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You’ll NEVER Forget These 7 Incredible Memory Facts!

Are you ready for some interesting memory facts?

Our memory makes us who we are. From fondly retrieving past events to remembering where we left our phone, memory plays a key role in every aspect of our lives. It makes up our continual experience of life, providing us with a sense of self.

It’s easy to think of your memory as a mental filing cabinet, storing bits of information until you need them. In reality, though, your memory is a remarkably complex process that involves several parts of the brain.

If you’ve ever walked confidently into a room only to forget the reason why you went there, then you will understand that memory is full of surprises. We forget important things yet remember lots of mundane details we will never need. Why is that?

Read on for some of the most surprising and interesting memory facts!

memory facts
Photo by Gorodenkoff from Shutterstock

1. You can remember an unlimited amount of information

Given how much we tend to forget on a regular basis, it may seem weird, but it’s completely true that the human brain has an unlimited storage capacity for learning. This is one of those memory facts that experts were fascinated by when they discovered them.

But if that’s so, why do we still forget so much? A lot of evidence indicates that we are more likely to remember something if we encounter it regularly and try to understand it. According to experts, this creates and strengthens the connections between neurons and makes information easier to recall.

Just to give you an idea, a rough calculation by a team of experts from Northwester University suggests that the human brain can store 2.5 PETABYTES of data. This information may not mean anything to you, so here’s the equivalent: Our brain can store 300 years worth of TV, or 2,500,000 Gigabytes.

2. We can only remember a couple of things in our short-term memory

No. 2 on our list of memory facts completes No. 1. One of the main reasons why we seem to forget so much may have to do with the fact that, while our storage capacity for long-term memories is virtually unlimited, our short-term memory has a much smaller capacity.

The first studies into short-term memory, also known as “working” memory, indicate we can only remember between 5 and 9 pieces of information at any given time. More recent research says it may even be as low as 4! Want to try a quick experiment to convince yourself?

Read the paragraph below a few times, then (without looking back at it) write down as many words as you can remember.

This is the reason why memorizing large amounts of information just before an exam isn’t as effective as we think, so one good strategy to remember more of what you read and learn is to space out your studying. This way, more information goes from your short-term to your long-term memory.

Some memory facts are pretty awesome, aren’t they?

3. Learning new things leads to physical changes in your brain structure

This is one of the most fascinating memory facts we came across! It’s easy to think of your brain as a “magical box” where your memories, emotions, and thoughts are kept, but you may be surprised to learn that this complex organ has many things in common with other parts of your body, like your muscles and your heart.

It has been shown that “exercising” your brain in certain ways—whether that’s learning a new skill such as a new language or a musical instrument, or simply finding out new things from a book—makes physical changes in its structure.

Nowadays, modern imaging techniques like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) are actually able to visualize these modifications before and after the learning process occurs. Moreover, experts have found not only increases in activity (measured by blood flow) in certain areas of the brain but also long-lasting structural changes in terms of gray and white matter. This is definitely one of our favorite memory facts!

Want to find out more about the human brain? This visual guide explains how the most complex organ in our body functions!

memory facts
Photo by Jorm Sangsorn from Shutterstock

4. Being able to access information quickly makes you less likely to remember it

The more technology evolves, the more memory facts we discover. It’s wonderful to be able to access nearly any piece of information in a matter of seconds, and the Internet has clearly revolutionized how we find information.

While this may sound like a good thing, studies indicate there’s an interesting flip-side to accessing information so quickly and easily: if the brain knows it can access it again without too much effort, it’s less likely to make an effort to remember the information itself.

In other words, we no longer store as much information in our memory as we once did, as we know that Google is always there to solve the issue. This turned into a phenomenon called “The Google Effect”, and has become a main part of an ongoing debate as to whether modern technology, the internet included, is making us stupid.

Keep reading to discover other interesting memory facts!

5. (Almost) Forgetting something usually makes you more likely to remember it

Going forward with our list of memory facts, there’s one you probably haven’t thought about this way. Several studies have discovered that partially forgetting something and then making an effort to remember it is a key part of the memory formation process.

When we struggle to remember things, we’re basically training our brain and telling it, “This bit of information is important; keep it somewhere safe and easily accessible!” According to experts, this is a fundamental concept behind the “spaced repetition” technique, which is a study method whereby pieces of information are recalled at specific intervals to strengthen the memory of them.

The main idea here would be that you re-visit a piece of information when it’s almost forgotten, and your brain tries to bring it back to the forefront of your mind.

memory facts
Photo by YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV from Shutterstock

6. We can remember things that didn’t happen

No. 6 on our list of interesting memory facts is something that may shock you a bit. As time goes on, it can be pretty hard to know exactly how accurate our memories of a certain event are.

In fact, experts point out that for many of our childhood memories, it can be difficult to know for sure whether we are remembering the event itself or are simply recalling what our parents told us and what we saw from photos or home videos from the time.

Yet, this concept has a shocking implication that has been analyzed by psychologists. In a study, interviewers were able to convince 65% of people that they had committed a crime when, in fact, they had not.

… some memory facts do get you thinking.

7. There’s no single place where a certain memory lives; it’s found in many different regions

Last on our memory facts list, we have one that has something to do with where our brain stores information. Living in The Internet Age, it’s easy to consider your brain to be a kind of digital recorder that you can turn on and off when you’re watching, listening, or reading something.

This analogy would lead to the conclusion that the information is stored and neatly packaged in a “file” somewhere in your brain, from which you can access it in the future if you need it. Well, human memory doesn’t function like that.

Perhaps contrary to what you expected to find in our list of memory facts, our brains aren’t like a video camera. The human brain is an interconnected series of many pathways that diverge and converge from each other at many different points. Visual information lives in one area, auditory information in another, familiar names are stored in another, and so on.

So it’s safe to say that our memory is more like a complex mosaic produced by multiple parts of our brain working in tandem.

If you liked our list of memory facts, you may also want to read These 10 Dementia Facts Will Shock Your Brain.

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