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Human memory: How we make, remember, and forget memories

Recalling a memory

When we recall a memory, many parts of the brain share information, including regions that do high-level information processing, regions that deal with our senses' new inputs, and the region that help coordinate the process, the medial temporal lobe.

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Human memory: How we make, remember, and forget memories

Human memory: How we make, remember, and forget memories

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-human-body/human-body/human-memory/

nationalgeographic.com

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Key Ideas

The different kinds of memories

We hold on to different kinds of memories.

  • Short-term memories last seconds to hours and long-term memories last for years.
  • We also have a working memory, which allows us to keep something in mind for a limited time by repeating it.
  • Declarative memories are memories you experience consciously, like facts or "common knowledge."
  • Nondeclaritive memory unconsciously builds up. These include procedural memories, such as riding a bicycle or playing the piano.

Where your brain keeps memories

By studying people with amnesia, it seems that short-term and long-term memories don't form in precisely the same way, nor do declarative and procedural memories.

  • Emotional responses such as fear occur in a brain region called the amygdala.
  • Memories of learned skills are associated with the region called the striatum.
  • The hippocampus is essential for forming, retaining, and recalling declarative memories.
  • The temporal lobes play a critical role in forming and recalling memories.

How we experience memories

Memories are held within groups of neurons called cell assemblies. They fire as a group in response to a specific stimulus, such as recognising your friend's face.

The more neurons fire together, the more the interconnection of the cells strengthen. We experience the nerves' collective activity as a memory.

Memory consolidation

For a short-term memory to become a long-term memory, it must be strengthened for long-term storage. The process is called memory consolidation and occurs using several processes.

Long-term potentiation consists of individual nerves changing themselves to grow and talk to their neighboring nerves differently. The remodeling modifies the nerve's connections, which makes the memory stable.

Recalling a memory

When we recall a memory, many parts of the brain share information, including regions that do high-level information processing, regions that deal with our senses' new inputs, and the region that help coordinate the process, the medial temporal lobe.

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