Posts Tagged ‘long-term memory’

Short-term Versus Long-term Memory

November 22, 2011

Experts believe that there are three ways we store memories once they are created—the sensory stage; short-term memory; and long-term memory. These different stages of human memory function as a sort of filter to protect us from the flood of information we are bombarded with every day.

Sensory Stage—When we perceive something, the information is registered in a brief sensory stage lasting only a fraction of a second. This sensory memory allows a perception such as a visual pattern, a sound, or a touch to linger for a brief moment after the stimulation is over.

Short-term Storage–After that first flicker, the sensation is stored in short-term memory. Short-term memory has a fairly limited capacity—it can hold about seven items for no more than 20 or 30 seconds at a time. You may be able to increase this capacity somewhat by using various memory strategies. For example, a ten-digit number such as 8005840392 may be too much for your short-term memory to hold. But divided into chunks, as in a telephone number, 800-584-0392 may actually stay in your short-term memory long enough for you to dial the telephone. Likewise, by repeating the number to yourself, you can keep resetting the short-term memory clock.

Long-term Memory–Important information is gradually transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory. The more the information is repeated or used, the more likely it is to eventually end up in long-term memory, or to be “retained.” (That’s why studying helps people to perform better on tests.) Unlike sensory and short-term memory, which are limited and decay rapidly, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds customized brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: And be sure to visit our website at

What is Cognitive Training?

May 11, 2011

If an individual is having trouble paying attention or learning, tutoring or drill and practice in academic areas are often not effective. In fact, approximately 80% of all learning struggles aren’t due to poorly taught information, but are in fact the result of one or more cognitive skills weaknesses. (See our May 4, 2011 blog entry for a discussion of “cognitive skills.”)

Cognitive training, also referred to as “brain exercise,” focuses on helping to improve the “core” abilities and self-control necessary before an individual can function successfully academically. Typically, cognitive training consists of a variety of exercises designed to help improve functioning in areas such as sustaining attention, thinking before acting, visual and auditory processing, listening and reading. The exercises “drill for skill” directly in the areas where basic specific cognitive difficulties occur.

Research has shown that brain exercise can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and can also improve the cognitive functioning of people with attention deficit disorder, head injuries, autism, schizophrenia and other cognitive problems. Cognitive training is used to develop the thinking skills that help children in school and adults in the workplace improve their memory, attention, listening skills, self-control, processing speed, and more.

Optiminds is a Cognitive, Professional Brain Training Skills Center owned and operated by Jane Stewart, Ph.D. Visit us at:, give us a call at (248) 496-0150 or email us at:

What are Cognitive Skills?

May 4, 2011

Cognitive skills are the underlying brain skills that make it possible for us to think, remember and learn. They allow us to process the huge influx of information we receive each and every day at work, at school and in life. If your cognitive skills aren’t up to speed, no matter what kind of information you try to grasp—or how many times you try to grasp it—the process can feel sluggish and slow.

Cognitive skills include a wide variety of abilities that are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task.

Some examples of cognitive skills include:

Processing Speed—the speed at which your brain processes information. Faster processing speed means more efficient thinking and learning.

Auditory Processing—the ability to analyze, blend and segment sounds. Auditory processing is crucial for speaking, reading and spelling. When you read, for example, you need to be able to identify the individual and blended sounds that make each word unique and recognizable.

Visual Processing—the ability to perceive, analyze and think in visual images. Visual processing is imperative for reading, remembering, walking, driving, playing sports and thousands of other tasks people perform every day.

Long-Term Memory—the “library” of facts and knowledge a person has accumulated in the past.

Short-Term Memory—Also called working memory, this skill handles the dynamic job of keeping at the forefront of your mind the information you need to complete immediate and short-term tasks.

Logic and Reasoning—the ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems using unfamiliar information or new procedures. Logic and reasoning enable you to create correlations, solve problems, plan ahead and draw conclusions.

Attention Skills—There are three types of attention skills. Sustained Attention is the ability to stay focused and on-task for a period of time. Selective Attention is the ability to quickly sort through incoming information and stay focused on one thing in spite of distractions. Divided Attention is the ability to multi-task.

Optiminds is a Cognitive, Professional Brain Training Skills Center owned and operated by Jane Stewart, Ph.D. Visit us at:, give us a call at (248) 496-0150 or email us at:

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