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Making a Memory: The Power of Association, Imagery and Linking in the Brain

Jan 2, 2008
Memory is a strange thing - it can be as solid as words carved in stone or it can be fluid and changeable, sometimes dangerously so. It is also one of the most essential of human powers, allowing us to create judgments, make decisions, plan and yes, even dream. Memory may seem like a simple matter but it operates within very complicated processes. It works with the inherent power of association, imagery and linking, all of which allows the brain to even remember at all.

The power of association
A normal brain processes information as separate components, feeding itself with each new addition as it comes. However, the real power of the brain does not come from its ability to accept information. Instead, it comes from its power to associate all these bits and pieces of memory to come up with the necessary thought or concept in order to allow a person to function. Imagine not being able to process information and never realize that fire can burn or that your house is the third one from the first street and not the first one from the third street. The brain has to be able to use the information to compare, analyze and contrast, after which it can come up with blocks of memories that are coherent and real.

Failure to associate pieces of information will result in the loss of important elements. This is when we encounter objects we vaguely remember in our minds. If we cannot associate between that object and another known object or emotion, it ends up being useless and as a result, deleted from our consciousness. Many of the pieces of information carried by short-term memory occur as loose bits and are therefore discarded.

Imagery and memory
Imagery is an important component of memory. After all, we remember what we see or at least what we think we see. Synaesthesia, for example, the awareness of the senses, is the source of all natural memories we have. We remember what is comfortable, dangerous, important or useless based on what we have seen, heard, touched, felt or smelled. It is the combination of these senses which allows our brains to be able to come up with the appropriate imagery which we can then associate to relevant objects.

Imagery is also influenced by our perception of defining elements, such as form, shape, number, color, uniqueness and the like. This helps us build associations, such as blue for the sky, green for leaves, spherical for oranges, black for night, cold for winter, etc.

Linking to create memory

The last component in the process of creating memory is linking. Unlike association, linking attempts to create a logical progression from one piece of information to the next. This is the part of memory building that teaches us to follow procedures and instructions and anticipate. Through linking, for example, we will learn that a key when inserted in the key hole and turned will open the door. Through association, we learn that not just any key will open the door so we will have to choose which of the ones we hold in our hand will give us access to the main door, the bedroom or the office.

Memory and the brain
Memory is simply one of the most importantfunctions of the brain. However, it is not perfect. It can be manipulated, edited or even sabotaged. Certain conditions such as illnesses, emotional distress or physical changes such as those that occur in puberty and pregnancy, for example, are capable of changing our association, imagery and linking. Perception also plays a major part. If we perceive an event as joyous, for example, that will be the emotion we will associate a certain memory with, along with the necessary imagery related to it.
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
http://www.easymemorytraining.com
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