Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I knew that the mind was a fragile thing, and I've always been curious about how memory works and why it works. Norman explains in detail the differences and functions comparing short term memory (STM) and long term memory (LTM).

Short term memory is what helps us function on a day to day basis. It helps us remember people names, and where we are, and how do nearly everything that we don't directly think about. It is a problem when elderly people begin to loose their STM because they can often become very confused or forget where they are or where they are going.

Long term memory is memory that is stored for a longer period of time, like our interpretations of our experiences. Norman continues to explain that LTM is strictly based on how the information was perceived to begin with, and this greatly effects ones ability to recall memories and information.

Another key function of memory is reminders. The act of reminding (or as psychologists call it, rehearsal) is a key feature to both long and short term memory. Norman explains that big events usually don't need cues to remember, because you will naturally remind yourself of an up coming event just because of it's importance. Although other smaller details, while maybe important, still need reminders so one doesn't forget. Norman goes one about reminders and needing both signals and messages. He explains one bad example of tying a knot in a handkerchief. This is a signal, but if the message is forgotten the signal is useless. My father would always stick a bit of tape on his watch if he needed to remember to do something. He would never write anything on the tape, just having something unnatural in front of him was enough for him to remember what important task he was supposed to do. There have been too many cases when I've given myself clues on what I need to do, but not quite enough information to complete a task, so this method does not work for me.

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