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Memory – Definition, Stages, Problems, and More

Definition of Memory

Memory is the sense by which the brain encodes, stores, and retrieves information. It is a confirmation of experience that guides future action. Our ability to remember is the foundation of our humanity. We don’t have one but many memories.

There are several types of memory located in different areas of the brain. Short-term, called working memory, allows us to retain information for a few seconds, long enough to use it. It is, for example, the case of the waiter who takes an order in a restaurant. Some long-term include:

  • Episodic, autobiographical memory, linked to moments in life
  • Semantic covers the general knowledge we have about the world.
  • Procedural contains knowledge related to an action or a series of gestures, such as driving, cooking, etc.
  • Perceptual can recognize faces, written words, etc.

And also, sleep is essential in the second phase of consolidation. People with sleep disorders have a more challenging time remembering things. For a  piece of information to become a memory, it is necessary to

  • Encode it
  • Consolidate it
  • Collect the information to reuse

It is normal to have lapsed from time to time. Several elements can disturb the retrieval: fatigue, stress, anxiety, the fact of having misunderstood or insufficient information at the time of its encoding, the point of not having it. Its problems can also be a sign of depression.

It is not always easy to differentiate between the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and depression in older people. The two conditions present similar symptoms: lapses, energy loss, withdrawal in oneself, sleep disorders, etc. With the difference that depression and its symptoms disappear, particularly memory problems!

The Stages of Memory

  1. Memory encoding – When information enters our system (from sensory input), it transforms into a form that the system can store.
  2. Storage refers to the nature of memories: where information is found, how long it is, how long it stays at any one time (capacity), and what kind of information is there. The way we store information affects the way we retrieve it.
  3. Memory recovery – It’s about extracting information from storage. If we can’t remember something, maybe it’s because we can’t get it back. When we are said to retrieve Information, the differences between STM and LTM become evident.

Memory Problems

Memory loss is the inevitable flip side of the human ability to remember. Forgetfulness is normal and happens every day – the brain cannot keep a permanent record of everything a person experiences and learns. And with age, an inevitable decline in memory capacity is typical. There are strategies to deal with a loss: adopt reminders like calendars and reminder notes, for example, or routinely organize the location of items at risk of being lost.

Memory impairment includes various types of amnesia resulting from Alzheimer’s, but rather brain damage or other causes. People with amnesia lose the capacity to recall past information, retain new information, or both. In some cases, the loss is permanent, but temporary forms of amnesia resolve independently.

Role of Memory in Mental Health

It is a critical component in some mental health conditions – abnormal function can contribute to distress or coincide with an underlying disorder. Forgetfulness is associated with depression; connections, such as those involving dreaded situations or drug-related cues, are integral to anxiety and substance use disorders; and post-traumatic symptoms are related to the memory of traumatic experiences.

Also Read: Stamina – Definition, Strategies, 5 Ways to Increase and More

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