatial and temporal plane.[11][12][13] Declarative memory is usually the primary process thought of when referencing memory.[2] Non-declarative, or implicit, memory is the unconscious storage and recollection of information.[14] An example of a non-declarative process would be the unconscious learning or retrieval of information by way of procedural memory, or a priming phenomenon.[2][14][15] Priming is the process of subliminally arousing specific responses from memory and shows that not all memory is consciously activated,[15] whereas procedural memory is the slow and gradual learning of skills that often occurs without conscious attention to learning.[2][14]

Memory is not a perfect processor, and is affected by many factors. The ways by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved can all be corrupted. The amount of attention given new stimuli can diminish the amount of information that becomes encoded for storage.[2] Also, the storage process can become corrupted by physical damage to areas of the brain that are associated with memory storage, such as the hippocampus.[16][17] Finally, the retrieval of information from long-term memory can be disrupted because of decay within long-term memory.[2] Normal functioning, decay over time, and brain damage all affect the accuracy and capacity of the memory.[18][19]

The Nine Greek Muses

  1. Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry
  2. Clio, the Muse of history
  3. Erato, the Muse of lyric poetry
  4. Euterpe, the Muse of music
  5. Melpomene, the Muse of tragedy
  6. Polyhymnia, the Muse of sacred poetry
  7. Terpsichore, the Muse of dance and chorus
  8. Thalia, the Muse of comedy and idyllic poetry
  9. Urania, the Muse of astronomy

The Muses were nine beautiful young women who were the goddesses and embodiments of science, literature, and the arts. In ancient culture, they were the source of orally related knowledge of poetic lyrics and myths, and were considered to be the personification of knowledge and of the arts, especially dance, literature and music.

The Muses were believed to live on Mount Olympus, where they entertained the Olympian gods with their artistry, but later tradition placed them on Mount Helicon or Mount Parnassus.

The Birth of the Nine Muses

The muses were the nine daughters of Zeus, the king of the gods, and the Titaness Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory.


Mnemonic devices, sometimes simply called mnemonics, are one way to help encode simple material into memory. A mnemonic is any organization technique that can be used to help remember something. One example is a peg-word system, in which the person “pegs” or associates the items to be remembered with other easy-to-remember items. An example of this is “King Phillip Came Over For Good Soup,” a peg-word sentence for remembering the order of taxonomic categories in biology that uses the same initial letters as the words to be remembered: kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species. Another type of mnemonic is an acronym, in which a person shortens a list of words to their initial letters to reduce their memory load.

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