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Memory Limits

Memory Limits
May Create Forgetfulness

Posted on July 21, 2013

Just how big is our memory? I am only addressing a healthy normal brain status. There has got to be a limit to how much we can cram into our cranium. I ask this because it seems as the older I get, the foggier my memory gets, short term especially. There is the moment an older person walks into a room and has to think about why. Being naturally curious, I brought the subject up about memory size.

Because of the passage of years, we accumulate a lot of visual and non visual information. Normally we can recall these memories with just a little coaxing or concentration. For instance I can still see my mother through the eyes of my younger years. I can conjure up images from the past at will with no problem, so that means that the information was stored. So again I ask, “How much storage is in a normal brain?”

Could our learning curve level out as we get older because we have used up our available memory? If we insist upon adding information into our brain, does our brain have to ‘dump’ older memories to make room for the new information? If new information crowds out the old information, do we get any willful say-so about what gets jettisoned and what stays? I would just think that we do choose the memories that stay and what memories go by how frequently we use them. The so called short-term memories would have the fewest ‘hits’ simply because they haven’t been called upon as much as some of our older memories.

I don’t want to confuse anybody about this piece because I certainly do not have answers, just questions. But if the brain selectively drops the least called upon memories to dump, then it follows that the most recent memories would have to go first. At my age, learning is a much more daunting task than just a few years ago. I have to read and re-read stuff to make sense of it. By repeating to myself what I am trying to learn, say HTML5, I eventually get the idea of what is expected. Does that mean that I have crowded out memories to make room for the new information?

That is the question. Presumably, I will never know if certain memories are gone – I won’t remember!

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A Physics Major at the University of Texas
Retired from the offshore drilling industry where he worked as an Electrical Supervisor, Licensed Chief Engineer, and Electrical Designer.

Robert Writes for 2 Online Magazines and three private web sites.
Interests include computers, Cosmology, Evolution, and Environmental Research.

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