Why Can I Remember Some Things and Not Others?

Why can I remember some things and not others?

Does this sound familiar? You can remember how to ride a bike, but you can’t remember a list of words you were just given. You can remember the capital cities of all the countries in Europe, but you can’t remember what you ate for dinner last night. The answer lies in how your memory works and in the various types of memory you have. Here is a scientific explanation from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Why can I remember some things and not others? Consider the different types of memory.

Why Can I Remember Some Things and Not Others?

Human memory is fundamentally associative. You can remember a new piece of information better if you can associate it with previously acquired knowledge that is already firmly anchored in your memory. And the more meaningful the association is to you personally, the more effectively it will help you to remember. So taking the time to choose a meaningful association can pay off in the long run.

Also, contrary to the image that many people have of memory as a vast collection of archived data, most of our memories are actually reconstructions. They are not stored in our brains like books on library shelves. Whenever we want to remember something, we have to reconstruct it from elements scattered throughout various areas of our brains.

For the entire lengthy scientific explanations and helpful graphics, have a look at the articles here and here.

So it appears from these articles that your ability to remember some things and not others also has a lot to do with the various types of memory that you have — explicit, implicit, procedural, episodic, and semantic. So next time someone asks you what you had for dinner last night at your favorite restaurant and you can’t remember, blame it on your episodic memory.

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