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Remembering with the Ears and Eyes: Auditory Versus Visual Memory

Dec 25, 2007
The best way to create and build memories is to experience them, usually with the body and the mind. There are two types of memory: short-term and long-term. Each one feeds off the other and works in combination in order to produce and eliminate recollections. Two kinds of short-term memory are auditory memory and visual memory. Both represent some of the most important portions of information that is registered and processed in the brain.

The development of memory
Human memory, like the memory of most creatures, is often built upon the senses. Without the presence of conscious feeling in the body and the thoughts that are associated with them, it's nearly impossible to create memory. In order for the brain to process and store memory, it first has to be 'fed' with bits and pieces of information, most of which are sourced from auditory and visual bodily facilities.

The development of auditory and visual memory is the product of stimulation. What we hear and see enter our consciousness and are either accepted or disregarded. Accepted information is processed in the brain and stored as memory. Disregarded information is soon forgotten. This explains why certain pieces of information are not remembered : What color of shoes was he wearing? Were there two cars in the garage or just one? Did I lock the doors or not?

What happens to auditory and visual memory in the brain?

Once auditory and visual memories are fed into the brain, the brain then attempts to understand and process these memories by assessing, interpreting and categorizing the components. How the brain handles the information from here is essential to the creation of memory.

Auditory memory versus visual memory
It's sometimes tempting to ask which type of short-term memory lasts longer: auditory memory or visual memory. Arguments for either exist but it's important to understand that in the end, it is the brain that determines which type of memory is stored.

Auditory memory and visual memory are short-term. For example, if you ask someone for an address and you hear the reply, your brain processes this new information. The few seconds you spend repeating the information over and over again in order to memorize it is the time it takes for that auditory memory to last. Unless you form an association with the address, it will be difficult for you to remember what it is exactly several days, weeks or months later.

With visual memory, it is the same. For most of us, reading a poem, for example, temporarily commits it to memory. After just a few minutes or hours, certain words will be forgotten. A longer period can completely wipe away the memory of the poem.

There are also certain factors that affect auditory and visual memory. Certain physical factors such as hearing and visual impairments, for example, can affect the formation of an accurate memory. Some, such as distractions, visual obstructions, emotional and physical conditions can also alter what one hears and sees.

The brain and memory
To ensure that the brain is effective in processing information, it is important that it has the capability to hold specific pieces of data and information and view it as a whole. It must do this by arranging the information into a particular order. Once this order is established, the brain can then form associations between certain elements, piece them together and form a complete memory out of the auditory and visual memories it processed.
About the Author
Matthew Wadsworth is an international musician and expert on memory improvement. He is committed to teaching people from all walks of life how to improve their memory.
For more information please go to
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