Essay, Research Paper: Psychology College Paper


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Memory is defined as the accuracy and ease with which a person can retain and
recall past experiences (Webster`s Dictionary, pg. 611). It is often thought of
as a capacity, such as a cup, that could be full or empty. A more common
comparison is one to a computer. Some minds, like computers, can have more
software, being able to save and recall more experiences, information, and
memories than others can. And like a computer, minds can be upgraded. This is
not done with a simple installation of a chip, but by following a number of
small procedures that will enhance and sharpen a memory. As people age, many
people believe that the loss of memory is inevitable. Once people go over a
certain age, they begin to lose their memory and will be thought of as old and
forgetful. People who forget things often complain about a bad memory, but in
most of these cases these people never took the time to learn whatever they
thought they could remember. Most scientists believe there is no such thing as a
good or bad memory, only good and bad learners. Depending on the amount of
attention a person gives something depends on how well a person will remember
that fact or event (Reich, pg. 396). Beginning at the age of 50, people of
similar ages begin to differ more and more from one another in their mental
performance. Some memories drop noticeably, but many stay the same or even rise.
Most investigators agree that no mental decline occurs before the age of 65 or
70 that affects a person`s ability to function in the real world (Schrof, pg.
89). In many societies still today, such as in China, elders are considered the
wisest and are very well respected. There are two types of memories, long and
short term. Anything remembered under 30 seconds is considered short-term
memory, and anything after that is considered long-term memory (Kasschau, pp.
57-58). Endell Tulving has broken it down even further into episodic and
semantic memories. Episodic memory is remembering specific events or names.
Semantic memory refers to general knowledge, like speaking a language or doing
math problems (Corsini, pg. 355). Many things can be done to increase and keep a
person`s memory sharp. Seeking variety provides a broad range of experiences
that provide reservoirs of knowledge to search through in old age. A willingness
to try new things and improvise gives that mind more experience. People who are
at peace and find life fulfilling have a memory that is stronger and lasts
longer than those who are often angry or depressed do. Strengthening a memory
can start during childhood. Eating right as a baby leads to strong, healthy
brains, while nutritional deficits can permanently impair mental functions.
Getting lots of stimulation and staying in school are two ways to make your
memory last longer. Enriched environments cause brain cells to grow as much as
25 percent more than those in bland environments (Schrof, pg. 91). When a person
reaches young adulthood, making many friends can keep a person sharp. People
with many friends often score higher of cognitive tests and are able to adapt
better to new situations. Finding a mentor and marrying someone who is smarter
than you help also, leading you to strive to match your mate`s abilities (Schrof,
pg. 91). As a person enters middle age, putting away money for trips can be
beneficial. People with extra money can treat themselves to mind nourishing
experiences like travel and cultural events. Achieve major life goals now to
avoid burnout. People who head into retirement fulfilled will feel at peace with
their accomplishments (Schrof, pg. 91). When a person enters the late sixties,
they should search for things that continue to challenge them and intrigue the
mind. In other words, do not get bored. Doing things that make you feel like you
are doing something constructive also helps. Those who do not feel like they
have no purpose and tend to burn out. Taking a daily half-hour walk can increase
your scores on intelligence tests. Too much exercise at too much of an intense
pace hinders the memory (Schrof, pg. 91). Neurologists today are finding that
later in life the brain stops producing a hormone involved in the memory
process, acetylcholine. So far results have shown that drugs can act as the
hormone to recharge the memory. Another method of remembering more is called
chunking. Short-term memory is limited in its duration as well as in its
capacity. Your short-term memory can store and retrieve about seven unrelated
items. After you already have your immediate memory filled, attempting to store
more will cause confusion. In order to store more information and avoid
confusion, grouping items into chunks will allow for a person to remember more.
Using the initials of a string of words can minimize three or four unrelated
items into one. Items that are often minimized are items such as phone numbers
and names of favorite radio stations (Kasschau, pp. 57-58). There are many
elderly people who are or have been considered great people with great minds.
The late Mother Teresa was considered by all to have a great mind, and she was
in her late eighties. Nelson Mandela is also over eighty and is admired by many
because of his experiences and mind. Grandma Moses has to be one of the more
popular of old great minds, painting and remembering many of her experiences
past her 100th birthday. It seems everyday more theories come out about how
memory can be improved and kept sharp. Most are simple everyday steps that the
majority of people never think about, some are more complicated than average
person will understand. Even today researchers are no where near completely
understanding memory. With all the continuing study of the memory going on, it
is safe to say that much more advice will come out in the future about how to
strengthen memory. With the continuing knowledge about memory still coming out,
no one knows how much humans will be able to expand the strength of the average
memory. With so little of the brain being used at this point in age, maybe in
the future more of the brain will be available for use. This would no doubt lead
to the expansion of memory. One final comparison that the memory can be made to
is a car. Lots of cars break down, but with the right maintenance and tune-ups
many never do.Bibliography1. Corsini, Raymond. Memory. Encyclopedia of Psychology. Vol. 2 2. Kasschau,
Richard A. Glencoe/ McGraw-Hill. Understanding Psychology. Columbus, OH:
Glencoe/ McGraw √Hill, 1995. 3. Reich, James R. The Eyewitness. Skeptical
Inquirer (Summer 1993): 394-399. Rpt. in Corrections, Vol. 5: Social Issues
Resources Series, Inc., 1993. Art. 13. 4. Schrof, Joannie M. Brain Power. U.S.
News and World Report (November 28, 1994): 88-92. Rpt. in Aging, Vol. 4: Social
Issues Resources Series, Inc., 1994. Art. 79. 5. Webster`s Dictionary including
Thesaurus. Chicago, Illinois: J.G. Ferguson Publishing Company, 1992.
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