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Sunday, June 10, 2018

What is memory?


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Leonardo da Vinci


What is memory? Here is my definition:


Memory is the faculty that enables an entity to store and retrieve information and data


I like to think of memory and the subconscious as opposite sides on a continuum. Memory is the established information while the subconscious is non-established information. There is not a strict line between memory and the subconscious. For example, as time passes, knowledge about past events becomes less clear and we might remember fewer details. This transition out of memory is very gradual and there is not a clear moment when a piece of information becomes subconscious.


I believe we establish information in two main ways: in our mind and in written form. Using our mind (via memory), we can access and store a large amount of information and data. Similar to taking an object off of a shelf, we can look into our mind and grab a piece of information to help us operate in reality. The other method of storing information is to write it down in physical reality. This includes books, pictures, handwritten notes and computer files. In this regard, computers also have a memory.


Although we can't describe every sense we encounter, I believe that the mere attempt to put these things into words helps establish them in our memory. Language makes our thoughts clear and without words we are living in a whirlwind of senses.



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