The Brain: Memory

Video highlights from Brain Games

Can forgetting help us remember?

1. The hippocampus, located in the temporal lobe, is responsible for forming, sorting and storing our memories.

2. Neurological diseases affecting the hippocampus, as well as any injury to the area, can result in difficulty recalling recent memories and forming new ones.

3. A young man named Nischal Narayanam currently holds two world records in memory. When he was 13, he memorized 132 digits in one minute, setting the record “longest number sequence memorized in one minute.” He also holds the record for “most random objects memorized” having memorized 225 random objects in 12 minutes when he was 11.

4. A hormone called cortisol plays a role in helping us remember emotion.

5. Unless they find the topic interesting, the average adult’s attention span is 20 minutes. On the other hand, children’s attention span is usually close to their age in minutes.

6. Stress can negatively affect memory, but a recent study conducted at Harvard Medical School suggests that practicing meditation can help by regulating a brain wave called the alpha rhythm, which can improve memory.

7. Think our memories grow weaker with age? Not necessarily. New research shows that our ability to recognize and remember faces doesn’t peak until we hit our thirties.

8. Emerging research claims that a proficient working memory is a better determinate for individual intelligence than IQ score.

9. While scientists are unsure why we dream, recent studies suggest that dreams help strengthen our long-term memories and connect new memories to older ones.

10. Can forgetting help us remember? A new study in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that older brains may be cluttered with too much unnecessary information. Certain activities, such as playing an instrument or learning a new language, may help clean out some of the unwanted memories.  

11. The first World Memory Championships were held in 1991 in London.

12. Despite what we see in movies and on television, people with amnesia generally don't forget their own identities. People suffering from amnesia more commonly have trouble learning new information and forming new memories.

13. Competitive memorizers often try to remember the irrational number pi (3.1415926…etc). Lu Chao set the current world record by memorizing 67,890 digits.

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