It’s fun to make memories as a family! Last December, my wife, daughter, and I made some tremendous memories as we enjoyed a few snowy days at my parent’s home in rural Oklahoma. After the fun was over, it was time for my wife and me to go back to work and my daughter to hit the books again. Needless to say, we all struggled to remember everything we were doing and learning before our time away. My daughter was especially struggling to recall multiple-step math procedures and other more complex tasks for school.
How Memories are Made
Memories are made through a fascinating network of memory systems in our brains. Here’s an overly simplified explanation of how memories are made:
As soon as we hear or see something, it goes into short-term memory and stays there for less than 15 seconds. During this time, the memory of what we saw or heard flows into “working memory” when we think about it, we add it to other things we already know, and we encode it into long-term memory.
If all goes well, the memory is stored in long-term memory so we can remember it for varying amounts of time: we may forget details within a few days unless we do something to create long-term memories that could last our lifetime. There are two major long-term memory storage systems. One stores our personal experiences automatically. Another stores factual knowledge we have learned or memorized through an intentional effort on our part.
When we recall something, we retrieve it from long-term storage through working memory. For example, when we read an article, when we try to solve a math problem in our head, or when we try to get our thoughts onto paper, we are using working memory.
Does Your Child, Teen, or College Student Struggle with Memory?
Sometimes our memory just doesn’t work as well as it should. Problems may occur at any stage in the memory process. For more about this, read my article “When Memory Doesn’t Work.”
The good news is that our research-based Memory Training Program can help improve any aspect of this process for your child, teen, or college student. Call 817.421.8780 to learn more.
(c) 2014-2015, Monte W. Davenport, Ph.D.