Memory in Action

By James Marrs

It is no surprise that the human element often lacks explicit memory in which individuals don’t understand. Most researchers have proved that people can remember around seven items or words, give or take a couple. Most recent studies have indicated that number has decreased over time, to around four items, or words, on average. I question if the timeline of events is a role that affects this variable or if the general rule has always been around four items that we remember. An example of the timeline approach I mentioned is as more distractions raise, then the possibility of items remembered are less. Our society has moved at a very rapid rate of technological advances which has its benefits and risks. Working memory has often been referred to as short term memory, where you pick up pieces to a puzzle, from what you have learned, in hopes to use the information in the near future. Often, working memory requires individuals to be focused and goal oriented to move in a direction of progress, a lack of maintaining focus would cause higher levels of frustration which would be very intolerable, if persistent. By this, I refer to using our memories with action or other variables such as word chunking. This creates better opportunities for humans to remember important information. It is also necessary to learn using the hands-on traits of learning to restore memory.

Many people are different in this regard as some learn better and store memory by performing a task. Others can simply hear or see information and recollect it all the same. An example of this would be if a professor gives the same information more than once, than chances are, that it’s important information for classroom purposes, even testable. If you struggle with working memory a simple fix could be to get more sleep at night, exercise, or change your diet. If you would like to test your working memory, you’re in luck. These tests are called complex span tests in which two variable are looked at in regards to what the test is about. First, you generally have a math problem, then you have a word next to that math problem. Second, you must answer the math problem and remember the word that was given, at the same time. Last, if you answered correctly then your abilities are within the four variable item retention. Here’s how it looks:

Is (9-2) +2= 9? Yes or no…Dog
Is (7-4) + 3=6? Yes or no….Window
At the end of the test you have to recall the words in order.

The purpose of this is to measure recall as well as categorization. This also measures if your system is in cognitive overload. Cognitive overload is where your professor gives you two bits of information simultaneously and is expected to use information given. If recall isn’t present than too much information is present to be able to recall anything. Our ability to encode is typically systematic with a ton of different variables working together. The encoding process occurs when information is received and sent into our long term storage files.

Since working memory is the process of storing and manipulating information, it’s important to know how to study for that big final exam at the end of the semester, or any exam for that matter. It’s best to remember that repetition is the most crucial variable that we have going for us to help us remember information so cramming won’t work very well. In this computer age we can best describe our working memory as being mentally online. When we are mentally online, our minds can store, process, and manipulate the needed information during the course of our day. There is no single location in the brain to indicate the use of working memory, but several areas seem to work simultaneously to promote our cognitive abilities.

New information in working memory is temporary, as it is retained, information is either sent back to our long term storage file or it decays, this is important to keep in mind while studying as well. The duration of time spent while studying is important to mention as it’s a good idea to study in increments while accessing new information, then adding repetition, equals great study habits and better rote learning. Rote learning refers to the memorization process that takes place as we learn new things and sure enough, repetition is the guiding source.

More interactions between working memory and long term memory are present such as a continuous transfer of information back and forth. There are individual differences in working memory that we have that turn into performance issues in the classroom. Note taking is a key element to success in school as acquiring information and writing it down helps the storage processes too.

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