We also need to be able to recall this information

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Unformatted text preview: decides if and where to store it more permanently. It allows us to carry out hundreds of tasks each day by holding the data we are dealing with at the moment, but then letting it go so that our brain can turn its attention to other things. Because its function is temporary storage, short- term memory is supported by neuronal networks that are transient. In contrast, long- term memory is maintained by permanent cellular change because its function is to retain associations for greater lengths of time – days, decades, even an entire lifetime. You want to remember important new learnings long term, so how do short- term memories become long- term memories? Research suggests that this transition occurs during a special window in time during which the associated neurons synthesize the necessary proteins for “long- term potentiation” (LTP). As described earlier, whenever we encounter something new, an initial stimulation triggers communication across the synapse between two or more neurons. Subsequent stimulation causes the neurons to produce the proteins required to bind the synapse, thus cementing the memory in place and effectively changing the actual cellular structure of the brain. The Importance of Sense and Meaning to Long- term Memory How short- term memory determines whether or not information should be stored for the long term is complex. Examples of information that have a high likelihood of being permanently stored are information we need for survival or information that has a strong emotional component. As a student in a college classroom where these two elements are generally minimal or absent, other factors come into play. One important factor is whether or not the information “makes sense” to you – does it fit with what you already know about the way the world works? Is it reasonable and coherent? When you find that you just don’t understand something, it means that you cannot make sense of what you are learning. If you can’t make sense of it, you probably won’t remember it. The other important factor is whether or not the information “has meaning.” Is the information relevant? Is there some reason you have for remembering it? We remember some information just because it made sense even though it isn’t particularly meaningful to us. For example, the kind of data you may recall when you are doing a crossword puzzle or playing a game such as Trivial Pursuit is of...
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This document was uploaded on 02/16/2014.

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