Which part of the brain controls memory?

which part of the brain controls memoryWhich part of the brain controls memory? Let’s be clear .A very interesting topic is to understand how to develop the ability to learn, what are the mechanisms of memory and oblivion. This knowledge can help to improve our professional performance and human relationships.

Differences between right and left hemispheres

Symmetrical but not identical in terms of function, the two cerebral hemispheres encode different types of memories. Our “engineer”: analytical and rational, the left hemisphere processes the memories concerning linguistic processes. He is also more competent in the evaluation of sequential processes and in the perception/management of events that follow one another over time, including the logical concatenation of thought. Our “poet”: more specialized in visual processing, in the perception of images and in the complexity of stimuli, the right hemisphere is instead sensitive and irrational. Responsible for spatial organization and emotional interpretation, creativity originates from it. The engineer needs the poet and the poet needs the engineer. The two hemispheres transmit information through the fibres of the calloused body, in a dialogue that makes human life a profound and meaningful experience!

Physiology of memory

The information is stored in different places from which it is retrieved.But which part of the brain controls memory. The sensory memory holds for a few moments the information coming from the sensory organs, discarding 75% of it. Of the remaining 25%, only less than 1% is selected in the language area and stored in the primary memory (short-term memory), the most limited repository of the brain. The brain is able to abstract figurative impressions, verbalize what has been learned and associate it with previous information. The more possible the associations are, the easier it is for what has been learned to be remembered for longer periods of time. the information is kept in the primary memory for a period varying between a few seconds and a few minutes.  The transmission of information from primary to secondary memory is a delicate process. Remaining on the topic which part of the brain controls memory, who decides which notion should be remembered and which forgotten?

The hippocampus

The hippocampus is a nerve formation located on the lower edge of the lateral ventricles, above the cerebellum. The hippocampus is part of the limbic system which is the area of the brain responsible for managing emotions. In addition to the hippocampus, the limbic system includes the convolution that covers it (para-ippocampal convolution), the convolution of the caterpillar above the so-called corpus callosum and the fornix.  All the components of the limbic system (strictly connected to the hypothalamus) regulate the behaviours related to the primary needs for the survival of the individual and of the species: eating, drinking, obtaining food and sexual relations as well as, for an evolved species like man, the interpretations of the signals coming from the others and from the environment.  This area of the brain manages emotions, feelings and therefore also our perception of reality.Since the hippocampus deals with the function of selecting the information to be transferred to secondary memory, it follows that learning and oblivion are greatly influenced by positive and negative emotions.  If you feel disgust at a subject, you have little chance of learning it.  Positive basic learning (playful learning) stimulates the rate of transfer to secondary memory, whereas a negative attitude makes learning more difficult.  A positive attitude can arise spontaneously, but can be greatly increased by stimulating motivation, including self-motivation.

How information is stored in the brain

No specific stored information is deleted. That is, there are no areas where individual data are stored, such as on a computer’s hard drive.  If you recall a piece of data, it is sufficient to present a small part of the model (an association) and the entire model is reconstructed.  If different associations are used for similar models, confusion can arise. Our memory depends on the period of our most empty memories, our earliest childhood. First years of life are the period in which memory is best trained with nursery rhymes, stories, images, places and faces always different that we encounter. In the early stages of life, in fact, the brain proceeds frantically, stimulated by a series of stimuli and new experiences. Between the ages of two and four , the cognitive development of the child has already completed its initial phase.

And already then the brain begins to reduce its mnemonic abilities. Now it is certain that the brain of children needs to be activated well before the age of kindergarten, otherwise the nervous system may not fully develop the functions of learning and memorization. So let’s give the go-ahead for solicitations with picture books, fairy tales, stories, nursery rhymes (without resorting to television). The most relevant memory is of a declared type, it includes our stories, the autobiographical narrative, the episodes connoted by a who, a what, a where and a when. The paradoxical aspect is that the phase of the greatest learning of the children coincides with the period in which nothing will be remembered. This is because, up to the age of four, all events are experienced and quickly forgotten. The so-called childhood amnesia is present in humans, but also in other animal species. The inability to form lasting memories seems to be linked to the immaturity of the hippocampus, the area of the brain where long-term memories are formed, or an effect of the rapid formation of new neurons and synapses, a process that would interfere with the stabilization of memories.

Serial memory

The brain, does not store the data as a Photograph, but through associations, with a process similar to the hologram, and it is possible, even when not all the data are called, to obtain an entire image, even if blurred.

Short-term and long-term memory

There are two mechanisms for storing information, one for short-term memory and one for long-term memory .  In temporary (short-term) memory there is a rapid deterioration of information, while long-term memory stores information in a substantially stable manner.  If the information arriving is not being watched, are immediately erase, even if it can be restored by means of a repetition.  The short-term memory capacity is therefore limited: if an information is not repeated frequently enough, it disappears. The set of data present at each moment in the short-term memory is called a repetition pad. The information is stored in the pad until it is transferred to the long-term memory or until it is replaced by a new one.  Long-term memory is considered to be virtually unlimited, but the reactivation of information can be prevented by the incompleteness of the associations necessary for its identification.

which part of the brain controls memory


Immediate re-enactment of information may be missing because it has not been transmitted to long-term memory. The re-enactment of information from long-term memory may be missing because there are not enough links to focus on it.  This theory also explains why certain memories appear removed: such memories are inaccessible because their presence would be unacceptable to the subject because of the anxiety or feelings of guilt that they might activate. They have not therefore disappeared, but the subconscious prevents the necessary associations from forming.  Individuals affected by amnesia do not forget everything, only the personal elements. This is often due to an emotional trauma that amnesia allows to escape. Often, then, part of these memories reappears when they are evoked by the right associations.

Practical tips

As the hippocampus is responsible for filtering the stimuli to be transferred to memory, we must try to associate positive emotions with the notions that we want to remember. We must try to find, even in an apparently difficult subject, both direct and indirect reasons of interest (for example, the advantages that such knowledge could provide). It is necessary to look for positive motivations and, if there are none, create them with self-motivation. In this phase of self-motivation, you must use all the convincing and communication techniques available to you. It can last a long time, but the results are surprising.  If you undertake a new course of study, if you decide to learn a language you must first be really convinced that the subject interests us and try to stimulate this interest to the maximum, appreciating all the positive aspects, even marginal or indirect. This process can take a long time and can take place at the same time as the study.
To improve the learning of a single notion, taking into account the mechanisms mentioned above, it is advisable to repeat it several times and create as many associations as possible. In this way it will certainly be easier to recall it. For a name it is possible to create associations between a part of it and notions known to us, for a number, for example a date, associations with other numbers or simply associations within the same number.

How to train your brain?

We need to train the muscles to keep them efficient, and so we need to train the brain to keep it at its best potential. In reality, in part, we always do a minimum of training: every day we learn something new, we see something new, or we do something new. But these basic activities are not always enough. As we have already said about memory and which part of the brain controls memory, from an intellectual point of view we tend to make less effort, to simplify, to restrict the field of information, to facilitate our lives. In short, just like sedentary lifestyle makes muscles flaccid, little exercise makes the brain lazy and memory short. What to do? Run for cover when you’re in time! Here are a few simple exercises to stimulate the brain and memory and keep them fresh and productive until late in life:
Use your left hand (or right hand if you’re left-handed): you have no idea how useful it is to try to write, grab objects, do sports or anything else using the hand you don’t usually use. Try, worth it! Eat with chopsticks (if you don’t already know how to do it perfectly). Again, performing an automatic action with new and unused instruments is an incredible exercise for the brain.

Carry out simple or automatic actions with your eyes closed. Without endangering yourself, however, try to wash yourself, make plates, or make your bed again with your eyes closed. It will stimulate your other senses!
Study by heart, it a great exercise!  Learn to play a musical instrument. Difficult? It doesn’t matter if you don’t become a famous, it’s enough that you learn the basics, possibly having fun. Nothing like music is good for the brain, studies have shown that musicians are among the longest-lived individuals and mentally active until late in life. Knit! If you’ve never done it before, you’ll find it’s a pleasantly Stressfree activity and a really effective exercise to train both hemispheres and rejuvenate the brain. You go to work using alternative routes to the usual one. Read it out loud. It serves to stimulate your imagination. When you do your shopping, write down the list, memorize it, and then leave it at home. The exercise is considered successful when you return having purchased everything on the list Learn a foreign language. We don’t have to explain why it’s useful to you…

Foods that keep your brain in shape

Blue fish

Blue fish, especially mackerel and sardine, is the food that contains more omega-3s than anything else. These fatty acids help the brain stay young and reactive, have a powerful anti-inflammatory action and reduce the level of LDL-cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides in the blood.


Walnuts are good sources of omega-3 and contain vitamin E, an essential nutrient for the prevention of dementia. Walnuts are ideal as a hungry snack and as an ingredient in tasty salads.


Flaxseed, and oilseeds in general, owe their beneficial effects to omega-3s. The best way to consume flaxseed is to grind it to enrich salads and other dishes.


The main nutritional characteristic of this fruit is the richness of monounsaturated fatty acids, such as those contained in extra virgin olive oil, and magnesium and potassium that help the brain to stay well active.

which part of the brain controls memory