Is it possible to remember everything in the world? How our memory works

How does human memory work?

Memory isn't just what's going on in your brain. You can't just

create a memory, you have to form it. They are not the same thing.

There are many processes in the human brain,most of them are still being studied. For example, those that determine how and why memories are stored and how they are called up. Scientists, neuroscientists in particular, have known for years that a person's condition - young or old, stressed or not - can interfere with or contribute to the process of coding memory in the mind.

Something else is starting to emerge now.When a person forgets something, this is not due to the fact that his memory is not working well. In fact, the brain is reorganizing so that it can focus on more important things. There are even leading theories that the brain remembers everything that has ever happened to you. It simply shapes neural pathways to memories that it considers important.

It may sound crazy, but there are good onesevidence for this theory, reports Interesting Engineering. There are certain clinical disorders that make people remember everything that has ever happened to them. Like the boy in the video below:

Memories, or rather neural pathways thatused to invoke them, amplified each time we revive certain events in memory. Active memory recovery practices, such as exam preparation, will improve your brain's ability to remember.

So how, then, can we better remember something if we already understand the basic principle?

The best ways to remember

Several studies by leading psychologists andneuroscientists show that taking quizzes, practicing and successfully memorizing something is much better than trying to memorize something. In these studies, students specifically used various memorization tools to learn words in a foreign language.

Some groups just learned word translations.Others used various techniques. 7 days after the start of the experiment, those students who did not use any technique learned 25% of the words or below. Other students learned 80% of the words. Based on evidence, the researchers concluded that learning methods such as flashcards or continuous questioning helped students retain memories. The same principles can be applied to anchoring memories in the head.

There is another method that appeared in ancient Greece, and thanks to the character of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it has become discussed in our time.

What are the memorization techniques?

  • Working memory training

Working memory (RP), also known asoperational, is a set of processes that allow us to store and temporarily use information for the purpose of performing such complex cognitive tasks as understanding speech, reading, using mathematical abilities, learning or reasoning. Working memory is a type of short-term memory.

According to the Baddeley and Hitch model, working memory consists of three systems and includes components for both storing and processing information:

Central control element: works as an attention monitoring system,which decides what we should pay attention to and what not, and also organizes the sequence of actions that must be performed to carry out the type of activity.
Phonological loop: allows us to retain written and oral material in our memory.
Visuospatial sketch: helps us manage and store visual information.
Episodic buffer: It is used to combine information from the phonological loop and visual-spatial sketching, to construct a holistic episode and to link with long-term memory.

We use a working (or operational)memory when performing various kinds of tasks. When trying to remember a phone number before writing it down. When we engage in a conversation, we need to keep in mind what we just said in order to process this information and express our point of view. When at school or university we take notes on lectures, we need to remember what the teacher said, so that later we can write it down in our own words. When we count in our mind the cost of our purchases in the supermarket in order to understand if we have enough money.

  • The method of loci or "palaces of memory"

Loci method (other names - method of places,palace of memory, palaces of reason, spatial mnemonics) is a mnemonic (that is, helping the development of memory) method, set forth in the ancient Roman treatises on rhetoric. Based on mental-spatial associations, the purpose of which is the creation, ordering and further use of all the contents of human memory. The use of this method of organizing and storing information can be observed in many works on psychology and neuroscience, despite the fact that it was also used in the first half of the 19th century in works on the topic of rhetoric, logic and philosophy.

Almost all the nuances of memory training known to us from the times of antiquity were described between 86 and 82. BC e. in the short anonymous textbook "Rhetoric for Herennius".

The loci method is often referred to as "mentala walk. " In essence, the method consists in developing memory through visualization: creating in your imagination a space in which you can store a huge amount of information. In other words, a person remembers, for example, a plan of a building or the location of shops on a certain street, or other geographical objects consisting of a certain number of different locations (places). When a person using the described method needs to memorize any facts, he kind of goes for a walk through the locations mentioned above and associates a fact (for example, a number that needs to be remembered) with one of the objects of his “memory chambers”, by forming a kind of image, logically combining a fact required for memorization and a distinctive feature of the location (for example, a room in a palace or an object in this room).

This method is often used in competitions.mnemonics, when the contestants have to memorize 500 different numbers in 15 minutes or a sequence of 100 objects, which takes only a few seconds to memorize.

Just watch the video below to see how effective this technique is at memorizing thousands of pi digits.

Since 1991, the world championships have been held inmemorization. The first one, held in London, was won by the British Dominic O'Brien. Currently, competitions are held in 30 countries of the world in the following disciplines: abstract images, words, names and faces, cards for speed, a sequence of cards for an hour, numbers for speed, numbers for an hour, binary numbers for speed, historical dates, numbers by ear ... Often, the processes that play a key role in the work of memory run into psychological and physiological problems.

Scientists decided to finally test in a clinical setting which memorization method is better.

Exploring the "chambers of memory"

Sherlock Holmes remembers everything, imagining thatstores pieces of information in the "chambers of memory". Now researchers have found that this technique actually works for creating long-term memories.

According to a study published in ScienceAdvances, by training with this method, the world's top memory champions can memorize an inordinate amount of information such as word lists, series of numbers, and decks of cards. But at the World Memory Championships, only short-term memory is tested, and only a few studies have examined the brain, as people use this method to improve memory.

“We were fascinated by how suchthe outstanding performance of memory that was demonstrated at the World Memorial Championships, ”said lead author Isabella Wagner, a female cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Vienna.

According to her, the loci method uses wellknown places or routes as a "skeleton" or "structure" for embedding new, unrelated information. A combination of prior knowledge - a familiar path - and new information helps improve memory.

To evaluate the loci method, Wagner and her teamattracted 17 "memory champions" - people who made it to the top 50 memory competitions in the world, and 16 people who were of the right age and intelligence. The researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans of the participants' brains, asking them to examine random words from a list. The researchers then gave the participants three words from the list and asked them to recall if the words were in the same order as previously studied.

In the second part of the study, they scored 50participants with no previous experience in mnemonics and trained 17 of them to recall memories using the loci method over a six-week period. The rest of the participants were in the control group (16 of them were trained using a different mnemonic tactic - “working memory training”, and 17 people did not train at all). They scanned the participants' brains again with fMRI as they performed the same tasks both before and after training. The researchers also asked them to recall which words were on the list 20 minutes and 24 hours after they were scanned with fMRI.

The team used this test to determine“Faint memories,” or those that could be recalled after 20 minutes, but not after 24 hours, and “persistent memories,” or those that could be recalled after 24 hours. Four months later, researchers re-tested the participants' ability to memorize and recall words.

What's the bottom line?

As expected, the participants showed the best andlonger lasting memory after training with the loci method than after training with a different memory technique or no technique at all. Participants who trained according to the ancient method showed a significant increase in long-term memories, but not a significant change in faint memories (or short-term memories that disappeared after 20 minutes) compared to control groups.

After 20 minutes, people who have been trained by the methodloci, remembered about 62 words from the list, while those who studied using a different method remembered 41, and those who did not train at all, remembered 36. After 24 hours the word people trained using the loci method memorized about 56 words versus 30 and 21 in the control groups, respectively.

Four months later, people trained in the methodloci, could memorize about 50 words against 30 and 27 in the control groups, respectively. What's more, world memory champions and participants who trained with the loci method showed similar brain activity when memorizing lists of words and their order.

The team also came across something unexpected:while both world champions and participants performed these tasks, their brain activity decreased in areas normally associated with memory processing and long-term memory, Wagner told Live Science. “This was somewhat unexpected for us, as better performance is usually associated with increased involvement of various areas of the brain,” she said.

In other words, they found that lessbrain activation leads to better memory. It seems that the loci method encourages the brain to work more efficiently. In addition, while the participants were resting, those who were trained in the loci method had increased brain connections between other causes important for long-term memory preservation.

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Pi is a mathematical constant that expresses the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Equal to approximately 3.141592653589793238462643 ...

Functional magnetic resonance imaging,functional MRI or fMRI is a type of magnetic resonance imaging that is performed to measure hemodynamic responses (changes in blood flow) caused by neural activity in the brain or spinal cord. This method is based on the fact that cerebral blood flow and neuronal activity are linked. When an area of ​​the brain is active, blood flow to that area also increases. fMRI allows you to determine the activation of a specific area of ​​the brain during its normal functioning under the influence of various physical factors (for example, body movement) and under various pathological conditions.

Mnemonics, mnemonics - aggregatespecial techniques and methods that make it easier to memorize the necessary information and increase the amount of memory by forming associations (connections): replacing abstract objects and facts with concepts and representations that have a visual, auditory or kinesthetic representation, linking objects with already existing information in the memory of various types of modification for simplify memorization.