The key is keeping your brain alive, storing the knowledge properly for retention with the ability to access and processes the data when needed.
The Memory is not “one” thing, but many living, breathing, eating, coordinating, and functioning components that utilize multiple areas of your brain. Experts have given the memory many names such as explicit, associative, working, long-term, short-term, intentional, incidental, semantic, episodic and procedural. We could probably ascertain that we have ten different memories.
A key principle... If you don’t use it, you lose it!
Did you know?
- Short-term memory is usually not retained for more than 30 seconds, and capacity is limited to approximately 7 digits! Good thing frequencies, flight levels and transponder codes all fit within those limits. While it may stay longer, if data doesn’t move to long-term memory it will be gone the next morning.
- Long-term memory is actually comprised of three different types of memory and each retains different information! Semantic memory: Individual facts. Episodic memory: Experiences and events. Procedural memory: behaviors, habits and rote activities.
- The “reasoning” process can only operate on information stored in “short-term” memory! The decision process occurs in the frontal lobe and activates information from long-term memory, and then swaps this information in and out of short-term as needed.
- You have look-up subsystems for your memory! The more information you pay attention to, memory will be improved because there will be more data available in the search. If you have a choice between incidental and intentional memory…make it intentional. The longer information is attended to, the more likely the memory subsystems will store it into the memory.
A Delta Pilot/Attorney/ Iron Man/ and all around great guy said, “Whatever we learn to do, we learn by doing it. By exercise, we become fit; by thinking, we become wise. Pay attention to what you do.” Glenn Cook, Pilot/Attorney http://www.GlennCook.net
- Implicit memory we use daily, and explicit memory, while we hope to never use, is as equally important! Implicit memory is the memory that after awhile we don’t need to think about it, such as flying the plane. But when you lose your engine at altitude and need to access procedures to secure the engine and manage the FCU and MCDU on your A330, you definitely hope there is something stored in the explicit memory.
- With lack of standardization, associative memory is more important than ever! Without solid procedures in place, you need to attach an action of one step to the next, using your Associative Memory. A ‘wave off’ from the ground crew and the first officer moves the flaps, is a perfect example. This works great, as long as the first step that we link to doesn’t get missed.
- Memory formation is created by subsystems that rely on anatomical structures located deep in the brain, and that incoming perceptual information is processed by the hippocampus and passes through the cortex under the front of the temporal lobe, which projects to the entorhinal cortex and then to the hippocampus! Did you care?
My eldest sister was involved in a car accident in 1982 and her brain was crushed. The doctors wired it together and said that if she ever came out of her coma, she would be blind, and non-functional. She did come out of her coma and for the next 20 years a small portion of her brain grew and learned new tasks.
For those of you who remember the attack on FedEx Flight 705 … an amazing story of incredible piloting, and survival. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FedEx_Flight_705 I had the opportunity to meet James Tucker, and while he never made it back to the plane, he did re-teach his brain how to perform fundamental tasks.
The brain is an amazing thing… and the next two weeks will be dedicated how to get the most out of it. There is a reason that I hadn’t flown for 18 months, had been a second officer for 12 years and am still able to navigate the most challenging of training programs and attain my type rating. It’s not the size of your memory... it’s all about how you use!
Enjoy the Journey!