Considerations and Memory


I am a dedicated follower of the Brain Pickings newsletter of Maria Popova.  A recent piece discussed short- and long-term memory.  According to the piece, short-term memory consists of four so-called slave systems. Of interest to me and of relevance to this blog is the fourth slave: the episodic buffer.  This buffer “gathers all of the diverse information in from the other slaves, and maybe other information from elsewhere, and integrates them together into what might be described as a multimedia memory.” if you’ve read other posts to this blog or have discussed “considerations” with me, I trust you will hopefully see that this episodic buffer could also be termed short-term memory considerations. i of course am not a brain-function researcher. But I am a firm believer in the importance of “considerations” to effective, deeper learning. Again to me this is the development of long-term memory. Continuing this thinking, may I suggest a few items relating this transferring knowledge from short-term memory to long-term memory:

  • The transfer is the conscious expansion of the considerations relative to the topic. Whereas short-term memory happens “on the fly” as events raise the topic, the transfer to long-term memory happens by design.  That is, the learner decides the importance and sets out to deliberately build long-term memory. To me this means identifying other information to integrate into the vision of the topic as I’ve chosen to call the outcome. In particular, this additional information should include contrasting viewpoints (e.g., if the initial short-term memory resulted from a cold-weather experience, then effort must be made to find comparable information related to the other seasonal weather experiences).
  • The transfer will improve when these additional sources enable the comparison of these viewpoints. Some outcomes will not vary with contrasting viewpoints, some will. Not only will the vision be more complete (helpful in subsequent use), I am convinced the vision will provide those “hooks” to provide recall from long-term memory.
  • it is important to remember that increasing the viewpoints will also help identify the “outliers” – those that don’t mesh with other viewpoints. The tendency is to immediately dismiss those viewpoints as flawed in some way, a distinct possibility. But it’s best, I suggest, to keep them included in the vision – identified as     appropriate. Subsequent discussion or application of the vision will provide input supporting the validity of the viewpoint or its classification as an outlier.
  • The considerations will enable that vision to reside in long-term memory. But now to what the late Paul Harvey called “the rest of the story.” The vision demands regular assessment, starting with self-assessment of course: based upon additional viewpoints gathered as they are identified. But there is also a need for discussion with others. This discussion has many benefits: identification of inappropriate interpretations, of additional interpretations, and further reinforcement of those “hooks” to name just a few.
  • And of course, there is the ultimate reinforcement of and reason for developing this long-term memory: its application to address situations that make people’s lives better.  It’s reinforcement because not all applications will go as planned of course (maybe very few?) – more input to the refinement of the vision; and of course, this refinement emphasizes the hooks as well.

Summarizing then, there is apparently the most elementary levels of my “considerations” notion in short-term memory. However, it’s the conscious expansion of these considerations resulting in the vision, together with the assessing / refining of that vision through discussions with others and applications, that lead to valuable long-term memory. I trust this posting will prove of some value to you – in term of your understanding of short- and long-term memory. More importantly, possibly, this posting might provide input to the process / plan that I utilize when I “consider” a topic (memory) triggered by an article identified of value to me.


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