A Brief Understanding of Memory- Remembering Facts & more


February, 2018

Brain Health

Improve Memory


Remember better

Do you want to remember better?

Do you struggle to remember names? Do forget what you had for lunch?


Why does this happen?

In How to Improve Memory: Part 1 A Brief Understanding of Memory you learned the basics of how memory works. I am sure you can remember better, and can name the parts of the brain important for:

1. Remembering facts

2. Emotional memory (Ok, I’ll give you a clue- it is shaped like an almond)

3. Driving a car


Easy? Impossible?


Very briefly, memory is broadly divided into two parts:

1. Explicit memory– the memory of facts and events.

2. Implicit memory– the memory of habits and skills.

(To learn more read How to Improve Memory: Part 1 A Brief Understanding of Memory)


When you say that you can’t remember a name, a birthday or what you did on a particular day, you are referring to explicit memory. When you don’t remember facts for meetings or exams, you are referring to explicit memory.


Why do you remember some days better than others?


I want you to pick a memorable day from many years ago? What do you remember about this day? What is the date? Who were you with? Was it hot or cold, day or night? Were you happy?

(And just a warning: This may get you into a little trouble for forgetting a significant birthday or anniversary.)

Now, why do you remember the details?



One of the my most memorable days is 27 April 1994.


I am almost 19, in second year at medical school. It is morning. I am standing in a long queue at a community hall in Lenasia, Johannesburg, with my parents. This is the happiest I have ever been, standing in a queue that took over four hours (and this was not as long as it could be). It was the first democratic elections in South Africa. My parents were not able to vote before that. The apartheid government in South Africa had denied them the right to vote. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was elected as the first president of a democratic South Africa. It was an incredible day. And so…

I remember the date: 27 April 1994.

I remember the day.

I remember who I was with.

I even remember the weather.

Why do I remember these facts?


Self-efficacy is your belief in your abilities. This belief affects your capability.


Understanding explicit memory


Explicit memory is divided into four stages:

1. Encoding- this is the initial processing of memory

2. Consolidation

3. Storage

4. Retrieval


Memory can fail due to any problems in those four stages.I don’t remember what I was doing on the 30th April 1994. I don’t even remember what I was doing at 11a.m. yesterday. Do you?


There was no awareness or significance attached to what I was doing. This meant that the information was not encoded, consolidated, and not stored.

When you leave your keys somewhere, you are often distracted, perhaps making a call, packing groceries or looking for something else you forgot. In this distracted state, the information is not encoded and stored, and so you don’t have a good memory of where you left your keys.

Let’s go back to 27 April 1994. I don’t remember the 30 April 1994. I do remember the inauguration a week later.


It’s significant. It’s different. I have shared this experience with other people many times and have replayed the memory often. It is associated with emotion.

Not everything we need to remember has this automatically built into it. If you have something that is important to remember you may need to create it.

What do you need to create in order to remember better?


1. Novelty

2. Repetition

3. Associations

4. Attention & awareness


In a study on people with excellent memory, it was found that they were not necessarily smarter, but that they had learned how to remember better. (Tip: Investigate the memory palace)

How are you going to remember better?


Self-efficacy is your belief in your abilities. This belief affects your capability.

For example, I don’t think I could ever run a marathon. I make no effort to try to run, even for a kilometer. I have sealed my fate. I will not be able to run a marathon with this belief system. If I believed I could run a marathon, I would start running, I would find a friend I could train with, and enlist an expert to help me. I would run, and perhaps even complete a marathon.

Ask yourself what can you do to improve your memory.

Make a point of trying to remember at least three unusual facts a day. Remember your grocery list or 3 events that happened in the day. Practice. Improve your memory. Improve your brain.

The more you remember, the more efficient your brain becomes at remembering. The more you do, the better you will understand what works for you. Don’t accept that you can’t remember. You can improve your memory.


Changing habits can improve memory


Don’t forget that adequate sleep, exercising, spending time with people you love & stimulating your brain, can improve your memory. As important, a poor diet and smoking, can harm your memory.



Think about what you can do to improve your memory. Do you need to sleep better? Do you need to practice repetition?


Let me know what suggestions you have to improve memory.


Happy learning


Kirti Ranchod


Learn more on how Brain stimulation, Sleep, Physical Exercise, Diet, Social Interaction keep your brain healthy, and protect your memory.

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