Since we are born not knowing everything we need to know about the world, we must learn it through personal experience or second-hand experience. Memory allows us to avoid going through the same pain over and over to learn what to do or what to avoid. The ability to speak a language or read the words on this page are the result of active remembering. START SOMEWHERE today to strengthen the memories that you want to access. LIVE YOUNGER by strengthening your brain “muscle.”
We have different kinds of memory for different tasks. Repetition fixes memories in the two categories of long-term memory:
- Declarative memory, also called explicit memory, is used when you recite someone’s telephone number. These are the memories that can be recalled in our conscious awareness for awhile. They are the “knowing what” in our working memory that can be consciously “declared”. Depending on the strength of repetition, they may (or may not) be stored in our long-term memory.
- Nondeclarative memory, also referred to as implicit memory, is the “knowing how” that enables you to ride a bike or play the guitar. These motor skills of our “procedural memory” are outside our constant awareness and function almost automatically. They, too, are dependent upon repetition.
According to John Medina in Brain Rules, people forget about 90 percent of what they learn in class within 30 days. And, the majority of that forgetting can occur within a few hours. How do you create reliable, long-term memories, either declarative or nondeclarative? To convert short-term memories to the long-term form, you must repeat to remember.
This repeating to remember is termed, “maintenance rehearsal,” and we have all experienced it. To get information into vivid, long-term storage, this rehearsal works best if it is spaced at regular intervals. It’s probably why it was better to practice the spelling words a little every night rather than cramming right before the test. Our elementary teachers already knew what scientists spent a lot of time and money “proving.” It is beneficial to re-expose yourself at consistent intervals to information that you want to be able to easily retrieve later.
In this distracting world of ours, we must be intentional about remembering the good in our lives – useful information about people, events, health – and that includes counting our blessings. Be fearless about being willing to learn new skills. Repetition fixes memories. Do yourself a favor and learn something new today. My motto is, “everything is difficult before it becomes easy.” START SOMEWHERE repeating stories of the good things in your life. You can do it. I will help you.