Humans since time immemorial have made attempts to comprehend what memory is, how it functions and why it becomes defective. Memory is what makes human beings unique from other animals. However, memory is among the most indefinable and misunderstood attributes of human beings.
The most common image of the memory resembles a cabinet filled with distinct memory folders whereby information is stored. In other words, memory is kind of neural super-computer of high speed and capacity. Nevertheless, in the light of the present psychological and biological knowledge, the metaphor might not be exclusively applicable, at the present, scientists argue that memory is actually more subtle and complex than that.
Structure and Functioning Of Memory
The human memory is not located in a specified section of the brain but is instead a process of brain-wide whereby various sections of the brain interlink with one another. Sometimes, memory is referred to as distributed process. For instance, the simple action of riding a bicycle is seamlessly and actively reconstructed in various areas of the brain: the memory on how to ride a bike is encoded in one area; the memory of the distance covered is encoded in another area, the memory of safety rules is encoded in another area, and the nervous feeling when vehicle veers dangerously close is encoded in another.
Every memory element such as sound, sight and emotions is encoded in same location in the brain, where it was originally developed. In case of recall, the memory reactivates effectively the neural patterns developed during first encoding. Therefore, a complex web nature can best symbolize the different elements of the memory, which join at points of intersection or nodes to form the entire memory of human being. This type of distributed memory makes sure that even if part of the memory becomes defective, some parts of the memory continue to function. However, neurologists are yet to understand how these parts of the brain are reassembled into entire coherent.
Encoding and Storage
The memory is not a sole unitary process but instead it involves various types of memory. Human long-term and short-term memories are stored and encoded in various forms and in distinct locations of the brain, for reasons which yet to be identified. Various studies on patients suffering from brain related diseases, accidents and other mental disorders exhibits some of the memory processes complexities. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology have made great strides but most of the actual mechanisms included remain elusive.