Human Memory Orginization

Chris Robinson
Frontiers of Science
Memory Essay

Human Memory Organization
Human memory organization, from the outside, seems to be quite a difficult thing to analyze, 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. Short-term memory is comparable to computer 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 recognize that it is a cup, even though the color 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: Science