Memory Vs Recall
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Memory Vs Recall

It never ceases to amaze me – the varying shapes a memory takes and the individual views of what constitutes “good memory”!

“You have a much better memory than me!” – declares the very man that can calculate the most complex of equations, in order to complete his next astro-physics assignment.  But he is referring to my recall of when Auntie Jeanne and Uncle Peter got married, the venue and the detail of their wedding day.  Interesting, his view of the memory places the ability of almost “benign recall” above that of his very own retention of facts, figures and formulae.

It seems that one’s own view of another’s memory is often judged by what we ourselves cannot remember; automatically assessing that our own memory is sub-standard by comparison.  Often those that claim the worst memories have something so naturally inherent that they “just do” – to them it seems so second nature something they do without thinking. Therefore it escapes them that this is actually a form of highly efficient brain mechanism… the Ferrari of the Memory world!   A friend of mine in fashion could tell you very little about world history, nothing about geography and finds it difficult to remember what she did last week.  She could however talk you through the history of fashion, what part of the world which designer came from and what years were their most prevalent.  She could talk through where “the look of the time” was born, and what she, friends and celebrities wore along with records she danced to in 1973, 1983, 1993, 2003.

Recently I claimed “not really being that analytical” and was swiftly scoffed at by one of my closest friends as being the one of the most analytical people they knew “the issue is” she said “that you do it so naturally as part and parcel of your thought process, you are unaware of the depth and the speed at which you do it”.  Memory works like this and not only links to what we like doing but moreover what we as individuals are able to process with ease.

Jessica Ennis did not just wake up one day and say “I know, I think I’ll take up athletics to Olympic standard!”  Initially she found she was good at it – her brain to muscle reaction and memory of how she obtained her best performances in order to repeat them consistently, was so aligned with the other attributes of attitude, aptitude, ability and form enabling her to accurately produce “the best”!  This more physical retention is also mirrored by the academic, artistic, mathematical and general knowledge arenas; where ones natural bents facilitate the memory, recall and enjoyment of learning process.  Memory is triggered by association and it is proved we can train the brain and improve it.  Recall is an element of memory; the two parts in one person can operate at different speeds – as alluded to in the first paragraph.  A great but simple little book called “30 days has September” is one I have recently bought for my friend’s eldest child – he has kindly agreed to do a short book review to support it. Further more academic substantiation is provided in any of Tony Buzan’s series of books.

It is our very ability in the world of memory that opens up opportunity or can shut it out.  The memory of failing once can create either a) the desire to grab the positive with the intent to overcome; so to achieve against all odds or sadly and more commonly b) to clutch onto the negative and create a hurdle of fear which is not helped by the pressure of statements such as:  “You’re only as good as  your last job, book or film”.  It is worth bearing this in mind when attempting to encourage our children; at any age a simple bad memory can either create the will do can do better and overcome the fear BUT is more likely to make them feel inadequate and breed an “I can’t do that” defeatist response. The very learning experience itself can create a positive or negative memory so the more fun we create for our youngsters – the happier the memory of the process and the greater the want to learn!

In essence we have what we have genetically but we can make the best of it – our memories are permanently there and ready for action, it is how we exercise them that can provide the varying results. Some maybe better practiced than others, either by circumstance or choice but what we can substantiate is that ability and memory function are specific to the individual. Some may undoubtedly have greater capacity than others and others may have greater ability in specific areas; the more interest we have in something – often the better the memory to match it… and if not used or exercised it has the tendency to fall into disarray…so get your brain working out today!

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