The brain is undoubtedly the body’s most crucial organ, as it coordinates and controls actions and reactions. It makes us feel, think, store information, and create memories.
You can live without your arms and legs. Unfortunately, you can’t live without a brain. The brain makes us humans.
However, there has been a series of debates over the brain’s storage capacity. Most people compare the brain’s storage function to storage space in mobile devices, laptops, and other gadgets with storage limits.
Now, here’s a crucial question many are asking.
How much memory can a brain hold?
The human brain is unique. Unlike storage space in electronic gadgets, our memory storage space can expand.
Your storage space may be a few gigabytes, similar to what USB drives and iPod has. But that memory increases when neurons start combining. This combination can cause your brain’s memory to increase to about 1 million gigabytes or 2.5 petabytes.
Continue reading for more details.
Forms Of Memory Storage
First, what’s memory? Memory implies the ability to collect information, store and retrieve it from the brain.
Understanding the various forms of memory storage is a giant step towards understanding how the brain works.
Three forms of memory storage exist. These include sensory, short-term, and long-term memory. Each stage has a unique length of time information remains stored in the brain.
Let’s glance through them briefly.
What is sensory memory? As the name implies, sensory memory allows an individual to retain sensory information’s impression, even after the original stimulus ends.
A fast-moving light in a dark place is an excellent example of sensory memory. What do you experience when you gaze at the traffic light while driving down the road? The light appears to leave a trail. Isn’t that so? That’s what sensory memory is about.
You can’t control sensory memory consciously. Unlike short or long-term memory, it doesn’t involve high-level cognitive function.
Short term memory:
What’s short-term memory? Short-term memory doesn’t hold too much information. Information stored in it doesn’t last for long. It only stays for 20 seconds. After that, you may entirely or partially forget.
Research indicates that this form of memory can hold 7 +/- items. Information can also move from your short-term to long-term memory.
So, how does information move from short-term to long-term memory? It’s simply via constant rehearsal. An example is repeating your mobile number or bank account number several times at a stretch.
While rehearsing, any disturbance can make you forget one or more numbers. But that’s because the information is still in your short-term memory. Once it crosses over to your long-term memory, you can easily recall the information when need be.
But let’s not forget that certain factors contribute to poor memory. So, even if you have information stored in your long-term memory, there’s a chance you might still forget. We will discuss those factors that can cause forgetfulness later on.
What’s long-term memory? You can remember the Christmas celebration even though you were just ten years old. And now you’re forty years.
Why is that possible? It’s because the information has moved from short-term memory to long-term memory.
Long-term memory not only has a massive storage capacity. It also stores memories for a lifetime. Once information gets to your long-term memory, it hardly leaves. Lifestyle, genetics, or, perhaps, medical problems are the possible factors that can make you forget information stored in your long-term memory.
What Causes People To Forget Things?
Have you experienced a situation where you couldn’t remember some of the information you presumably stored in your memory? Another scenario might be during an exam. You have read for weeks, but you can’t remember most of the things you read when it’s time to answer questions.
Has this ever happened to you? Do you forget things easily? If yes, then these factors may be responsible for that.
You failed to store:
Making eye contact is just one step in information storage. You still have to read, study, and repeatedly rehearse to store the information successfully.
Until the information ends up in your long-term memory, you haven’t stored it. So the reason we sometimes lose information may not be forgetfulness. The truth is, it never made it to your long-term memory storage in the first place.
We can summarize this by saying the problem is “encoding failure.” You were unable to encode and store the information in your long-term memory.
Do you have memories that made you feel depressed whenever you think about them? After knowing the psychological impact such memories can have on you, how did you react?
Desired or motivated forgetting is a deliberate effort by an individual to forget an ugly experience. It could be a terrible thing that caused a close friend or relative’s death, losing a job, missed opportunity, etc.
Two types of motivated forgetting exist. These include suppression and repression. Suppression is a conscious effort, while repression is an unconscious effort.
There are memories that not only compete but also interfere with other memories. When new information stored in the brain is similar to the one stored there, interference will likely occur.
Inability to retrieve information:
You know the information is somewhere in your memory, but you can’t retrieve it. It seems like it has vanished off your brain.
The inability to retrieve and use information stored in the memory is one of the significant causes of forgetfulness.
So, why do we have problems retrieving information most times? A possible explanation for this would be the decay theory.
This theory explains that whenever a new theory is formed, the brain creates a memory trace. Over time, this trace begins to fade away. And failure to access and rehearse it can lead to a total loss.
However, there’s an issue with this theory. And that issue is that most memories aren’t retrieved or rehearsed for many years. Yet, they remain stable in our brains.
How To Improve Brain Memory Power
We all experience forgetfulness. But that happens when we get busy. However, no one enjoys being forgetful. It’s frustrating and costly. Forgetting the answer to specific questions during an exam can be very disappointing too.
Numerous factors contribute to poor memory, such as genetics, health-related, or lifestyle. It might be challenging to fix the health-related ones. But if the problem is caused by one’s lifestyle, making a few changes can prove helpful.
Here are several ways to improve your memory in no time.
Consume less sugar:
How do you classify your diet? Is it always sugar-laden? If yes, then that’s a significant threat to your brainpower. Eating refined sugar does not only have the power to cause other chronic diseases. It can also cause cognitive decline, most especially in the brain area that focuses on short-term memory.
Give fish oil supplement a try:
Consuming fish oil will slow down cognitive decline, including offering your body other desirable benefits. Fish oil contains Omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Create time to meditate:
How often do you meditate weekly? If you don’t at all, you’re missing out on something massive. Meditation can help improve your memory in no time. Research shows that it helps to enhance the grey matter in the human brain. And as you know, grey matter boasts more neuron cell bodies.
Have a proper sleep:
Sleeping plays a massive role in memory consolidation. This involves the movement of information from short to long-term memory. Poor quality sleep can cause poor memory.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle can adversely affect the brain’s health, including your general well-being. The brain needs exercise, just like the body does. It helps to improve memory and help prevent cognitive decline.
The human brain is complex. It’s what makes us humans and the reason we are light years away from the early men.
The brain stores information in a unique way. And what makes the brain special is its ability to increase its storage space.
Understanding the various forms of memory, the reason people forget things, and how to improve brain power is crucial. We focused on these areas in this post.