How Good Is Your Memory?

By: Bri O.
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Do you have what it takes to scan over a screenshot and then answer detail-specific questions about it? Most people don't. In fact, because of the limits of short-term and overall memory reliability, it's almost impossible. It takes a near photographic memory and some serious strategizing skills. Put your brain power to the test with this memory challenge!

A little memory fun fact: There are about 1 billion neurons that make up the human brain. All those neurons combine to make over 1 trillion neuronal connections. This allows the brain to store about 1 million gigabytes worth of memories, an amount no human can use up in a lifetime or even two.

TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) damage can go unnoticed for years as it builds up until symptoms become obvious. The damage can cause accelerated neurodegeneration and memory loss as well as increase a person's chance of developing Alzheimer's. It's unknown why the brain's axons continue to degenerate up to decades after the original injury. Axon degeneration can lead to the development of Alzheimer's-like sticky protein buildup and dementia.

In a study of 178 people, researchers found that closing one's eyes can help improve memory recall by 23 percent. Removing visual stimuli frees up more brain power that can then be spent on memory processes, which allows for improved recall.

The hippocampus is located in the brain's temporal lobe, and it's in charge of specific memory processes. It helps in the formation and storage of memories, and it also allows memories to be sorted.

Nischal Narayanam set the world record for being able to remember the most number of digits in the least amount of time. He was able to recall an unbelievable 132 digits after looking at and memorizing them for just one minute.

If you ever start feeling emotional while recalling certain memories, it's because of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol assists in the recollection of emotions you've felt in the past. The body also releases cortisol in response to stress.

Think dreams are pointless? Think again. Recent research shows that dreaming helps improve long-term memory as well as facilitates connections between new memories and old ones.

The attention span of an average adult is just 20 minutes, while children's attention spans usually are equivalent in minutes to their age (9 years = 9 minutes). If an adult is actually interested in the topic, the attention span can increase.

The feeling of familiarity you get before actually recalling the specific memory associated with it is triggered by the medial temporal cortex. The process of remembering takes place in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.

Damage to the frontal and temporal regions of the brain can lead to chronic feelings of deja vu, which is when someone feels as though a new experience is exactly like one they remember to have already experienced, but didn't. Almost like predicting the future as it's happening, but it's just your brain remembering incorrectly and going all haywire.

"SuperAgers" are adults over the age of 80 who have memories as good as or better than healthy adults in their 50s and 60s. It's believed that one of the most important factors contributing to the memory of SuperAgers is meaningful relationships. Having people to live and remember for is a big part of preserving cognitive functioning.

Working memory is a form of short-term memory. Short-term memory describes one's ability to store and readily access small amounts of information for a brief period of time. When it comes to working memory, it has to do with tasks in which you are actively engaged.

While memory decline is associated with older adulthood, some types of memories​ actually continue to improve, like semantic and procedural memory. Procedural memory has to do with remembering how to do things. Semantic memory has to do with recalling general facts you've learned that aren't tied to a specific experience.

Typical short-term causes of temporary memory deficits include: infections, anxiety, substance abuse, medication side effects, dehydration, depression, psychological stress, and thyroid imbalances.

If you're looking for a quick way to improve your memory, try using mnemonic devices for learning and remembering names and other new information. Another useful and similar way is to identify associations between concepts.

Episodic memory is the process that allows humans to remember past experiences. It allows us to mentally travel back in time to relive past experiences.

Over time, humans have the natural tendency to forget facts, experiences, and events. This is called transience, which is actually viewed as a good thing, since it's important for the brain to be able to rid itself of unimportant facts to free up processes for new ones.

When the answer is right at the tip of your tongue but you just can't seem to reach it, that's the phenomenon called blocking. The reason for failed memory recall is usually because another similar memory distracts you from being able to think of the original. Only about half of the time are people able to work out the blocked memory.

Another way to improve memory retention is through exercise. Research shows that if you exercise four hours after learning something new, you retain memory better than someone who exercises immediately after learning or who doesn't exercise at all.

Certain classes of OTC (over-the-counter) medicines have been linked to declines in executive functioning and memory as well as increased risk for the development of Alzheimer's Disease. The active ingredients in certain allergy, antacid, motion sickness, and sleep pills associated with this risk are diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, meclizine, ranitidine, dimenhydrinate, and loperamide.

Additional techniques to aid in jogging your memory include reciting aloud whatever needs memorizing, leaving reminders around, and breaking tasks down for easier digestion and memorization. Another useful method for boosting memory is through socializing. Having a healthy social life helps stimulate your brain, which, in turn, increases memory capacities.

There are many, ways to protect your brain and memory as you age. Eating a healthy diet to control your cholesterol levels is one way. Make sure to avoid smoking and to get enough exercise, even if it's just a brisk walk.

While it's largely held belief that people with amnesia forget who they are, this is simply not the case. The most common manifestation of amnesia results in difficulty forming new short-term and long-term memories and rarely affects past memories.

Do you struggle with remembering names? Well, Alexander the Great sure didn't. He's remembered for knowing the names of all 30,000 of his soldiers.

Typically, the human memory works best when memories are formed around visual stimuli. The brain has an easier time processing visual information. When studying, it's useful to pair text with visuals to improve the amount of information absorbed.

While going over something again and again may seem like the best method for memorization, it's not. The brain remembers best when it has to work for and retrieve memories rather than have easy quick access.

While it may seem like each memory of an experience is stored all together in a specific area of the brain, what actually happens is that aspects of the memory are sifted through and sorted to different parts of the brain. Visual components of the memory go to one place, emotional components to another, smell aspects to another, and so on. Then it's up to the hippocampus to orchestrate all those bits and pieces together to form once cohesive memory upon recall.

Your memories are categorized and prioritized according to emotional intensity. When a memory has intense emotions attached to it, it's prioritized as a more important memory and is more easily and clearly recalled.

For around 20 to 30 seconds at a time, your short-term memory can hold about seven different pieces of information. In the movie "Finding Nemo," the fish, Dory, has short-term memory deficits that lead her to forget most things and behave erratically.

The brain is the ONLY organ that doesn't contain any nerves, which means it lacks the ability to feel pain. Your brain literally cannot hurt, but there are plenty areas of the head that can. Despite this, the brain is the command center for the central nervous system.

It's a commonly held misconception that people can only use about 10 percent of their brains at once. Every part of the brain is used for specific functions.

The human memory is susceptible to many biases, including, illusion-of-truth effect, source confusion, next-in-line effect, and suggestibility.

Consuming too much alcohol doesn't technically cause memory loss or make you forget anything. Rather, too much alcohol literally blocks the formation of new memories, so there's technically nothing there to remember or forget.

Epigenetics has shown that there is such a thing as "generational memory" that influences gene expression in future generations. Meaning, the traumas of our ancestors become our own traumas quite literally through our DNA.

The average human brain weights about 3.3 pounds, which is about 2 percent of said human's total body weight. Both gray matter (neurons) and white matter (neuron fibers) make up the brain.

The cerebral cortex is made up of four lobes: the frontal lobe, the temporal love, the parietal love, and the occipital lobe. This is where complex thought processes take place.

There are two hemispheres of​ the human brain: the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. They are connected by the corpus callosum. In individuals with severe, relentless seizure disorders that do not respond to other treatments, the corpus callosum may be severed to prevent electrical signals from bouncing between the hemispheres.

It's a commonly held belief that memory functions similarly to computers or videos, but in reality, it's much more complicated than that. Memory is unstable, continually being altered by how we interact with it. It's unreliable and limited in scope, especially when it comes to details.

False memories are a real thing, and people are especially susceptible to them when under the influence of hypnosis. Researchers have successfully implanted false memories in about 20 percent to 50 percent of subjects in controlled studies.

When awake but not actively doing anything, the brain uses up about 20 percent of the body's oxygen resources, even though it makes up just 2 percent of the body's total weight.

Many people turn to dietary supplements in hopes of protecting their brain health and memory, but researchers are saying more and more that this is not the most effective route. Instead, try incorporating key nutrients in your diet. Eating fish rather than taking vitamin E and Omega-3 supplements is believed to be a more effective approach with fewer risks.

Simply repeating the same processes over and over again, like cross​word puzzles and soduku, isn't enough to boost your brain power. While many believe engaging in those sorts of mind/memory games help, better methods include: learning something new, mediating, or socializing. This is what sparks new neural connections and keeps the brain sharp.

Multitasking is not great for memory. It causes us to be distracted rather than focused, which makes it much easier to forget bits of information or simply not notice the details to begin with. Being mindful, rather than a multitasking productivity machine,​ is a great way to boost your brain power and memory.

Sleep is one of the most important players when it comes to memory formation. When sleeping, your brain is able to reflect on the activities of the day, store important info, forget less relevant info, and make connections between the new information and older experiences.

At four weeks of development, the human fetus brain forms 250,000 new neurons every minute. By 3 years old, toddlers have around 80 percent of their adult brain volume.

The adult brain uses about 25 percent of the body's metabolic energy. Whereas baby brains use about 60 percent of their tiny bodies' metabolic energy.

Each year, more than 50 million Americans are affected by neurological disorders, costing a whopping $400 billion in medical bills. Outside of substance use disorders, at least 44 million Americans are affected by mental disorders each year.

At least 250,000 Americans are affected by spinal cord injuries each year, and 4 million deal with Alzheimer's disease. Parkinson's affects at least 1.5 million Americans each year, and M.S. afflicts 350,000.

Along with sleep, vitamin D is essential to brain health and memory. Vitamin D deficiencies have been shown to accelerate cognitive decline.

If you need a temporary boost, drink some green tea. It's been shown to improve attention span and assist the brain work its way through difficult tasks.

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