Why do you remember a song perfectly but not your anniversary?

It may be that you did not remember that your anniversary was May 19 or you forgot to congratulate your mother on June 23. Nonetheless, yes on the radio they recover a song from Van Gogh's Ear 20 years ago, do you remember the lyrics to perfection.

The same can happen to us with studies. Although we may not be able to remember the lesson studied thoroughly the day before, we are very clear about that song that a few months ago you heard a couple of times.

The reason why some songs remain in our memory permanently is a mystery. However everything points to three directions of the functioning of our brain.

Emotional memory

“Memory always has a double cognitive and emotional component. The cognitive corresponds to the process of recording and storing the information that we retain and the emotional refers to the feelings that accompany memory”, Explains to El Confidencial José Antonio Portellano Pérez, neuropsychologist and professor of Psychobiology at the Complutense University of Madrid.

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“Certain structures such as the temporal lobe and the hippocampus intervene in the process of cognitive storage of memory, while in the emotional memory other brain structures intervene, such as the tonsillar nucleus and the limbic system, which 'decide' the positive or negative emotional meaning of the material to be memorized”, Develops the doctor in Psychology.

In general terms, the more intense the emotional component, the greater the chances of retaining what has been learned and that the memory last longer, especially if the memory is accompanied by positive emotions. “However, there may be exceptions, since highly negative emotionally charged events can be blocked and sometimes there is difficulty in remembering unpleasant events. This fact could explain why we do not remember some events with the same ease as others ”, he points out.

Repeated exposure to a song

The repeated exposure that we live to a song in stores, bars, radio and television is also an important factor that makes us retain that melody: “To memorize it is necessary the successive repetition of the stimuli that we wish to archive and, therefore, the Repeated exposure of a melody can make it easier to memorize. But it is necessary that the stimulus we want to memorize (the song) motivates us, since otherwise the possibilities of generating new brain circuits are less ”.

After assimilating that song that we have heard everywhere until exhaustion we are able to remember it for years for the way it is consolidated in our brain.

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The neuropsychologist explains that everything we memorize is stored in the brain in the form of 'engrams', which are consolidated neurological circuits that contain the memorized material. Therefore, consolidated memory is accompanied by more consistent and durable brain circuits. "Memory resembles a highway: the more efficiently we memorize something, the greater possibilities exist that we will generate a more consolidated 'neural highway' inside the brain, while if the memorization process is lighter, circuits or 'roads' are not built or consolidated brain that allow to retain the memorized material ”, he points out.

Semantic memory

When we learn and memorize any type of information – such as a poem, the lyrics of a song or the complete line-up of a football team – we activate semantic memory, which implies the archive and memory of all the information we acquireexplains Portellano. But when we remember when and where an event occurred or when we learned something new, we start up episodic memory, which requires activation of the frontal lobe.

“Semantic memory allows us to memorize while episodic memory allows us to record when we learned something. For that reason, it is more likely that let's remember the lyrics of a song that not the time and place where we learned it, since it implies a higher level of demand ”, says the neuropsychologist.

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