Human Memory

This is a project about how memory works and what factors affect it. You will see that a small experimant was done to prove the theory that everybody's brain has different memory capabilities.
Riddhima Chotaliya
Grade 7


What is memory and why is it different from person to person?



Memory is the process of remembering things, but I think that it fades with age because the brain grows weaker after a certain age. Every human has different health conditions so memory is different for everyone.


I will be showing 3 participants an image for a fixed time and then asking them certain questions about the image. This will test their photographic memory and help me understand what factors play a part in how strong or weak memory is. I will also tell them a sequence of numbers and have them repeat it back to me. This will test their short term memory.


How does Memory Work?

 Memory is one of the greatest things the human mind can acheive and it can be a complicated process, depending on the information that is administered to the brain.


The Process of Remembering

1: Encoding - Information is given to the brain

2: Storage - The brain stores that information where it can access it later on 

3: Retrieval - Information is recollected in response to a question or activity


Memory and the Brain

Our brain is divided into different lobes, or sections. Each section is responsible for a task, such as hearing, vision, touch, emotion and memory. The lobe that is in charge of  memory is the temporal lobe.

Lobes of the Brain | Introduction to Psychology

The lobes are split into even more parts; the parts of the brain each play a big role in our day to day life. Here is a diagram showing the brain parts that control memory:

An illustration of a brain shows the location of the amygdala, hippocampus, cerebellum, and prefrontal cortex.

Prefrontal Cortex

- In charge of short term memory 

- Only stores the information for about 1 minute and has a maximum limit of about 10 facts. 


- In charge of regulating and remembering emotions


- Processes long term memory

- Information can be stored for a lifetime and has no maximun capacity.


- Takes care of skill memory

- Can store learned memories and skills for an unlimited time period


Types of Memory

There are many types and stages of memory, but the 4 main types are: short term, long term, working memory, and sensory memory. Short and long term memory can be interpreted as stages of memory because short term information, can gradually turn into long term.

Short term memory is information that only lasts for less than a minute. It has a very limited capacity and fades away after a short period of time. Some examples of short term memory are: an address or phone number; the name of someone you just met, and a sequence of words or numbers. However, this information can turn into long term memory if you recite it a lot or practice to memorize it. 

Long term memory is information that can last forever. Scientists divide this type of memory into 2 categories: implicit and explicit. Implicit long term memories can affect the way a person acts or does things. An example of implicit memory is procedural memories. These memories are simple skil memories. Driving, walking and  tying a shoe are all examples of procedural memory; you have to learn and practice doing it first but over time it becomes automatic. Explicit memories include episodic and semantic memory. Episodic memories are memories that allow you to recall events that have occured in your life. Some examples are: a childhood memory, a birthday party, and other personal facts. Semantic memories are general knowledge and facts that you have learned. For example, knowing what the human brain looks like, even if you have not seen it, studying and learning about it creates a semantic memory.

Working memory is remembering things that relate to the specific task you are doing. It is short term and only lasts for about a minute. Examples of working memory are: remembering the ingredient of a cake before adding the next one in, doing a presentation and remembering all of the points you need to state.

Sensory memory helps the brain recognize the 5 senses. If you smell pizza in the kitchen, your brain remembers the smell and and you would know what the scent is (in this case, pizza) . The same is true for touch, taste, sight and hearing.


What Affects Memory?

Every brain is different and everyone's memory can vary, depending on some of the following conditions.

- Age : Very young children might not have developed their brain fully so they cannot recall certain things. As humans age, they tend to become more forgetful because their neural growth declines.

- Health: There are many diseases that can impact memory, such as Alzheimers or other forms of dementia. The cells of the brain can get attacked by the disease and cause forgetfulness and memory loss.

- Drowsiness: Lack of rest can also affect memory because if a person is tired, that means they are not fully concentrated. This causes forgetfulness.

- Distractions: Distractions mean that you are not focused and this negatively impacts memory.

- Diet: Studies have shown that food choices affect memory and overall health in general.

- Emotional Illnesses: Stress, anxiety and depression are all connected to memory loss. Most of the time, this is only temporary and memory loss can go away if the emotional issue is resolved.

- Injuries: Head injuries can cause memory loss because the part of your brain may get damaged. This can cause amnesia temporarily or permanently, depending on the injury.


What Improves Memory?

Although memory is not something you can control, there are certain things you can do to keep your brain healthy. Some things to do are:

- Eating healthy: This keeps not only the brain healthy, but the entire body too.

- Brain puzzles: Riddles and puzzles are a great way to keep your brain active and healthy.  

How to Not Suck at Jigsaw Puzzles, According to an Expert


Photographic Memory Test

The image being shown to participants:

Stabilo & The Memory of Colour - The Theory | Cult Pens

Time allowed to study the image: 1 minute

Participants Questions being asked Responses Score

      Participant 1

 (Male, 46 )

- What are 5 things you saw in the image? (5 pts.)

Pineapple, strawberry, orange, radish, tomato

- True or false: There is a paperclip in the image? (1 pt.) True
What colour is the pepper in the image? (1 pt) Yellow
- Name one type of fruit that was on the picture (1 pt.) Pineapple
- How many dogs are in the picture? (3 pts) 3

  Participant 2

(Female, 42)

-What are 5 things you saw in the image? (5 pts.)

Cat, dog, rabbit, orange, mosquito coil 11/11
- True or false: There is a paperclip in the image? (1 pt.) True
- What colour is the pepper in the image? (1 pt) Yellow
- Name one type of fruit that was on the picture (1 pt. Orange
- How many dogs are in the picture? (3 pts) 3

 Participant 3

(Male, 10)

- What are 5 things you saw in the image? (5 pts.)

Rabbit, hat, paperclip, sunglasses, dart board 9/11
- True or false: There is a paperclip in the image? (1 pt.) True
- What colour is the pepper in the image? (1 pt) Red
- Name one type of fruit that was on the picture (1 pt.) Tomato
- How many dogs are in the picture? (3 pts) 2


Short Term Memory Test

Sequence of numbers (generated from number generator):

7 3 9 7 6 1 5 9 4 3 

Participants Responses
Participant 1 (Male, 46) 7 3 7 9 1 6 4 3 2 0
Participant 2 (Female, 42) 7 1 3 9 7 5 8 1 9 3 
Participant 3 (Male, 10) 7 3 9 6 7 9 3 5 4 6 



My hypothesis was partially correct. Memory is a complex proccess and each brain has different abilities but based on my results, I can prove that kids usually have a better short term memory, in comparison to adults. This might not be true all of the time, but generally younger people have better memory because their brain is not filled with as much information as an older person's brain is. The participants of my experiment are all healthy and well, so the results may have been different if they weren't. In my experiment, the different genders of similar ages, had similar results, so I do not think that memory is affected by gender all that much.





Images used:


- My participants all helped me understand the topic by allowing me to perform a test on them.