How Long Can a Person Remember Something (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 4 years

What was the name of the company that repaired the air conditioner last time? Where did I leave the key for my room? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? – Yes, we all have. A person tends to forget some things after a certain period of time unless it is very important. Information about our parents or their contact details will not be forgotten easily, because everyone, as children, are primarily trained to remember facts and autobiographical events. 

How Long Can a Person Remember Something?

People are able to make memories (or remember things) only after the age of two and a half to three years. If a person claims to remember something from before this age, it is either from his knowledge or media like photos and videos. 

According to Atkinson and Shiffrin, there are 3 stages of memory storage. At each stage there is a particular amount of time assigned for a person to remember something. 

S.NoType of Memory StageAmount of time for a person to remember something.
1.Sensory Memory2 seconds
2.Short-term Memory15-20 seconds
3.Long-term MemoryRemembers for a long amount of time.

At times, remembering something can also depend on the environment. As an adult, one can remember memories from when they were three or four years old, but adults who have had abusive and stressful childhood report an offset of childhood amnesia at around five to seven years of age.

Amnesia is an inability to forget the stored memory and is of two types:

  1. Anterograde Amnesia: Loss of the ability to form new memories.
  2. Retrograde Amnesia: Loss of ability to recollect the past memories but can make new memories. 

People tend to believe that amnesia at old age is inevitable, but researchers have found that some kinds of memory can also increase with the age. Sometimes old people take cognitive tests and results turn out to be the same or better than their results obtained in their twenties.

Why Does It Take That Long For a Person To Remember Something?

Sensory Memory: At this stage memory is sensory and fleeting or easily forgotten. If the memory is not strongly reinforced, there are more chances of forgetting the memory.

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Short-term Memory: At this stage, the memory is repeated verbally such that it can be remembered and reinforced at the same time. This is the reason why we take some time to remember a person’s name

Long-term Memory: At this stage, a memory is remembered for a longer period of time compared to short-term memory and sensory memory. Undoubtedly, the saying “Practice makes a man perfect” can be applied here because regular practice or repeatedly doing the same activity makes the neurons trained in such a way they can respond accordingly when a person performs that particular activity. 

A person using a guitar for the first time cannot be an expert. The very first time holding a guitar, no one will compose a song. As time goes on practicing can help in playing guitar. This is because neurons send signals on how strings in the guitar must be used. 

Offset childhood amnesia caused in children of age of  five to seven years due to abusive or stressful experiences might injure the centers of the brain. As priming occurs at a young age might implicitly cause abusive memory connections and can keep a person disturbed even after becoming an adult.  

There can be many reasons for amnesia. One reason is having had a difficult childhood as mentioned above. Trauma and drugs are also reasons for amnesia. A physical trauma like meeting an accident might make a person forget that particular event. An emotional trauma like losing a loved one might make a person forget specific events related to that particular person. 

Conclusion

Though there are many kinds of medium available for storing memory. Nothing can do a better job than a human’s memory card — brain. Maintaining good memory positively affects a person’s intellect. 

There are many ways to avoid amnesia includes:

  1. Good sleep
  2. Avoiding stress
  3. Stimulating the brain
  4. Good exercise. 
  5. Avoiding drugs, alcohol and other neurotoxins.
  6. Maintain balanced diet

Good memory turns out to be a boon in more situations than we can count. Take a few tips from the information above, and don’t forget to exercise your brain!

References

  1. http://www.holycrosshigh.co.za/Charne2021/Remember%20by%20Christina%20Rosetti.pdf
  2. https://cccoi.org/i/u/2043019/f/Documents/How_We_Remember.doc

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