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Memory - An Overview

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Memory is a psychological process of acquiring, storing, and retrieving information. For more details, read the article below.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. J. N. Naidu

Published At November 4, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 10, 2022

What Is Memory?

Memory is a psychological process of acquiring, storing, and retrieving information that takes place with the help of changes in the neuron; explain memory is nothing but recalling an incident that once you have experienced, any alteration or defect in the transmission or storage of information can cause distorted memories or memory problems. Depending upon the duration of storage and retrieval, memories are termed short-term and long-term. Memory is a crucial aspect of human life as it helps us remember people, work, fragrances, etc. In short, the circle of life may be a relationship, or professional gain is possible only because we have a boon called memory.

How Are Memories Formed?

It is believed that memories are formed due to the connections between the neurons, which are either strengthened or newly formed on acquiring new information. Therefore, it is said that revision helps you remember things better; the school of thought that persists is that it helps strengthen these connections between the neurons, which results in good memory.

What Are the Types of Memories?

Depending upon the duration it lasts, memories can be classified as short-term memory and long-term memory.

Short-Term Memory: Also referred to as active memory. This type of memory lasts for about 20-30 seconds. The duration and the amount of information stored in short-term memory are limited or less. It is mostly associated with current situations like a person's recent thoughts or activities. The information in short-term memory is stored in the conscious mind. Short-term memory is further processed and is termed long-term memory for incidences to be remembered in the future.

Long-Term Memory: These are the memories that are stored for weeks, months, or years and are retrieved when we come across anything related to the particular memory; for example, a certain fragrance can remind you of a particular person, visiting someplace can remind you of a time you had to spend there a few years ago. The most exciting fact about long-term memory is it is not stored in the conscious mind but returns immediately after experiencing a similar incident. The study suggests that any adverse incident that stimulates a biological process has a long-lasting impact on memory; therefore, any painful, alarming incidence is remembered for a long duration.

Why Do We Forget?

Even after having long-term memory many times, we forget things like answers to exams or the names of people or birthdays and anniversaries, and this happens due to various reasons like

  • The information was not stored, as it was not received correctly for the brain to register.
  • Once received the information, it was not revised or recalled ever after.
  • The information was delivered in a language or format that is not understood or is unknown to the receiver.
  • Some incidents are motivated to forget; they generally include sad memories or traumatic incidents. These memories are difficult to forget, and a person might require help from a therapist.
  • Age-related memory loss.
  • Medical conditions like Alzheimer's disease.

How Do We Remember for Long periods?

Human memory acts like magic, but even if a person has a very good memory, following some practices can help retain and recall information over long periods.

Writing Down the Information: Writing down acts as a reference for further processes, but it is also believed that when you write down a certain thing, you revise it in your brain twice, once when the thought is created and the second time when it is put down on paper this helps in retaining the information for a longer duration.

Association: Association or correlation, like relating a current incident with one you already know, has proved to help remember and recollect the information faster.

Repetition: Reparations help convert your short-term memory into long-term memory by encoding important information and strengthening the neurons.

Categorizing: Grouping or categorizing information helps in the systematic storing of information; as similar things are grouped, they form an association and become easy to recollect.

Imagination, Mental Picture: Whenever something is read, it is best stored when a mental picture is drawn in the brain, as images have a better impact on memory than words. Therefore, the facts you visualize are remembered for longer durations compared to the information beyond your imagination.

Memorization Techniques: Memorization techniques suggest that rehearsals, revisions, the use of mnemonics, and self-testing can help deal with minor memory problems.

Sound Sleep: Adequate sleep is the key to healthy living, and memory is a part of a healthy life; it has been reported that after a sound sleep, the brain is more active, and the information stored lasts longer.

What Are the Causes of Memory Loss?

Memory loss can be caused by various medical conditions like

  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Stress disorders.
  • Excessive use of abusive drugs.
  • Consumption of alcohol.

It can cause memory loss which can be for a shorter duration or can last for years.

How to Prevent Memory Loss?

Various lifestyle modifications and healthy practices can help us prevent memory loss.

The following are the ways to prevent memory loss:

Adequate Sleep: As mentioned above, it is important to have an adequate night's sleep, which keeps your brain active and helps retain information for longer durations.

Avoid Stress: Research has shown that stressful conditions do not allow the brain to function to its fullest potential, thus regressing memory. Therefore it is recommended to avoid stress.

Avoid Excessive Use of Alcohol or Abusive Substance: The use of substances of abuse or alcohol can affect the synaptic spaces and result in memory problems; therefore, such abuse must be avoided.

Stimulate Your Brain: It is very important to keep your brain active as it has been stated brain not used can be lost; researchers have found that individuals with jobs having mental functions are less likely to develop dementia when compared to others, so even in the old age activities like puzzle solving or numerical should be solved regularly to prevent memory loss with the growing age.


Memory is a psychological process of acquiring, storing, and recalling information. It can be classified as short-term and long-term memory depending on the duration of information stored. Memory plays an important role in maintaining our social relations and growth as a person. For example, it helps us remember the person we met or the previous incident. Memory can be stored due to the strengthening of neurons or the formation of new neurons. Various factors can affect memory, like age, stress disorders, excessive use of alcohol, lack of sleep, or medical conditions like Alzheimer's. Memory loss can be prevented by following lifestyle modifications and practices like revision or pen and paper.

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Dr. J. N. Naidu
Dr. J. N. Naidu

General Practitioner


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