Cognition and memory are fundamental processes in the mental activities. Cognition involves the process through which information is processed in the brain leading to understanding of language as well as making decisions. On the other hand, memory is an activity in which information received from the environment is processed. This involves encoding, storing as well as retrieving. A stimulus is usually received from the external environment. Through the process of perception, it is taken to the memory where it is processed to initiate understanding and organization. Thus, human senses receive stimuli from the external world which may be inform of physical as well as chemical stimulus(Castro, 2010). Memory plays a vital role in storing information. It entails three main types of memory: sensory memory, short term memory, as well as long term memory. Information is stored in the long term memory where it can be retrieved later.
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Firstly, sensory memory stores information for a very short period of time. Information stored in this memory is lost almost immediately after it has occurred. Secondly, short term memory usually stores information that can be recalled for some seconds or a minute after the event has happened (Bauer, 2009). The capacity to store information in the short term memory is very limited. Therefore, information does not last long and is lost almost immediately if it is not taken to the long term memory. The long term memory is able to store large quantities of information that is not limited in duration (Mandler, 2011). It has a large capacity that can store information for long period of time. Thus, information is stored indefinitely.
Human memory includes the following: it has means of storing data and means of retrieving stored data. Moreover, this information may be stored temporarily or permanently. Indeed, human memory has enough capacity to store sensory inputs experienced in a given period of time. Information can, therefore, be stored for a lifetime. It is worthy to note that old information stored in the memory is not deleted as a result of experiencing new information. In addition, sensory inputs of a single object are stored together as a pattern. These may involve sound, sight as well as feel. Once the information about that particular object is retrieved, the entire information is simultaneously retrieved once again enabling one to remember the actual object. Recalling information is prompted by the sensory inputs (Milner, 2008). The folders containing information in the memory are able to recollect all information related to a particular phenomenon. At this point, the cognitive process is employed where it is used in creating new patterns from the sensory inputs that are used in solving problems. The new patterns may be stored in the brain or may be prompted to engage in a new search. The association of the prompted signals is made through the process of matching the information retrieved from the brain. This is a rapid process that allows the size of the memory to increase while not affecting the retrieval time (Castro, 2010). Thus, separate parallel searches can take place in the memory simultaneously. Remembering something is an active process. It involves creation of a memory that is based on the information that has already been stored in the brain and contains different addresses.
Retrieval involves the process in which information is found in the long term memory and brought to the working memory. In some cases, it is hard to find information in the memory when we want it. In such cases, the problem is not in the storage of information in the long term memory, but it is in the fact that we can’t find the information in the memory (Milner, 2008). Notably, long term memory is normally organized in terms of meanings. Thus, it is easy to retrieve information if we focus on the meaning of the object to be searched as well as understanding through the process of learning. It is, therefore, evident that information from the external world comes to the brain through sensory systems. These systems relay sensory information to the neocortex (DeWilde et al., 2010). In this case, the sensory representation of the object or the information perceived is created.
Long term memory is composed of implicit and explicit memory. Explicit memory entails information that can be remembered consciously. This involves everything that one can remember. Moreover, explicit memory is also divided into episodic and semantic memory; episodic memory involves personal information or experiences, while semantic memory involves information about events and actual events that took place. Thus, the ability to remember information, for example in an examination, is as a result of explicit memory. On the other hand, implicit memory involves memories that are not called consciously. Sometimes it is even difficult to demonstrate its existence. However, implicit memories play a great role in influencing our behavior. Implicit memory involves procedural memory (memories on how to do things such as driving a car) and conditional effects that involves memories that are always formed more or less automatically as a result of a particular condition (Carlson, 2010). It is important to note that both implicit and explicit memory are processed and stored in various parts of the brain. As earlier stated, cognition focuses on the way information is processed by human beings. It also takes into consideration how we treat information that we perceive as well as the behaviors that are stimulated by the stimuli. Thus, cognition entails internal processes and responses to a given message.
According to Dr. Milner, the dorsolateral frontal cortex plays a critical role in influencing the organization of information in the long term memory. He argues that there are complex cognitive functions in the brain that help in understanding and exposition of information. He argues that representation of language in the brain varies in both right and left handed as well as in ambidextrous individuals (Castro, 2010). Thus, there is a relationship between hand and lateralization of speech, something that affects the lesions and the cerebral organization of information at maturity. He maintains that any damage to the brain can lead to reorganization of information
Human beings have schemes that are responsible for organizing information and converting it in a way that it can be understood. It is suggested that if people have the same schemata, they are likely to organize and convert information in the same manner. This implies that the understanding will be the same. As a result, different individuals are able to view the same object identically hence have the same interpretation. According to Benjamin Lee Whorf, language may play a great role in determining the way one thinks about a particular occurrence. Thus, memory may not entail the process of associating words, but it is also concerned with various concepts and ideas pertaining to certain information. In some instance, Agnosia, which entails the impairment of the individual’s capacity to recognize objects, may play a role in disrupting the process of perception to the meaning attached to a certain phenomenon (Mandler, 2011). Hence, this distorts the organization and interpretation of the meaning of words and objects.
According to the recent study by Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center (2010), getting old is not the only reason for mild memory lapses. Researchers at Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center have established that early mild notable changes in the memory are common in old age. These cases are associated with dementia that is caused by brain lesions as well as those associated with Alzheimer's disease among other types of dementia. Dementia involves the loss of mental skills; something that affects our daily life. This affects the ability to think and plan. Early mild cognitive changes are no longer associated with aging, but are signs of progressive dementia (De Wilde et al, 2010). The focus has been given to the rate at which cognitive change is taking place over a given period of time. Notably, there is a gradual decline with normal aging. However, very strong changes affect the cognitive function at a higher rate. Moreovver, higher tangle density affects all forms of cognition. This leads to a gradual loss of memory. The study stipulates that Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias play a great role in affecting the virtual loss of cognition as well as decline of memory with age (Bauer, 2009). Therefore, information stored in the long term memory can be lost for various reasons. This hinders the rate at which information can be recalled from the brain. Moreover, it hinders reorganization of information in the long term memory causing memory lapses(Castro, 2010). Epistemological studies show that dementia can be minimized by taking the right diet for example fish. In addition, it establishes that people with high intake of DHA and EPA have lower risk of dementia. Thus, cognitive decline can be minimized through intake of certain products, something that goes to an extent of reducing impairment of memory.
The study also associates high omega fatty acid energy with reduced cognitive impairment. Thus, this can be used to prevent against cognitive decline associated with aging. On the other hand, cognitive development in children has been associated with high level of intake of fish during pregnancy. Virtually, maternal fish consumption has some benefits for the infants. For example, it results in high preference on recognition memory as well as verbal intelligence which is highly associated with memory development. On the same, breastfed infants tend to have high DHA status for the first two months (Mandler, 2011). This enables the child to develop better language as well as higher comprehension up to 18 months. The study, therefore, recommends that in order to improve the cognitive awareness of the child, pregnant mothers are advised to take fish regularly in order to facilitate the development of language and memory comprehension of their infants (Stanovich, 2009). This implies that intelligent quotient can be improved through maternal sea food intake. Virtually, low sea food intake is associated with negative outcomes such as pro-social behaviors, communication and social development scores on the part of the child.
Fatty acids also affect cognition. Virtually, fatty acids are involved in the process of cognition and memory development. It is has been established that approximately 50 % of the adult brain is composed of lipids (De Wilde et al., 2010). Therefore, consumption of fatty acids is recommended for development of brain cells. In this case, fatty acids facilitate development of brain cell membranes as well as intercellular neuronal connections that play a vital role in memory and cognition. Notably, lack of omega-3 weakens the cellular networks in the brain. This is so because omega-3 available in the brain is used in the processes of cognition and memory. Moreover, it reduces the stability of the brain making it susceptible to several types of mental illnesses (Milner, 2008). On the other hand, Anticholinergic drugs have also been associated with the loss of memory. This causes cognitive impairment when such drugs are administered for a long period of time. This mainly affects young children who are exposed to such drugs.
In conclusion, as analyzed above, memory and cognition are important human components. Without memory and cognition there is no life. Notably, memory and cognition have two interrelated roles since they play almost similar roles in the brain. Stimuli received from the external world is taken to the brain where undergoes through several process before it is interrelated. Thus, depending on the prevailing circumstances, perception is different in different human beings. We all perceive differently even if the message is the same. Moreover, information in memory be can reorganized as well as disrupted by various factors. This hinders our capacity to recall previously stored information. Although aging has been associated with the memory lapse, other factors also play a great role in the decline of the information stored in the brain. Moreover, maternal consumption also influences the cognitive development amongof the infants; intake of seafood, for example, facilitates memory development.