Memory and Brain Function

Transcript of Neuro Nugget Video:

Have you ever wondered what exactly is memory? Memory is the process of acquiring, storing, retaining, and retrieving information over time. There are multiple types of memory, episodic, which is events, semantic, which is long-term knowledge, procedural, which is how to do something, working, which is short-term memory, sensory, sights and sounds, and perspective, which is forward thinking, that all serve to help us navigate our daily life.

Now how are memories made exactly? Sensory input goes through a process called encoding where it is transferred into usable electrical information. Memories can then be created and stored through the connections of neural pathways. How, where, and how long information is stored depends on the type of information. Usually it is stored in our short-term memory, and then with time and repetition, it can be moved to long-term. Most memory lies actually outside of our awareness. The retrieval process brings those memories back into conscious awareness. The retrieval process is different for short-term memory than it is for long-term memory. Short-term is often recalled in the order it is stored like a number sequence, but long-term memory is actually retrieved through association. Emotionally-charged or repetitive memories are actually easier to recall.

There are many parts of the brain associated with memory. There’s the hippocampus and the amygdala. These are related to conscious recollection. The hippocampus oversees our place, time, and person information, and without it, we would not be able to frame the past and the present. The amygdala helps us regulate emotional responses. This is especially important in social settings when we need to understand the influence that others may have on us. Because of this, it plays a part in attaching emotional significance to memories and can influence both how strong a memory is and how quickly it is formed. The hypothalamus controls the output of our autonomic nervous system.

Memories with close ties to this region can elicit a physical, visceral response. The cerebral cortex and neocortex, now they’re related to the retrieval attempt, and short-term memories are generally processed here. The neocortex is heavily involved in sensory perception, spatial reasoning, and language. The basal ganglia and cerebellum are related to self-initiated retrieval. Implicit memories that involve motor functions are also stored here, memories that involve habit formation or coordinated activities. Think of sports or riding a bike and motor activity. They’re stored long-term and it doesn’t take a conscious effort to remember them.

Our neurons are adaptable and to allow for synaptic growth and remodeling all the time. At our neurofeedback, we see this every day when we remap at our center. Because of the plasticity of our brains, there are multiple points in the memory process that can be disrupted. Stress, lack of sleep, your age, and your behavior can all impact the way we encode, store, and retrieve memory. Stressful situations can result in strong future memories but recalling memories during a stressful event may be very difficult. In short, chronic stress and depression can definitely lead to poor memory and don’t you forget that. Wanna learn more about your brain and how it functions? Call and schedule your brain map today.

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Posted on

April 12, 2023