Formation and Maintenance of Memories in The Brain

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Memory is the result of what humans learn through experiences from birth. It is where information about "what happened, when and where, and the worth of our experience" is stored (Gazzaniga, Ivry, & Mangun, p. 380). People base their daily decisions on this information. All of the data and information combine to generate a reference plan and mapping of everyday actions. Memory models include sensory memory, short-term memory, working memory, and long-term memory. Memory has three stages: encoding, storage, and retrieval.  Many parts of the brain are involved in learning and forming memories and it involves neural circuits. The area of the brain now known to be mainly responsible for memory is the “the medial temporal lobe memory system and it is made up of the hippocampus and the surrounding rhinal and parahippocampal cortices” (Gazzaniga et al., n.d, p. 382). The prefrontal cortex is also involved in stages of memory such as storage and retrieval. The first step of memory is encoding and has two parts: acquisition and consolidation. Acquisition is the incoming and perception of the information from the experience as it happens through the senses. When the stimuli is impactful enough, for example touch, taste, or smell and so on, it’s acquired and stored in short term memory. Consolidation starts after this process and it can happen over a very short or long time. The Hyppocampus and the frontal cortex are responsible for determining when those sensory inputs are worth being stored. Storage is the stage through which the information acquired is kept. Retrieval is the process accessing the stored information. Retrieval prevents putting of hand on the hot stove because one would remember how much it hurts or not go on a date with the thirty five year old guy who lives in his best friend’s basement while pursuing a rap career.

Theoretical Similarities and Differences of Working Memory to Long-Term Memory

Working memory and long term memory are different stages of memory formation. Information kept in our brain for a long period of time is referred to as long term memory. Conversely, information used during a specific task that is relate solely to that task comes from working memory which is an extension of the concept of short term memory and is used for actions that are used immediately while in the midst of the action with no need to rehearse. . People use working memory while following a Google recipe to bake a pie but if one has never baked before, he/she uses long term memory to retrieve information while cooking, say the grandmother’s pie recipe. When using long term memory one can remember the experience of being with grandmother, remember her smell, her smile, and how she use to specifically put the ingredients in a certain order. There is good information in this paragraph, but it is not referenced, and this reduces the score in this area of the rubric. The example is good but needs to be written without using first person.

When It Is Adaptive To Remember and Adaptive Ways to Forget

Memory itself is adaptive, and a person remembers what he/she judges to be important through experience for survival. Gazzaniga, Ivry, & Mangun state that “Learning and remembering information about the world around us enables us to make predictions about the future from our past experiences.” (Gazzaniga, Ivry, & Mangun, p. 380). The brain makes selective decisions of keeping or rejecting information. This process is the organic process that allows people to progress, be save, and survive as species. One acquires new information that is deemed useful to survival and evolution and it saved in the long term memory. Some information from short term or working memory is useful during specific task and disregarded when no longer needed. Remembering or forgetting help in executing what is learn in the past, make decisions and solve problems. It’s adaptive to forget information that is not useful to survival of a person. For instance, one can perform a certain task using the skills retrieved from working memory but not stored in the long term memory if he/she do not see a need for it in future.

Accuracy of Memories

Memory can be biased. Memory comes from people’s experiences which is filtered through their perception. Information can be transferred from short term memory to long term memory if the brain judged it as pleasant or needed. The inaccuracy of our memory based on people’s perception of the experience can be seen in many aspect of life. The brain can decide to store information about eating ice scream in the parietal lobe if it makes you feel better and cope with difficult times instead of storing that experience in the frontal lobe as a regular eating experience. Imagine two people on election day who voted for two different candidates, one could be happy and remember this day as one of the best days of his/her life when it is in fact the complete opposite for the other one whose candidate did not win. It has also been shown that memory can be biased by factors such as neglect as one can think of being neglected from the judgement that he/she is not viable for a certain position ,say leadership position, when he/she is truly unqualified.

Importance of Knowledge of Brain and Memory in Helping Victims of Memory Problems

Science is highly advanced today. There are more data and knowledge about matters of the brain than ever before. This knowledge is useful in helping patients to prevent or limit memory lost in cases of amnesia such as H.M’s case by using appropriate technology to determine brain problems and the relevant treatment. Prevention of severe amnesia is possible by not performing bilateral resection of the hippocampus. People with some memory lost can still learn new task if they undergo technological memory treatment that bring back the initial memory, allowing researchers to teach patients new information that can improve poor memory.

Comparison of the Role Age and Environmental Play

Memory is formed through experiences at every age and stages of people’s lives. Memory mostly come from the experiences that are shaped by the environment. Environment plays an important role in how memory is conceived, and so does age. Memory is often associated with where actions took place making the environment a key component in memory formation(THE SAGE HANDBOOK OF APPLIED MEMORY) .Age plays an important role as well. In order for people to have relational memory they need to have lived it before which means they need to be older at least by a few hours than when the event originally happened. Therefore, children’s brain is forming rapidly and they have the ability to learn more in areas such as language and age appropriate new skills more than someone in their old age. Moreover, memory is sharper at certain age which demonstrates the important role of age in memory.


Gazzaniga, Michael; Ivry, Richard B.; Mangun, George R.. Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind (Fourth Edition) (Page 380). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

(2017). Retrieved 18 March 2017, from

Anderson, J. R., & Milson, R. (1989). Human memory: An adaptive perspective. Psychological Review, 96, 703–719.

Perfect, T. J., & Lindsay, D. S., M. Smith (2014). The SAGE handbook of applied memory. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Nairne, J. S. (2016). Adaptive Memory: Fitness-Relevant “Tunings” Help Drive Learning and Remembering. Evolutionary Psychology Evolutionary Perspectives on Child Development and Education, 251-269. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-29986-0_10

April 19, 2023

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