Memory is a tricky subject to discuss as there are still many things that we truly do not know about the subject. Much of how our brain works remains a mystery to scientists, but there is a little light that we can shed on the matter.
To get to the murky bottom of how we keep stuff in our heads and why some of that stuff leaks out from time to time, we’re going to have to indulge in a little bit of Neuroscience, as well as a touch of Psychology.
Our minds are truly wonderful creations, let’s hope that yours is good enough to remember the sheer mass of facts that you’re about to read!
Can you remember when you were born? No? Well then I guess your memory could stand to be improved a jot…
We’re just joking around with you! Your memory is (probably) absolutely fine and you (definitely) shouldn’t start worrying about all those childhood memories that are slowly, but surely, slipping through your fingers with each passing day. Just forget about it.
See what we did there?
Of course, for many people, it can be just as difficult forgetting something as it can be to remember something.
Before we dive into the things that we should forget and the things we should keep in our noggins, let’s dive into some memory basics.
Memories are stored in our brain. Duh. Imagine a thin, reedy gentleman, dressed in a three-piece suit, with a toothbrush moustache – if you’ve successfully conjured this image:
Anyway, imagine that lovely Michael Fassbender is talking in a well researched German accent and saying this:
“Historically, teachers and practitioners have been apt to describing the memory in terms of files. The notion that we pack our neat little memories away into perfect little mental filing cabinets is easy to grasp but woefully undersells the power of the brain.
Imagine being a child once more and consider being unaware of some basic concepts.
Let’s say, for example, that you see your first dog. Your well-endowed Mother leans down and points at the creature. She explains that this thing is called a dog. Later on, whilst trekking back home with the shopping, through the frozen Bavarian tundra, you are both accosted by a wolf. As your Mother buries her trusty hatchet into it’s skull she points and explains that this is a wolf.
Will you remember the difference between the dog and the wolf? Or will you simply be horribly scarred for the rest of your childhood?”
Thanks, Carl Jung.
Oh…are you a little confused, that’s alright, we’ll help you out of this one.
Here’s what the you’d remember, as a young Bavarian lad who’s had quite the day out with his Mutter. We remember things differently over time. We have short term memory and long term memory. So, in the short-term, as a child you would remember that particularly cute dog you saw at the Christkindlmarkt, but only for a day at most. The incident with der Wolf would be much more likely to stay in your mind for a long time (perhaps even the rest of your life), thanks to the intense moment that the memory was formed in.
However, thanks to the ingenious way our brains are formed, you will never forget what the general concept of a ‘dog’ or ‘wolf’ is and you will certainly be able to tell the difference and know which one likes a bone and which one likes a rusted blade splitting it’s furry dome.