Memory Essay

1549 WordsDec 5, 20127 Pages
Memory is the ability to remember something that has been learned or experienced. Memory is a vital part of the learning process. If you remembered nothing from the past, you would be unable to learn anything new. All your experiences would be lost as soon as they ended, and each new situation would be totally unfamiliar. Without memory, you would repeatedly have the same experiences for the “first time.” You would also lose the richness that memory gives to life, the pleasure of happy remembrances as well as the sorrow of unhappy ones. Scientists know little about what happens in the brain when it stores memories. However, they are almost certain that storing new memories involves both chemical changes in the nerve cells of the brain and changes in their physical structure. Research indicates that these chemical and physical changes occur in a tiny section of the brain called the hippocampus when a person stores new memories. The hippocampus is a part of a larger structure called the cerebral cortex, which controls higher brain functions. Such functions include problem solving and the use of language. Scientists have also found evidence that a substance called ribonucleic acid plays an important role in memory. However, much research will be necessary to discover the specific details of the processes involved. Psychologists divide a person’s memory system into three stages, each of which has a different time span. These stages are called sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Sensory memory holds information for only an instant. Suppose you look at a picture of a mountain. Information about the mountain passes through your eyes to your sensory memory, which briefly holds a nearly exact image of the picture. However, the image quickly fades, and it disappears in less than a second. For the information to last, you must transfer it rapidly to

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