How do we create a memory? With 3 "basic" steps:
ENCODING: this is when you notice an event or when you come across a new piece of information and your brain perceives the sounds, images, physical feeling, or other sensory details involved. According to www.human-memory.net/processes_encoding.html there are three or four main types of encoding:
- is the processing and encoding of sound, words and other auditory input for storage and later retrieval. This is aided by the concept of the phonological loop, which allows input within our echoic memory to be sub-vocally rehearsed in order to facilitate remembering.
- is the process of encoding images and visual sensory information. Visual sensory information is temporarily stored within the iconic memory before being encoded into long-term storage. The amygdala (within the medial temporal lobe of the brain which has a primary role in the processing of emotional reactions) fulfills an important role in visual encoding, as it accepts visual input in addition to input from other systems and encodes the positive or negative values of conditioned stimuli.
- is the encoding of how something feels, normally through the sense of touch. Physiologically, neurons in the primary somatosensory cortex of the brain react to vibrotactile stimuli caused by the feel of an object.
- is the process of encoding sensory input that has particular meaning or can be applied to a particular context, rather than deriving from a particular sense.
STORAGE: This must be one of the most #$%&! parts of learning, how much effort and time we need to invest so our short-term memory turns our knowledge in long-term memory? I bet many of us learned things that we can't recall now.
RECALL: The art of remembering things.... when we retrieve a memory we can often associate this memory with something else (like Christmas, I bet we all associate Christmas with a smell).
We are more likely to remember things we have learned when we associate this things with previous knowledge that is firmly anchored in our memory. We have a huge advantage, we already know a lot of things, so, we only have to find the best way to link our knowledge with what we are learning. I've always thought that "we must live what we learn" (it might sound stupid), is like watching a cooking show and cooking, you might be learning some things by watching the show but the knowledge will stick faster once we cook them. One thing I've learned is that the more we expose ourselves to a more integral learning environment the more easier we can learn. Now for example, every time I cook I try to narrate in my head the steps I'm doing inner voice: "Io taglio la cipolla" while I'm actually cutting the onion in the cutting board, it makes me aware of the action and it helps me retain more the information.
What do you do to help you remember things?