Human Memory Organization.


Human memory organization, from the outside, seems to be quite a difficult thing
to analyse, and even more difficult to explain in black and white. This is
because of one main reason, no two humans are the same, and from this it follows
that no two brains are the same.

However, after saying that, it must be true that everyone\'s memory works in
roughly the same way, otherwise we would not be the race called humans. The way
the memory is arranged, is probably the most important part of our bodies, as it
is our memory that controls us.

I think that it is reasonable to suggest that our memory is ordered in some way,
and it is probably easy to think of it as three different sections : short term,
medium term, and long term memory.

Short Term : This is where all of the perceptions we get come to. From the
eyes, nose, ears, nerves etc. They come in at such a rate, that there needs to
be a part of memory that is fast, and can sift through all of these signals, and
then pass them down the line for use, or storage. Short term memory probably has
no real capacity for storage.

Medium Term : This is where all of the information from the short term memory
comes to be processed. It analyses it, and then decides what to do with it (use
it, or store it). Here also is where stored information is called to for
processing when needed. This kind of memory has some kind of limited storage
space, which is used when processing information, however the trade-off is that
is slower than Short term memory.

Long Term : Long term memory is the dumping ground for all of the used
information. Here is where the Medium term memory puts, and takes it\'s
information to and from. It has a large amount of space, but is relatively slow
in comparison with the other kinds of memory, and the way that the memory is
stored is dubious as we are all knows to forget things.

There is quite a good analogy in Sommerfield (forth edition p24-p25). Short term
memory is comparable to computers registers, medium term (Working memory) is
like a volatile storage place for information, and long term memory is like hard
disk storage.

I think that this is quite a good way of describing our own memory hierarchy.

It seems that when information is being processed, and then in turn stored, it
is not being stored as raw information such as black, round etc., but is being
stored as what we see. For example, if we see a red cup, we store the
information about the cup together, i.e. it\'s red, how high it is, what shape it
is. Now if we see a black cup, we still recognise that it is a cup, even though
the colour has changed.

Now, it is clear that if the small amount of storage capacity in short term
memory did not pass on the information quickly to the working memory (medium
term memory), then as new information comes in, the old information will be
forgotten. Like wise, if working memory tried to store too much, with more being
passed to it from short term, again there will be information loss.

The way that memory gets around this problem, is not unlike that of structured
programming. Here, tasks are divided into different steps (while, and if loops),
so as the different tasks that are contained in one problem can be tackled be
the short term memory in stages. This means that all of the related information
is loaded in stages, the single task is solved, and the memory gets updated with
the next task, until the whole problem is solved.

This way of working, means that there is no need to load unrelated information
at the same time, saving on time, and work that the memory has to do.

Category: Technology