Memory Essay, Research Paper

How to imrove Memory

Memory is defined as the accuracy and ease with which

a person can retain and recall past experiences

(Webster?s Dictionary, pg. 611). It is often thought

of as a capacity, such as a cup, that could be full or

empty. A more common comparison is one to a computer.

Some minds, like computers, can have more ?software?,

being able to save and recall more experiences,

information, and memories than others can. And like a

computer, minds can be upgraded. This is not done with

a simple installation of a chip, but by following a

number of small procedures that will enhance and

sharpen a memory. As people age, many people believe

that the loss of memory is inevitable. Once people go

over a certain age, they begin to lose their memory

and will be thought of as old and forgetful. People

who forget things often complain about a bad memory,

but in most of these cases these people never took the

time to learn whatever they thought they could

remember. Most scientists believe there is no such

thing as a good or bad memory, only good and bad

learners. Depending on the amount of attention a

person gives something depends on how well a person

will remember that fact or event (Reich, pg. 396).

Beginning at the age of 50, people of similar ages

begin to differ more and more from one another in

their mental performance. Some memories drop

noticeably, but many stay the same or even rise. Most

investigators agree that no mental decline occurs

before the age of 65 or 70 that affects a person?s

ability to function in the real world (Schrof, pg.

89). In many societies still today, such as in China,

elders are considered the wisest and are very well

respected. There are two types of memories, long and

short term. Anything remembered under 30 seconds is

considered short-term memory, and anything after that

is considered long-term memory (Kasschau, pp. 57-58).

Endell Tulving has broken it down even further into

?episodic? and ?semantic? memories. Episodic memory is

remembering specific events or names. Semantic memory

refers to general knowledge, like speaking a language

or doing math problems (Corsini, pg. 355). Many things

can be done to increase and keep a person?s memory

sharp. Seeking variety provides a broad range of

experiences that provide reservoirs of knowledge to

search through in old age. A willingness to try new

things and improvise gives that mind more experience.

People who are at peace and find life fulfilling have

a memory that is stronger and lasts longer than those

who are often angry or depressed do. Strengthening a

memory can start during childhood. Eating right as a

baby leads to strong, healthy brains, while

nutritional deficits can permanently impair mental

functions. Getting lots of stimulation and staying in

school are two ways to make your memory last longer.

Enriched environments cause brain cells to grow as

much as 25 percent more than those in bland

environments (Schrof, pg. 91). When a person reaches

young adulthood, making many friends can keep a person

sharp. People with many friends often score higher of

cognitive tests and are able to adapt better to new

situations. Finding a mentor and marrying someone who

is smarter than you help also, leading you to strive

to match your mate?s abilities (Schrof, pg. 91). As a

person enters middle age, putting away money for trips

can be beneficial. People with extra money can treat

themselves to mind nourishing experiences like travel

and cultural events. Achieve major life goals now to

avoid burnout. People who head into retirement

fulfilled will feel at peace with their

accomplishments (Schrof, pg. 91). When a person enters

the late sixties, they should search for things that

continue to challenge them and intrigue the mind. In

other words, do not get bored. Doing things that make

you feel like you are doing something constructive

also helps. Those who do not feel like they have no

purpose and tend to burn out. Taking a daily half-hour

walk can increase your scores on intelligence tests.

Too much exercise at too much of an intense pace

hinders the memory (Schrof, pg. 91). Neurologists

today are finding that later in life the brain stops

producing a hormone involved in the memory process,

acetylcholine. So far results have shown that drugs

can act as the hormone to recharge the memory. Another

method of remembering more is called chunking.

Short-term memory is limited in its duration as well

as in its capacity. Your short-term memory can store

and retrieve about seven unrelated items. After you

already have your immediate memory filled, attempting

to store more will cause confusion. In order to store

more information and avoid confusion, grouping items

into ?chunks? will allow for a person to remember

more. Using the initials of a string of words can

minimize three or four unrelated items into one. Items

that are often minimized are items such as phone

numbers and names of favorite radio stations

(Kasschau, pp. 57-58). There are many elderly people

who are or have been considered great people with

great minds. The late Mother Teresa was considered by

all to have a great mind, and she was in her late

eighties. Nelson Mandela is also over eighty and is

admired by many because of his experiences and mind.

Grandma Moses has to be one of the more popular of old

great minds, painting and remembering many of her

experiences past her 100th birthday. It seems everyday

more theories come out about how memory can be

improved and kept sharp. Most are simple everyday

steps that the majority of people never think about,

some are more complicated than average person will

understand. Even today researchers are no where near

completely understanding memory. With all the

continuing study of the memory going on, it is safe to

say that much more advice will come out in the future

about how to strengthen memory. With the continuing

knowledge about memory still coming out, no one knows

how much humans will be able to expand the strength of

the average memory. With so little of the brain being

used at this point in age, maybe in the future more of

the brain will be available for use. This would no

doubt lead to the expansion of memory. One final

comparison that the memory can be made to is a car.

Lots of cars break down, but with the right

maintenance and tune-ups many never do. BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Corsini, Raymond. ?Memory.? Encyclopedia of

Psychology. Vol. 2 2. Kasschau, Richard A. Glencoe/

McGraw-Hill. Understanding Psychology. Columbus, OH:

Glencoe/ McGraw ?Hill, 1995. 3. Reich, James R. ?The

Eyewitness.? Skeptical Inquirer (Summer 1993):

394-399. Rpt. in Corrections, Vol. 5: Social Issues

Resources Series, Inc., 1993. Art. 13. 4. Schrof,

Joannie M. ?Brain Power.? U.S. News and World Report

(November 28, 1994): 88-92. Rpt. in Aging, Vol. 4:

Social Issues Resources Series, Inc., 1994. Art. 79.

5. Webster?s Dictionary including Thesaurus. Chicago,

Illinois: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, 1992.__________________________________________________

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