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Do you ever get to the grocery store only to realize you can’t remember if its chicken or beef you were supposed to pick up on your way home from work? Even worse you get home and realize you didn’t even stop by the grocery store. Forgetfulness is fairly common but the degree of severity varies significantly. Forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning is one thing but forgetting important information during a presentation to your boss is another.

When we receive newly acquired information its storage is accomplished in two stages: short-term memory and long-term memory. While short-term memory lasts for seconds to hours and has only a limited capacity, long-term memory can last for days or even a lifetime and has a much larger capacity. Newly gathered information has one of two fates. It is either forgotten or is transferred into the more permanent storage of long-term memory through practice and rehearsal. So forgetfulness usually occurs because the information gathered is not properly stored i.e. cramming for an exam, you may remember some of the facts you studied for the test, but it will soon be forgotten.

There are a few areas in the brain, which are responsible for memory. The hippocampus plays a major role in short-term memory and also responsible for its conversion into long term-memory. It is believed that the hippocampus only stores long-term memory temporarily and then transfers them to other cortical sites for more lasting storage. It is especially important in storing and maintaining a record of our daily events and allows us to function properly. The hippocampus also allows us to remember facts such as brushing our teeth and hair before we leave in the morning. Another area of the brain, the cerebellum, is responsible for the “how to” memories. It allows us to store memory of how to brush our teeth and hair instead of just remembering to do it like the hippocampus stores. Finally the last major area of the brain responsible for memory is the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is mainly responsible for integrating and combining different memory stores for planning, organizing and problem solving.

The trick with retaining information is to convert it from short to long-term memory. This conversion can take place through active practice or rehearsal. For example as a child most of us learn to swim and ride a bike. These two skills are not likely to be forgotten since they are practiced on a regular basis. This information has been converted from short to long-term memory. To avoid forgetting, write information down, re-read it, practice and rehearse the skills. For example if you rehearse that presentation for your boss a few times in advance you will be more likely to remember all the important details and to deliver it without a hitch.

Another likely reason for forgetting is stress. If you are stressed you are most likely thinking about other things and are more liable to forget the little tasks you were supposed to do during the day, like picking up the groceries on your way home from work. To avoid this, organize your days with a planner. Having the tasks which must be done that day written down so you can see it will not only allow you to remember them but could also alleviate some stress by giving you a sense of accomplishment as you finish each task and cross it off your list. Other techniques such as deep breathing, 30 minutes of alone time

About The Author:

Kate Richards is a successful author and contributor regarding articles on nutrition and fitness.

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This page was updated on June 2009 and is Copyright © 2003 by Global Com Consulting Inc.