Neuroscientist Answers How Memory Works, What It Is For and Why We Suddenly Forget Things

Neuroscientist Answers How Memory Works, What It Is For and Why We Suddenly Forget Things

Memory isn't just a collection of events. Instead, our brain intertwines the what, where, when, and how of experiences to give us the full picture.

Sometimes our memory works in inexplicable ways, making it hard to understand why all of a sudden we remember this and don't remember that, and sometimes, we keep forgetting things unexpectedly. In his recent study, Charan Ranganath, a prominent neuroscientist and author of the bestseller "Why We Remember," delves deep into the workings of memory, shedding light on its purpose and the mysteries of sudden forgetfulness.

Ranganath's research unveils six captivating revelations, each offering a glimpse into the labyrinth of our memory banks.

Memory: More Than Just Remembering Facts

According to Ranganath, memory isn't just about recalling facts; it's about bringing back the whole story of what happened. It's like pulling on a thread and unraveling a whole tapestry of memories.

What Are the Triggers that Bring Memories Back?

Have you ever wondered why certain memories pop into our heads out of the blue? It's all thanks to the hippocampus, a pivotal player in our brain's memory orchestra. This remarkable region categorizes memories based on context, making it easier for us to access related events. So, that familiar scent or tune can serve as a trigger, conjuring up a cascade of memories tied to that context.

Is Forgetting Bad?

But what about those moments of sudden forgetfulness? Ranganath reassures us that it's not necessarily a sign of a faulty memory. Our brains, in their quest to make sense of the world, create mental checkpoints. Crossing these thresholds, like passing through a doorway, can disrupt our continuity of thought, causing brief lapses in memory.

Emotions also shape our memories. Our current emotional state acts as a filter, coloring the memories we summon. It's why we often recall past events more vividly when our emotions mirror those we felt at the time.

What About Nostalgia?

As we get older, we tend to remember good times more than bad ones. Nostalgia, that mix of happy and sad feelings, becomes stronger, with age, keeping us connected to our past and preserving our emotional well-being.

Music: A Powerful Memory Trigger

Even people with memory problems, like Alzheimer's, can remember things when they hear familiar songs. Music taps into different parts of our brains, making it easier to recall memories linked to the music we love. Our memories are like a beautiful piece of music, weaving together the threads of our lives. Sometimes, we may forget a note or two, but the melody of our memories keeps playing on, guiding us through life's journey.