Have you ever wondered what a memory is exactly and how it gets formed? You have hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of memories in your brain. Songs you remember how to sing. Scenes from movies. Memories of last year’s holiday. Facts such as the names of all the planets, and on and on. Do you know what a memory is and how it gets created?
Neurons firing — There are 10 billion neurons in your brain that store information. Electrical impulses flow through a neuron and are moved by neuron-transmitting chemicals across the synaptic gap between neurons. Neurons in your brain fire every time you repeat a word, phrase, song, or phone number you are trying to memorize. Memories are stored as patterns of connections between neurons.
How a memory gets stronger — When two neurons are activated, the connections between them are strengthened. If you repeat the information enough times, the neurons form a “firing trace”. Once the trace is formed, then just starting the sequence triggers the rest of the items, and allows you to retrieve the memory. This is why you need to hear information over and over in order for it to “stick”.
Physical changes in your brain — Experience causes physical changes in your brain. In a few seconds new circuits are formed that can change forever the way you think about something or remember information.
Practice does make perfect — So whether you are trying to remember facts for your next text in school, or learn how to say “I would like a glass of wine” in a new language, or how to play the piano, the more you repeat the activity or thought, the stronger a trace you are making in your brain, and the more likely you will be to remember the information.