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How We Make Memories: Crash Course Psychology #13

How We Make Memories: Crash Course Psychology #13

Have you ever wondered how we make memories? In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of memory and the science behind it. Memory is the process of encoding, storing, and retrieving information. Our brains take in countless amounts of information every day, and it’s our memories that allow us to navigate the world around us.

Encoding Memories

The first step in the memory process is encoding, where our brains take in information from our senses and turn it into a format that can be stored. This process can happen automatically, like when we see colors or hear sounds. Or it can happen more consciously, like when we actively try to learn new information. Several factors influence how well we encode information, including attention, motivation, and prior knowledge.

Storing Memories

Once information is encoded, it’s stored in our brain. Our brains store information in different areas, depending on the type of information. We have short-term memory, which stores information for a few seconds to a minute. We also have long-term memory, which stores information for much longer periods. There are two types of long-term memory: explicit memory (also known as declarative memory) and implicit memory (also known as procedural memory).

Explicit memory is our conscious memory. It includes our memories of events and facts. We can recall explicit memories intentionally and communicate them to others. In contrast, implicit memory is our unconscious memory. It includes our habits, skills, and conditioned responses. We might not be aware of these memories, but they influence our behavior and actions.

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Retrieving Memories

Retrieving memories is the final stage in the memory process. It’s the process of accessing and using stored information. Retrieval can be affected by several factors, including encoding and storage.

Retrieval can also be impacted by something called interference. Interference can occur when two different pieces of information compete for retrieval. This can cause one or both memories to be confused or forgotten.

Enhancing Memory

There are several ways to enhance memory. One way is through repetition. Rehearsing information multiple times can help encode it better. Another way is by organizing information into categories or groups. This can help improve recall.

Sleep also plays an important role in memory consolidation. When we sleep, our brains process and strengthen memories. Finally, exercise and a healthy lifestyle can improve memory function.


In conclusion, memory is a complex and fascinating process. Encoding, storing, and retrieving memories all play a crucial role in allowing us to function in the world around us. Remembering and forgetting play an important role in our lives. Understanding how memory works can help us improve our memory function and better understand ourselves.

So next time you try to remember something, think about the complex process your brain is going through to retrieve it. And don’t worry too much if you forget something – it’s a natural part of the memory process.