What Is Memory

Memory – Meaning

Memory is not just remembering what you ate for breakfast or the name of the President. It is remembering your train of thought, where you are going and why, where you are, and what you are doing at any given moment.

It is remembering how to put a sentence together, turn on your computer, spell a word, balance your checkbook, and what someone has just said. But many men and women complain that they are sometimes not capable to do these things.

They are all of a sudden rereading things over and over in order to get the meaning, not finding things that are right in front of them, calling their sons by their husband or wife’s name, stashing their socks in the freezer, and becoming clumsy, awkward, and, for lack of a better word, “ditzy.”

You need memory to hold on to your thoughts and ideas long enough to organize them. But your capability to communicate your thoughts to others breaks down, if they slip away like quicksilver before you have the chance to arrange them in a logical sequence.

Does the following sound familiar? “I used to be able to store the whole task in my head from start to finish, with one thought succeeding to the next. I could count on being capable to have a thought and hang on to it while I was thinking the next thought and the next thought, and so on, in branches all over the place.

That doesn’t happen anymore. Now I have the original thought when I start thinking about a task, go on to the next thought, and then branch out maybe into a few more, only to discover that the original thought is gone. So then I have to go back and start with the original thought, but then I go there and lose it again.

I keep going around in loops with my thoughts. It’s very hard to think something throughout. I can’t hold on to the thought extended enough to get through a line of reasoning. It’s like my memory span has been cut short.”

Memory Retrieval

Memory retrieval also slows down as we age, but this doesn’t mean the memories aren’t still there. We just need to work at it harder. Often, the information we are looking for is the name of someone or something – a book title, a place.

As one woman puts it, “The lapse of memory gnaws at me for hours, sometimes days; it’s like struggling to open a locked door. And then, the door flings open and the name pops into my head when I’m not even trying to remember and I feel so relieved.” Somehow, all that time our brains are trying to locate the memory.



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