Memory is the capacity by which the mind stores and remembers information. Memory is an important aspect of every day lives because without the recollection of the past, we can neither operate in the present nor think about the future. Things we remember from the past affect what we learn so therefore, without memory, we could not learn.
So how does memory work? There are three stages to the memory: encoding, storage and retrieval.
Encoding is when the information comes into our memory system from the sensory output. The brain will change this information into information that the system can store. It will be changed into either visual (a picture), acoustic (sound) or semantic (a meaning) information.
The brain will then decide where the information is stored, the duration which it is stored for, the capacity of information that can be stored and what type of information is held. The way we store information will later affect the way in which we achieve it. This is when the difference in short-term and long-term memory becomes apparent.
Short-term memory is retrieved sequentially which means that you will remember things in the order which they happened. Long-term memory is retrieved by association which means that objects or places will trigger the memories. If we can’t remember something, it is because we are unable to retrieve the information.
Memory experiments have shown that a simple way to improve your memory is organisation. It is thought, that if we organise things alphabetically, by size or by time, we are more likely to remember them because it is already pre-organised and easier for our brains interpret.
So next time you have something important to remember, either associate it with a place or organise it better!