4. Human brain memory
The memory manager, intelligence, uses many methods and processes to classify, organize, and rationalize the information contained in the brain memory. Below we are going to state the most important ones among the many that should exist.
4.a) Automatic memory and directed memory
Up until now, we have talked about the memory's automatic operation mechanisms; indubitably, you can influence which information save and which not.
The fact that the more someone studies a subject the more retains is nothing new. However the operation of the transfer from short-term to medium-term memory is unconscious, the brain detects interest according to the number of times it has dealt with a subject.
An important leap occurs when dealing with a subject on different days in order to memorize certain information. The memory manager will then find references to the subject in the most superficial layers of medium-term memory, and there will be a tendency to save more firmly, or, in other words, in the subsequent layers of medium-term memory.
A different case will be if the memory manager requires the saved information and the brain realizes the limitations of the information, understanding that better availability of the information would be suitable, therefore tending to improve the availability in the medium-term memory. It will also start to establish the information in the multidimensional system, creating the needed references.
When trying to pass an exam, the provision of some artificial references for better information retention could significantly help medium-term memory. Specifically, we are referring to certain mnemonic devices.
Useful examples are marking dates, figures, percentages, and similar information that are very mathematical with a special color, authors with another color, definitions with another, etc., but without using too many colors or other mnemonic devices! Maximum color should be four or five.
In any case, one should never force mnemonic devices, whether they work well or not, they must be neutral and not harm memory. An example of this is that of the line drawn over the date 25.7.52, which should help to retain this date but must not be a necessary condition to remember it.
However, sometimes, in spite of our effort and the knowledge that we are capable of doing so, it seems that human memory does not respond - that it refuses to work. The most common reasons could be:
- Not sleeping enough
- Excessive consumption of alcohol, and to a lesser extent, tobacco
- A true lack of interest
- Being very tense when studying, this notably limits the capacity used by the memory manager either when awake or when sleeping.
- One is not going to use the information in the near future or at least not in the way it is. A typical example is the learning of languages that one is not going to practice or attempt to learn them in math memory because languages normally develop in linguistic memory.
Do not confuse the tensions mentioned in the previous paragraphs with the situation of a student who has various exams very close together or an exam of a very lengthy subject.
Before the exam, students are very nervous, excessively nervous, and they feel like they do not know anything. These nerves appear when short-term memory overworks for its normal state –demanding a lot of effort, and nervous tension is probably the only way to allow this overload in these circumstances.
So do not worry if just the night before a test it takes to fall asleep a long time. The brain does not want to clean the short-term memory, because it is full of information regarding the test and, therefore, it tries to avoid or reduce the phase of deep sleep.
Anyway, I believe is a serious mistake to study all night before a test, because the connection between short-term and medium term memory would be very weaken.
Along with the mentioned feeling of not knowing anything, people also become more nervous when they cannot stop thinking about the exam's subject.
However, once the questions are public, nervousness disappears -a multitude of concepts vanishes from the mind and it begins to fill with information related to the questions. The more one thinks about the questions, the more information continues to appear, when a person is familiar with the subject, otherwise…
It is worth pointing out the existing connection between the previously cited reasons behind a possible malfunctioning of the human brain memory with the reasons that could provoke dysfunctions in the decision-making system, which we comment on in another section of this book.
This coincidence is due to the effect that can occur on brain memory if every time we study or think about a subject, we try to save it, consciously or unconsciously, in a different group of references.
In the study of fast responses development of intelligence, we stated that brainpower notably increments with its automation. One of its causes was that entry information goes directly in the prepared fields of the subprograms or functions, and once all the information arrives, the specific operation launches automatically.
In short, this development implies the development of pre-established structures or fields for information treatment. In the system of global information, these structures will be useful, if the brain needs them, for the storage or saving of information.
The development and improvement of these brain information structures can actively involve the individual in the system's efficiency process. We call this involvement directed memory.
Computer programs continually use this technique, organizing the information in groups of personalized fields that, in the final analysis, are information matrixes.
One of the memory manager's most efficient methods is a consequence of the rule of not memorizing what can easily be deduced using logic. In this case, logic means a specific personal logic associated with the event or information that you make yourself think that you know.
Actually, the trick is not to know, but rather to know what you know; which is not the same.
I hope to explain myself better with a simple example in which I can answer one question without having any specific related information in my memory. The one exception is that I have to know what I know and what I do not know. (It will be always the same simple reference in long-term memory. Moreover, it will be a very simple reference.)
Question: Who has longer hair, Susana or Julio?
Supposition 1: I have no link, no reference to this in my memory.
Answer: I do not know, I could imagine that…but I do not know.
Supposition 2: I know that I know because, in some way, this question (not the answer) has an associated reference in my medium-term memory.
Answer: Susana (It is assumed to be correct)
I went through the following process: as I know that I know because my memory has told me so, I look for the specific logic that I would have applied to save this information.
In this case, it would be "normally women have longer hair than men." Therefore, the answer is Susana.
The advantages of this method are, on one hand that the reference is very simple and already exists in medium-term memory; the only thing that one needs to do is to activate it for a specific case. On the other hand, in the majority of cases, by applying logic for the most common cases, there is no need to change the point of reference, which is what we would have done if Julio had longer hair.
Here is one more implication of this method: if we know what we know and do not remember the reference's sign, by default we will assume that this is the normal sign of specific logic. (It is not necessary to remember the normal one.)
If it were necessary to remember the different possibilities within math memory, it would require more work and more resources in the brain. This method admits variants but is especially suitable in the memory manager's intuitive fashion.