We like to think our memory works similarly to making a grocery list. All we have to do is jot down the things we don’t want to forget. Perhaps the writing fades over time, but the notes are there somewhere, holding an accurate account of what we experienced.
Unfortunately, memory is neither that simple nor reliable in all circumstances. Some people are born with better memory, and some are more forgetful. While we can’t change our inherent abilities, we can do things to keep preventing natural decline in the brain’s memory over time.
The Three Parts of Memory
Memory functions in three steps: Encoding, Storage, Retrieval. (1) When we learn or experience something, our brain has various ways to “encode” a memory, including sights, sounds, and other sensory stimuli. Once the information is encoded, it may be stored in short or long-term memory, or perhaps not stored at all. The last step is retrieval or remembering, and this is where issues can arise over time.
The brain naturally begins to change as we get older and become less efficient at storing and retrieving things we hope to remember. (2) The good news is that we can keep our brains functioning well by caring for our memory skills, just as we do other aspects of our health and wellness.
Four Steps to Keeping Your Brain Sharp