Friday, June 22, 2012

Memory and Reading

Long-Term Memory
Before I begin the next series on 'Visualising and Comprehending'  we will need to consider the function of long-term memory.

In the last series on working memory I discussed issues related to reading performance. Obviously success in reading depends on using working memory efficiently. It also depends very much on long -term memory. Long-term memory is where information is stored permanently. However, we do not store everything that enters consciousness. We have an efficient screening function in working memory that sifts and moves relevant information into long-term memory storage. 

I have reviewed two articles from Scientific America to explore the functioning this very important permanent store (some highlights have been captured below - go to the link to see the full articles).

Why Is Memory So Good and So Bad?

Explaining the memory paradox  | May 29, 2012  Scientific America

Do you remember what you ate for dinner last Friday evening? Chances are, this will be quite difficult, but not impossible. "But for at least a short while after your meal, you knew exactly what you ate, and could easily remember what was on your plate in great detail. What happened to your memory between then and now? Did it slowly fade away? Or did it vanish, all at once?"

"For many reasons, then, it would be very useful to understand how visual memory facilitates these mental operations, as well as constrains our ability to perform them. Yet although these big questions have long been debated, we are only now beginning to answer them."
"Memories like what you had for dinner are stored in visual short-term memory—particularly, in a kind of short-term memory often called “visual working memory.” Visual working memory is where visual images are temporarily stored while your mind works away at other tasks—like a whiteboard on which things are briefly written and then wiped away. We rely on visual working memory when remembering things over brief intervals, such as when copying lecture notes to a notebook. Without visual memory, we wouldn’t be able to store—and later retrieve—anything we see."
"Researchers at MIT and Harvard found that, if a memory can survive long enough to make it into what is called “visual long-term memory,” then it doesn’t have to be wiped out at all. 
In a recent review, researchers at Harvard and MIT argue that the critical factor is how meaningful the remembered images are—whether the content of the images you see connects to pre-existing knowledge about them. "

If we remember more, can we read deeper–and create better? Part I. June 1, 2012  Scientific America

This article considers the role of meaning, long-term memory and context.

If you visualize elements as vividly as possible in a familiar space that you picture in your mind you should be able to recall them by walking through that space and looking at the images of objects that you have placed there. The objects are  physical embodiments of ideas we were to memorise. This is the loci mnemonic memory technique that encapsulates the powerful effect that visualising has on the encoding and retrieval of information (follow the link to read more about this important took and the relationship to reading).

1 comment:

  1. Go to this Scientific America site to view a video about the brain and memory.