Tag Archives: associative memory


Good morning Everyone!

I’ve been thinking lately about memory and how differently it functions for different people.  I have a good memory for numbers and odd facts I’ve run across, but if I ask you in the den whether you’d prefer cream of chicken or vegetable beef soup for lunch, I’m likely to have forgotten your answer by the time I take the ten steps to the kitchen. 

I have a sister who has an excellent memory for things that happened in our past.  Sometimes, when we’re talking and she mentions something that happened when we were children, I wonder whether we, in fact, shared the same childhood.  (Yes, Stacy, I know that we did and that your stories are true;  I just remember so much less than what you remember; you’re amazing!)

I have an excellent memory for phone numbers, of all things.   I can remember many phone numbers off the top of my head, which means I’ve never really bothered learning how to program many numbers into my cell phone.  I find it interesting though that when I am trying to remember a number I am not that familiar with, I usually get 6 out of 7 digits correct, and the 7th is pretty close to what I need, although not exact.  That 7th number that I miss will a) be within plus or minus one digit of the correct number, and b) will be somewhere in the middle of the number, not at the end. 

I can remember all kinds of odd facts from things that I have read; those facts pop up in association with other things.  Sitting here now, I can’t really come up with a random fact to share with you, but if we were having a conversation and something you said struck up some kind of association, I would have a plentiful store of facts to share related to whatever topic I have associated with our conversation at the time. 

If I am going through an exceptionally unhappy time, I will blot memories of that time largely out, even the happy memories.  I have two years of my life (grades 9 and 10 in high school in Fairfax, Virginia) that I have only the spottiest memories of.  I remember more and more about those years, though, the older I get, which is interesting to me as well. 

The hardest things to remember sometimes, unless you are just lucky enough to have the event become one of those stories that gain the status of “family-sharing memories” that are trotted out frequently because they really are very funny, are the little day-to-day events that make life a pleasure and a gift.  I am fortunate there; I don’t remember them better than anyone else does, but between early e-mails I sent when we got Kayla, a series of letters I wrote to my aunt, uncle and cousin and my grandparents for about two years, and then this blog, I have a treasure house of recorded memories I can go back and read about at my leisure. 

All humans have memories of one sort or another; it is interesting when talking to Kayla to see what she remembers and what she doesn’t from the early years of her adoption.  I find that over the years I have gradually acquired the status of institutional memory for my firm, simply due to the number of years that I worked there coupled with the positions I have held as I worked my way up.  I am one of only two people with the longevity to be able to do that.  It always amazes me when I am able to pull up facts from a case that is somewhere between 10 – 20 years old; somehow, after a little bit of thought, the memory I am searching for just pops up from the depths of my storage banks. 

How does your memory serve you?  Are you one of the very fortunate few that has a photographic memory?  Do you tend to remember physical things, such as dance or sports moves, better than thought type memories?  (My physical memory is close to non-existent, making activities such as golf a never-ending adventure!)  Are you the family historian who can remember events no one else does, or are you the number cruncher or walking encyclopedia able to pull random, or not-so-random facts out as needed?  Whichever type of memory you have, I do hope that, unlike me, you are at least able to remember what type of soup someone wants for the ten steps it takes to get from the den to the kitchen!

Have a great day everyone!