The mind is our biggest weapon but it can also be our biggest enemy. The human brain is like a miniature computer that stores and processes everything that we experience. It seems like a straightforward task, but our memories are not something that science fully understands. If anything, just trying to study it only made scientists more aware of the quirkiness of our brains. So take a look at these weird things you may or may not have known about your memory.
1. Internet-Sized Memory Bank
Have you ever wondered how the brain is able to store so much information? That’s because it’s basically a meaty, internet-sized organ that can store up to one petabyte of information. That’s pretty much the size of the entire internet! And what’s more impressive is that our brains don’t need much energy, especially when compared to our computers and phones; it runs on power equivalent to that of a 20-watt bulb. If scientists were to recreate a computer to support the same memory bank, they would need a nuclear station to power it!
2. False First Memory
According to a 2018 study, nearly 40% of the 6,600 participants claimed to recall memories going all the way back to 9 and 12 months old. But according to science, this is false as babies cannot retain memories at this age – memories only stick after the age of two. However, people will still insist that they’re real. Scientists believe this is due to a myriad of things ranging from nostalgia to an ingrained identity in the stories people tell themselves. These memories could be imaginary or pieced together from fragments of an earlier event or family photos.
3. Hypnopedia Is Real
Hypnopedia is this really cool trick that allows us to learn new things while we sleep. But it has its limits. Instead of learning a new language and some really cool fighting skills, it’s usually something mundane like helping a person kick a bad habit. This was proven to be possible when a group of Israeli scientists managed to semi-cure some nicotine lovers by mixing cigarette smoke with bad odors. The end result? None of them smoked for two weeks straight. Just imagine what would happen if the treatment continued.
4. Master Memory Trick
It turns out that the best way to remember something is by drawing it. This was the discovery made by Canadian researchers who found that sketching images related to the information they were trying to memorize helped them recall it better. The researchers tested this out with 48 volunteers, half who were in their early twenties, the rest going all the way up to 80. After choosing between writing a list of words or drawing, it was discovered that the mini Picassos were able to recall the most words. This is due to the brain absorbing the same information from different angles such as visual, verbal and the physical act of sketching.
The entire process of creating new and storing memories boils down to two types of brain cells—neurons that get really excited and neurons that calm them down. When a memory is created, the overly excited cells fire electrical signals among each other, but if they stay giddy for too long, this could lead to conditions like autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia. So to keep things in balance, the calming neurons fire connections that counteract the excited ones. Studies also show that “forgotten” memories were never truly forgotten, they were just suppressed by the calming neurons so as not to interfere with others.
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