Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! Memories of years past

Well 2014 is history, and as I enter my 68th year on this planet, I wonder what this year will bring. As I reflect back over the year, which was great except for the close call my wife had from a brain aneurysm,  I want to pass on some of my experiences to my grandson. One day when he reads this my hope is that he will get a sense of some of the events that shaped me--not my generation. 

Memory is an interesting comment, we hold different types of memories as we look back over our lives. Long-term memory is our brain's system for storing, managing, and retrieving information. 

Short-Term Memory is closely related to "working" memory, short-term memory is the very short time that you keep something in mind before either dismissing it or transferring it to long-term memory.  

As you would imagine, long-term memories are much more complex than short-term ones. We store different types of information (procedures, life experiences, language, etc.) with separate memory systems.

Explicit memory, or declarative memory, is a type of long-term memory requiring conscious thought. It's what most people have in mind when they think of a memory. Within Explicit memory we have facts and we have experience. The problem is that our experiences are not really what happened to us, but the feelings and the events help shape our understanding of who we are as people.

Implicit memory is a major form of long-term memory that does not require conscious thought. It allows you to do things by rote.

Autobiographical memory is gathered from Semantic and Episodic memories we hold and for most of us  this is what we remember when we recall our life.  So as I relate the memories I have, I understand they may not be as they happened, but they give me and hopefully will give my grandson a glimpse of what I am/was like as I grew.

Here is a schematic of different types of memory
Types of Human Memory: Diagram by Luke Mastin

So for the next few days I want to talk about events that I remember that I hold in my Episodic memory and which I believe shaped my life view and my understanding of myself. 

If you have your memory be thankful, I have many friends who due to Dementia and Alzheimer's do not have their memories. 

My wife lost five weeks of her memories due to her. brain aneurysm and it was very scary for both of us. I will recount the experience we went through so it might help others, but that will be in a few weeks but know just need to focus on her recovery. 

I admire those who can write about their experiences  while undergoing medical, physical or other trauma, I cannot. So as I gather my thoughts, and review the verbal journal I kept I wish all of you a safe and prosperous and healthy new year. 

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