Are Human Memories Stored in a Dynamic RAM?

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It kind of looks like it is, at least superficially. Everyone knows that we forget a scary amount of stuff in the day or two after a lecture, or reading a book. Everyone also knows that it is a good technique to review as much as we can try to recall as much as possible several times after it is first “written”. It becomes possible to recall more of the information when we do this.

It is a bit different in a computer. Dynamic RAM remembers information, but very briefly, unless it is refreshed. The computer differs from the short term memory in that simply accessing the remembered data does not refresh it. A separate electronic action is required very frequently to keep the data intact. In the brain, recalling or reading the memory appears to refresh it. In the short term memory, that refresh needs to be very frequent. In the intermediate memory a little less so. Long term memory seems a bit more like a static memory.

Some experts believe that once something gets written in long term memory, it is always there. They suggest that the fading of long term memory is a decreasing ability to access the data, rather than a loss of the data itself. Whatever the truth is about this, the resultant loss of useful data is a huge frustration at times.

In my next post, I will write about repression, a complex mechanism by which access to long term memory is made difficult if not impossible.


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