Arthur Bornstein (Founder, The Bornstein School for Memory Training) gives expert video advice on: Can I develop a photographic memory?; Where is short-term memory stored in the brain?; What are the most common reasons for memory failure? and more...
What is memory?
Memory is taking information that you see, that you hear, that's encoded into the brain. When you think, "It should come right back" - that's memory. You have than information coming back and it's encoded into the hundreds of millions of brain cells that we have in our subconscious and conscious mind.
What is "recall"?
Recall is when you think, and that information comes right back and is stored, but it comes back through some type of encoding and association that we have in our sub-conscious and conscious mind. Indeed recall is nothing more than bringing back information that is stored from a previous experience.
How are memories processed?
Memories are processed very quickly. You don't even realize what is happening. Memory is encoded through some type of a chemical reaction to the brain cell. It is stored and then it is retrieved when you think. This process happens within moments. You don't even realize all these things are working in your conscious and subconscious mind at one time.
What is "photographic memory"?
Photographic memory is when the individual can literally "photograph" information, whether it be reading a book and the pages come back in a visual memory, word-for-word, or looking at a total scene of hundreds and hundreds of items, and seeing a photograph is in their conscious mind that they can describe it. Very few people in this entire world have a true photographic memory, where they can read a page of material, close the book and recite it back word-for-word. That's a photographic memory. The average person, with a little training, can get close to that photographic memory, but it's very few people that have this natural phenomenon of a photographic memory.
Can I develop a photographic memory?
You can develop a near photographic memory by doing certain exercises where you visualize elements on a page. It may not be word-for-word, but it will come as close to a photographic memory as you will ever have in this lifetime. You have to do a lot of exercising, visualizing, concentrating and knowing how to extract the important elements off a page, if it's a page of printed material. There are certain exercises that we will be talking about where you can actually stimulate all the different parts of your brain so you can visualize to a much higher degree.
What is "short-term memory"?
Short term memory is when you hear some information, and it could last maybe a few minutes or a few hours, and then all of a sudden you go to retrieve it and it's not there. It's like meeting three or four people and not remembering their names, or you only remember for a few minutes. That's short term memory. It could last for a day or two days, and then it's gone. A lot of the time, the long term memory is affected by a distraction, mind wandering or stress. If the information is coming into your brain and if it's reinforced correctly, it will fall into the long term memory part of the brain. But it has to be reinforced. Otherwise, it could disappear within a few minutes.
Where is short-term memory stored in the brain?
Short term memory is stored in the part of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is located in the lower part of the temple. How are you going to remember hippocampus? So it won't be short-term memory, picture a huge hippopotamus, on campus going to temple - the lower part of the temple. Hippo, campus, temple, lower part: hippocampus, the lower part of the temple. Got the idea? That's where the short-term memory is located.
What is "long-term memory"?
"Long-term memory" is information stored in the subconscious mind for long periods of time. It can be 40 years, 50 years, or as you are a child at 3 years of age. Long-term memory can be triggered if the stimulus is correct. As an example, if I said to you, "Picture the grade school that you went to when you were ten years of age," you might be getting a picture coming to your conscious mind right now, and you might see some of your friends and your teachers. That is long-term memory. It is a matter of degree. If the motivation is there and the experience has been positive, without emotional blocks or trauma to the mind, long-term memory can serve you for the rest of your life.
How likely am I to lose my long-term memory?
Long-term memory is not disrupted like short-term memory. Even if you are fatigued or stressed, that long-term memory can actually still function because it is so reinforced in your subconscious mind, it's going to come back. Again, I mentioned the grade school you went to or the home town that you lived in. The important thing is the motivation of having it stored in the beginning; long-term memory is going to last you all the way to the end.
Where is long-term memory stored in the brain?
The long-term memory is stored in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. You're going to have to remember prefrontal. You know what the core is, like an apple core and it's coming from "Texas" or . Put the "core" with the "tex, cortex. So try to remember that. It's stored in the prefrontal lobe of the brain. So get the picture and you could be remembering it at the same time. Get the idea?
What are the most common reasons for memory failure?
The most common reason for memory failure is stress. For lack of motivation, they can go together and you're going to find the information will last, but if there is too much stress that comes into your life, trauma, you're going to find that you're going to lose information.