What is memory?

To me memory shapes who we are. Without memories, we feel like we have not lived enough or at all. Further more the dictionary describes memory in many ways:

  • the act or fact of retaining and recalling impressions, facts, etc.; remembrance; recollection: to draw from memory.
  • a mental impression retained; a recollection: one’s earliest memories.
  • the reputation of a person or thing, esp. after death; fame: a ruler of beloved memory.
  • the ability of certain materials to return to an original shape after deformation.
  • Also called computer memorystorage. Computers.
    a. the capacity of a computer to store information subject to recall.
    b. the components of the computer in which such information is stored.
  • The ability to remember past experiences or learned information, involving advanced mental processes such as learning, retention, recall, and recognition and resulting from chemical changes between neurons in several different areas of the brain, including the hippocampus. Immediate memory lasts for just a few seconds. Short-term memory stores information that has been minimally processed and is available only for a few minutes, as in remembering a phone number just long enough to use it. Short-term memory is transferred into long-term memory, which can last for many years, only when repeated use of the information facilitates neurochemical changes that allow it to be retained. The loss of memory because of disease or injury is calledamnesia.

The list goes on.

I’ve always been especially interested in memory since A-level psychology. It was fascinating  to see the vast amounts of theories, theorist and experiments that were explored to explain how and why we have memory.  Memory branches our into all sorts of fruits that it is difficult for me to pin point what exactly do I want to do for my creative piece.

The subconscious mind – Freud

The unconscious or subconscious mind, according to classical Freudian psychoanalysis, is a “part” of the mind that stores repressed memories. The theory of repression maintains that some experiences are too painful to be reminded of, so the mind stuffs them in the cellar. These painful repressed memories manifest themselves in neurotic or psychotic behavior and in dreams. However, there is no scientific evidence either for the unconscious repression of traumatic experiences or their causal agency in neurotic or psychotic behavior.

Speaking of dreams

Probably most of us have noted from personal experience how reminiscent the dream is, and how well it pictures characters and scenes within the range of our experiences but which we are unable to voluntarily recalls When we recognize the dream images on awaking, we are not likely to be perplexed, but if the images cannot be placed some of us may tend toward a supernatural view of night life. However, we should be mindful of the fact that we have had many experiences which consciousness cannot identify. Sometimes this is because the experiences come to mind in fragments; they do not give rise to ideas by which they can be easily associated with some actual occurrence. Sometimes, too, the experiences were such as made but an insignificant impression, as far as emotional accompaniment is concerned, on the mind. Or it may be that the experiences we are unable to identify have been perceived subconsciously; it might be said that they passed so rapidly through consciousness as to be beyond the latter’s power of recognition when again met with.

We can’t always reply on our memory, Piaget came up with the theory of “schema” A cognitive framework or concept that helps organize and interpret information. Schemas can be useful, because they allow us to take shortcuts in interpreting a vast amount of information. However, these mental frameworks also cause us to exclude pertinent information in favor of information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs and ideas. Schemas can contribute to stereotypes and make it difficult to retain new information that does not conform to our established schemas.