When we want to retrieve some information we do it from long-term memory. This information can be stored just as it says, for long-term or life. As far as neuroscientists know, long-term memory has no limit, so as many memories as you can gather and your short-term memory will allow to be saved and passed on to long-term memory.

Long-term memory can be divided into two separate categories:

  • Declarative Memory
  • Procedural Memory

The declarative memory stores facts that can be recalled to your conscious mind for discussion or “declaration.” Declarative memory can be broken down further into two more categories: episodic memory, which is bringing back personal experiences in a step-by-step process; and semantic memory, a recalling facts, skills, information and concepts we have learned over the years that are unrelated to personal experiences.

Procedural memory is repetitive learning skills, like riding a bike or tying shoelaces. It allows us to understand the world around us, like what a bus looks like because we have retained that image in our memory.

Memory is not stored in just one place in our brain. There is a group of systems that are drawn from to recall information, and sometimes it takes more than one storage area to be able to put a memory together. How does that happen? Through four separate processes that takes place after the short-term memory releases the data:

  • Encoding
  • Storage
  • Retrieval
  • Deletion

Encoding is just like it sounds, the information is converted to code (similar to a .zip file) that can be easily filed into your memory storage system. The human mind encodes through association. The encoded data is then sent to the brain cells, with the help of hormones and chemicals, through neuroconnections.

In order for memory to be stored there must be a chemical change to take place. The Storage area holds the encoded cells until they are sent for retrieval. Research has found that time and consistency help retain the information in storage for the long-term.

The Retrieval process brings the image out of storage for its use, like recalling specific tasks or how to discuss a certain topic. There really isn’t any conscious thought involved in retrieval; it’s like working on “automatic.”

Deletion is basically forgetting. It is not certain whether we actually lose all the information in our memory when we delete it, or if it simply buries itself a little deeper into our subconscious. The information basically is inaccessible. Deletion may not be a negative thing, however, it offers our brain a chance to clean house and get rid of unnecessary information in order to maximize efficiency – it is basically a protection mechanism.

Our long-term memory is structurally and functionally different from our working or short-term memory, which lasts a very short period of time and can be recalled easily before it is deleted or passed on to the long-term memory. It is our storage and retrieval system for all the memories we are able to keep on to and bring back, and necessary in order to keep our life in sync and our brain healthy.



About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory improvement skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.



Tools for Abundance – Improve Your Memory: http://www.tools-for-abundance.com/memory.html