What does it mean to process information

Control center brain How does our memory tick?

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Our brain is always working at full speed because it sorts, filters and stores experiences, impressions and experiences in memory. How does our memory work and how do we retrieve this information?

Status: 10.12.2019

Compared to the hard drive of a computer, our brain does not store zero and one, but each time information is processed, the connection between the nerve cells in the brain changes. This so-called neural network is different for every person. The difference to the computer, however, is clear: the human brain is individual and unique.

"If we remember something, then our brain really changes physiologically. That means something changes in the structures, in the interconnections of nerve cells with one another."

Roland Rupprecht, psychologist at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Three different areas of memory are important for learning in the brain: ultra-short-term memory, working or short-term memory and long-term memory.

Filter information carefully

Our brain filters out relevant information and compares it with knowledge and experiences that have already been learned.

Every moment all senses are active and our brain has to filter out the many different pieces of information from a wide range of impressions. We smell, hear, see, taste and feel. We take in information with these different senses. What is perceived only stays in for just two seconds Ultra-short term memory, is then discarded or entered into Short term memory. This is why it is so important, if information is to be stored, that we only focus on one thing. If we want to understand and keep a text and at the same time watch a film, then neither of the two contents is completely saved. Only the content that gets the full concentration is recorded. This information must also be relevant, only then can it reach the next level: That Working or short term memory.

"This is also called working memory, because information is processed in this area of ​​memory. We try to organize information, to systematize it, to bring it into connection with what is already known and to remember it in this way."

Roland Rupprecht, psychologist, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Information is stored in short-term memory for up to 20 minutes. They are then deleted to free up space for new ones. If we want to keep what we have learned longer, it now helps to take a short break, as our concentration on one thing is not enough for that long. Especially when learning vocabulary it helps to keep the new words, to always take breaks in between and then to repeat everything again. Then the chance is greater, the knowledge in Long-term memory to anchor.

Keep information in long-term memory

Information can only be remembered by focusing on one thing.

When information in the third stage, ins Long-term memory should pass over, then the process of consolidation begins. If you really want to save something in the long term, it is particularly necessary to let what you have learned sit down first. It is a phase in which our memory is, however, also very susceptible to failure and can quickly forget information.

Memory areas and their storage space

The face recognition pattern takes place in perceptual memory.

When we store information and retrieve it again, very different areas of the memory are active. Experiences, knowledge content or experiences can be brought out again unconsciously or consciously.

  • The procedural memory helps us to automatically remember movement sequences that have been learned and to be able to bring them out again and again. For example, we only have to learn to ride a bike once and can then go back to it again and again without thinking.
  • The perceptual memory helps us to recognize people we haven't seen for a long time. Even though they have changed outwardly, with a new hairstyle or a different hair color, we will still remember them. Because our memory has the ability to retrieve and supplement patterns that have been learned.
  • The semantic memory in turn stores all information that we have acquired in the course of our lives. This includes foreign languages ​​and knowledge content.
  • The episodic memory preserves our autobiographical experiences. These can include good memories as well as bad ones. They are mostly stored as conscious information.

Retrieve memory contents

We remember formative moments from the age of three.

It is not until the age of three that the brain is sufficiently developed to store information in episodic memory. Experiences from kindergarten are usually the first memories. You can't consciously remember what happened before. This depends on the brain's developmental processes, which build up one after the other and are only completed in adulthood.

Emotions support our memories

We will never forget memories of our first love.

With a stimulus we activate the entire network of neurons, i.e. nerve cells that are connected to one another. If emotions are still linked to this, this information lingers in the memory for a particularly long time. The first great love and the first kiss will be remembered for a long time. Emotional moments are therefore stored longer in the memory and they are closely linked to remembering. If smells are added to these emotional events, then the memories will be kept for a particularly long time.

"An area of ​​memory called the limbic system is very important for memory. And the limbic system consists of the hippocampus and the amygdala. And these two instances actually filter all information that goes into our memory."

Roland Rupprecht, psychologist, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Memories can change

Our memory goes crazy sometimes when it tries to fill in gaps and add information that has not been saved. This can unconsciously give rise to false statements, the truth of which one is generally convinced of, but has not saved the necessary information. A blue car can quickly become a red car when an accident is described. Or we remember a certain situation and look through rose-colored glasses. However, the way of looking back can change in the course of life. A comparison with the present can also turn the good experiences into bad ones.

Memories shape people, which is why a person's personality is always individual - even if the memory declines, for example, due to dementia. Certain information is still saved. Even if you can no longer remember your name, memories remain that can be called up unconsciously.

  • Memory gaps and pitfalls. W for knowledge, December 11th, 2019 at 2:30 p.m., ARD-alpha
  • Brain - How it ticks and what gets it going: Xenius on June 25th, 2019 at 4.30 p.m.
  • Command central brain: radioWissen on December 6th, 2018 at 3:05 p.m.
  • Dynamic memory - Why our memories are constantly changing: IQ - Science and Research, May 2nd, 2019, 6:05 pm, Bavaria 2