Some are enjoyable. Others, we’d rather forget. And still more we do forget. But more than anything else, memory makes up who are. Without our recollections, we wouldn’t be able to form relationships, advance in our careers, or even remember which foods we love (and which we hate). Memory, some might say, is the key to life.
Given how monumental our memories are to our everyday lives, most of us know little about how and why they’re formed. But unlike everything we learned in 11th grade biology class, what goes on in the memory storage centers of our brain is anything but boring. For instance, it’s pretty insane to think that our brains can theoretically hold more information than over 4,000 iPhones. And apparently there’s a world record for the most random objects memorized—who knew! Herein, we’ve gathered some of the most interesting and crazy facts about memory that science (and the internet) has to offer. So store these facts away in your long-term memory!
1. Our brains can store a countless amount of information.
According to Northwestern University psychology professor Paul Reber, our brains have the capacity to store up to 2.5 petabytes of data. That’s the equivalent of three million hours of TV shows—or about the same storage as nearly 4,000 256GB iPhones (the largest size available).
2. A good night’s rest helps us better store memories.
Unsurprisingly, our brains function better when we’re well-rested. One study found that people who were taught specific finger movements (like you would learn on the piano) were better able to recall them after 12 hours of rest. “When you’re asleep, it seems as though you are shifting memory to more efficient storage regions within the brain,” study author Matthew Walker, Ph.D., of the BIDMC’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory told Science Daily.
3. Walking through a doorway triggers the brain to forget.
“Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away,” psychologist Gabriel Radvansky told Live Science. When he and his team studied the difference between subjects moving objects between rooms versus subjects moving objects in the same room, he found that “people were two to three times as likely to forget what they were supposed to do after walking through a doorway.”
4. There’s a peak age for facial recognition.
“Oh hey… you!” You better get used to saying this now, because your ability to pair faces with names is only going to get worse after your 30s, according to a study from Dartmouth College and Harvard University. Apparently, our ability to identity faces peaks between the ages of 30 to 34—and after that, it slowly declines, until we can only recognize an estimated 75 percent of people in our 70s.
5. And a peak age for name recognition.
The regions in our brain that control our ability to recognize faces might mature well into our 30s, but the ones that allow us to remember names and store other new information start declining as early as our 20s. Luckily, scientists say that most people don’t start noticing these deteriorations until they reach their 60s or 70s.
6. Memory hack: Close your eyes.
You might look a little strange with your eyes sealed shut, but your memory will thank you for it. One study in Legal and Criminal Psychology found that, when people closed their eyes, they were able to answer 23 percent more questions correctly about a movie they had just watched. By closing your eyes, you remove outside distractions and allow your brain to focus on the recollections at hand.
7. “Love at first sight” is a fabrication.
Think that you and your partner experienced love at first sight? That might just be your mind playing tricks on you, according to a study from Northwestern University. Apparently, when we think back to the time when we first met our significant other, we have a tendency to project our current feelings onto our past memories. “Your memory reframes and edits events to create a story to fit your current world,” lead author Donna Jo Bridge explained. Sorry, hopeless romantics.
See the full list of 35 fun facts about the human brain and memory by clicking here!
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