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How are things stored as memories in the human brain?
What differentiates between short and long term memories, for example? What causes a memory not to move from short to long term? How does your brain decide which information is worthy of keeping, and what is not? This isn't just relevant forthings you can recall instantly, but also things that might resurface when prompted by a particular sight, smell, piece of music, etc.
asked in memory, biology, psychology

OneFootInTheGame answers:

Scroll down to Synaptic Learning.


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Maygs answers:

There are many theories on memory and answers to all your questions.

One is a simple method called rehearsal. Information is received and stored into the short term memory, which has a duration of 18 seconds maximum. If you apply any semantic meaning to it, and register it as necessary, then it is rehearsed acoustically and then transferred to the long term memory, which has a possibly endless duration.

Short term memories are that gathered by the senses, very short pieces of info such as phone numbers, or post codes. Long term memories are far more complex: stories or complex formulas, because you, as a person, applies meaning to it, therefore it is remembered.

There are also many explanations for "forgetting" information, ie; if it is not rehearsed, or if it cannot be made into an episodic memory (See War of the Ghosts experiment: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O87-WaroftheGhosts.html)

Look up theories such as Atkinson and Shiffrin's multi store model, or Baddeley's working memory model, should tell you all you need to know.

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