How are memories made?
Your baby's first cry...the taste of your grandmother's molasses cookies...the scent of an ocean breeze. These are memories that make up the ongoing experience of your life -- they provide you with a sense of self. They're what make you feel comfortable with familiar people and surroundings, tie your past with your present, and provide a framework for the future. In a profound way, it is our collective set of memories -- our "memory" as a whole -- that makes us who we are.
Most people talk about memory as if it were a thing they have, like bad eyes or a good head of hair. But your memory doesn't exist in the way a part of your body exists -- it's not a "thing" you can touch. It's a concept that refers to the process of remembering.
In the past, many experts were fond of describing memory as a sort o ...more
One area of particular interest, and of which our understanding is quickly growing, is that of human memory. Our memories are astounding in their capacity for example, a young child learns about 10 new words each day, and the average adult can easily develop a vocabulary including over 100,000 words. It is the evolution of our memories that has, in large part, preserved our species. The key to our survival has been the ability of one generation to pass along its insights, innovations, and experiences to the next, so that they can improve upon them and progress more quickly forward.
Human memory can most broadly be defined as a function of the brain that gives us our ability to store and retrieve information. Science is fairly confident of the fact that there are many different types of memory, and many different mechanisms for their storage and retrieval processes. There are, potentially, as many types of memory as there are types of inf ...more