Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Eddie from Suffolk, VA. Eddie Wonders, “Why can we remember song lyrics, but not full books?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Eddie!
Have you ever taken part in a memory contest? In 2015, Rajveer Meena broke a world record by reciting 70,000 digits of Pi from memory. In 2017, Zou Lujian broke another record by memorizing a full deck of cards in 13.96 seconds. That's impressive, considering others can't recall what they had for breakfast this morning!
Have you ever WONDERed why some people have stronger memories than others? Some of us can remember events from five years ago. Others can't remember what happened yesterday! However, experts say all our brains store memories the same way.
Inside our brains are billions of cells called neurons. These cells together to store our memories. Every brain contains around 100 trillion neuron links. That's 1,000 times the number of stars in our galaxy! How much knowledge can these links store? Think of your brain as an electronic device. It can hold 2.5 petabytes of information. You could record for 300 years and still have storage space!
Shouldn't that mean we remember everything we ever do? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Our brains only store knowledge they see as worth remembering. For example, we're more likely to remember things that are repeated. Repetition is one way our brains identify important information. That's why people read their notes a few times before a test! Our brains notice the notes are repeated and know they're important. Then it stores them away in our memories.
Do you ever search for information online? Experts believe the Internet changes how we store memories. A 2011 study tested how college students memorized information. It found they were less likely to remember facts they read online. Their brains didn't think the information was worth storing because they knew it could be found online later. This could mean our brains will store less knowledge the more we use the Internet. It's like we use the Internet as extra memory space!
Do you dream of being able to remember endless information? You're in luck! People use many methods to improve their memories. Most memory champions use a method called a "memory palace." They begin by picturing a place they know well. Many people use their home, car, or local park. Then, they pretend to place the information they need to remember inside the memory palace. They might imagine storing it in the glove box or folding it into a dresser. Later, they can visit the memory palace to find the information! They just walk into the memory palace in their mind and search for what they need.
Would you like to build a memory palace of your own? What place would you imagine? Do you have other ways to remember information? We'd love to hear about them!