Where Does Memory Exist in the Brain?

 
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It goes without saying that memory is massively instrumental in the acquisition of language. There is simply quite a lot to remember, and in Chinese you also have this whole annoying “writing system” to try to keep in the old meat computer hard drive. 真烦!

But where does memory actually exist? This field of study is of course always open to further discovery since the human brain is such an incredible tapestry of functions and information, but think of it like this, your brain has one location (the “Occipital Lope”) that is responsible for vision. It doesn’t exist in the Medula or Frontal lobe, it only exists in the Occipital Lobe. Memory, however does not exist in only one part of the brain.

It actually is perfectly natural to consider that memory exists throughout the brain. We have visual memory, touch memory, taste, smell, audio memory etc. These functions are all run by different parts of the brain, and your ability to bring a memory into your conscious mind is based on the combination of all those factors. 

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Imagine a cat. What comes to mind? Is it a specific cat? Can you imagine a cat with long orange hair and a squished face? How about a hairless cat? Fat? Skinny? Can you imagine a lion and understand that this is also a type of cat? 

Why is this so easy to do? Because your memory of cats has been hit from loads of different angles. You’ve seen cats, you’ve touched cats, you’ve likely smelled unpleasant smells related to cats, you’ve watched nature shows, you’ve maybe even been scratched by a few. You’ve heard their meow’s and hisses. These sensual experiences come from all over your brain, and thus you have a million things to pull from when trying to go into your memory and find that special feline. 

Considering all this, we have to approach Chinese from more than one angle. We need to watch movies, read comic books, study intently, listen passively, talk to friends, go on dates, eat Chinese food, or experience any other potential sensual memory we can. By constantly shifting and evolving your perspective on Chinese, you are increasing your likelihood of remembering it immeasurably. Simply staring at a textbook is a recipe for handicapping your memory, so don’t throw it out, but turn it into a small cog in the machine of Sinocizing your environment.