Short term memory seems to mean different things to scientists from what it means to ordinary people. Scientists define this aspect as what we remember after only 2- 60 seconds of exposure.
It is preceded by what is called the sensory stage which lasts less than 2 seconds. What is impressed on our consciousness during this brief sensory stage can be transferred into our short term capacity.
You can judge your short term oral or visual capacity by hearing a phone number once and then being able to write it down or by looking at an a number in a phone book and being able to dial it correctly.
In everyday life, we tend to give a different meaning to the term. We use the term for our ability to remember where we left things like our glasses or our keys. We also talk of our ability to remember appointments, people's names or facts we read about last month.
Technically neuroscientists would call this ability to remember things a few hours or days later as belonging to our long term capacity for remembering, rather than our short capacity. But such remembering does need short term memory Unless an stimuli (an event, action or idea) gets into short memory, we simply will never be able to recall it. So what can we do to improve our short Term Memory? There are several thing we can do to improve our capacity to remember.
1. In the last 10 years men and women in midlife have begun to complain about an inability to remember simple things. They misplace keys, glasses, reports. They forget appointments and the names of people they met for the first time less than a month ago. Their problem is caused by an excess of a chemical called Cortisol. Excess cortisol can also be a problem for the over 60 age group. To read more, go to Short Term Memory Loss
2. In order to remember anything, we need to be able to pay attention to it in the first place. Some people can not remember where they left their keys because they never focused on where they placed their keys when they put them down! If you are busy thinking about other things and do not give explicit attention to what you are doing, you will not remember ANYTHING you did while in such an inattentive state.
Remedy? Stop trying to 'think about things all the time' and just pay attention to what is before you. I know, this flies in the face of 'multitasking". But unless you pay attention, things do not enter into your Short Term Memory.
Here is an experiment for the next two days. Every time, that is EVERY TIME, you put down your keys or eyeglasses look at where you are placing them. Close your eyes for 2 seconds and SEE where you placed the item. Memory experts tell us that our memories are visual. If we make a clear picture of something, we are more likely to remember it.
3. Of course there is another way of dealing with short term memory problems. You can become more systematic. Set up routines. After an auto accident left me with a brain injury, I made a few changes that really helped.
First, I got two set of all my keys made. Then I bought a wall key holder and installed it by the door. Then I trained myself to hang up my keys EVERY TIME I entered the house. Result? I no longer stand in the middle of the living room wondering WHERE the keys are.
Next, I decided to put my wallet or purse on a certain bookshelf and trained myself to put it there EVERY time I came in from the store or being out in the car. True, there are a few times I forget but for the most part I can find my wallet when I need it.
As for reading glasses, a friend shared that she went to the dollar store with a newspaper and page from the phone book in hand. She tried on their reading glasses until she found a lens strength that worked. She bought 5 or 6 pairs @ $1.00 a pair and has placed them all around the house. She can always find at least one pair when she needs to read something.
4. But there are other things that can help. Research has shown that walking improves memory. You can find out more at Walking: an Anti-Aging Exercise
5. Also there is a an article based on the work of Vernon Mark M. D. about Reversing Memory Loss SPECIAL NOTE: Over the next few months, I shall add information on the topic of memory - including the list of memory enhancing techniques. If you want to receive notice of these and other articles added to the site, do subscribe to the RSS feed (See the left Navigation Bar)
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