Our memory is one of the greatest superpowers of our brain. Without it, we are lost. Literally. The brain sometimes seems to have a will of it’s own. Memories may pop-up suddenly. You forget your pin code while you have used it for many years. But did you know you can help your brain to remember something? And did you know your brain works as a spam filter? Go on to read these 5 facts to learn more about your memory.
1. Your brain has a spam filter.
You only remember things, facts and events that are important to you. Your brain is programmed to know that what you pay attention to, is important. What you pay attention to will stay long enough in your working memory to eventually be stored in your long term memory. All the rest gets erased. Much of the information in our environment does not even reach our consciousness. If this information would not be filtered, we would be in a constant state of sensory overload.
2. You can force your brain to remember something.
In order to let your brain know you value something as important, all you have to do is repeatedly think about the information you would like to remember. If it is an event you would like to remember vividly you can relive the event by focusing on details and feelings over and over again.
3. If you can’t remember something, think about other related information.
Your memory processes information as explained by a model called ‘spreading activation‘. Concepts, words, and sounds are interconnected by networks in the brain. When information is activated, this associative network becomes activated automatically as well. By thinking of other related information, you will activate the network. Sooner or later you will remember the information you needed.
4. Plug your ears if you are trying to remember something important.
Sounds in your environment disturb your brain from retrieving information. If you need to remember something instantly, make sure to turn off music, look for a quiet place or plug your ears.
5. The formation of long term memories works better while stressed or after a good meal.
Information is strongly ‘consolidated’ in to long-term memory during high emotion or high stress states. Chronic stress, however, can lead to disrupted memory functioning.
The brain needs glucose to function well. After a meal you are able to store information more easily in your long-term memory.