Short term memory is responsible for letting people remember telephone numbers and addresses for a short duration. Such types of memories are usually stores in the brain on a temporary basis, and if these memories are necessary, they are converted to long term memory. However, it is interesting to learn which part of the brain stores short term memory.
Memory is a highly complex process, and is not as simple as it sounds. The prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is a part of the frontal lobe, is responsible for short term memory. The prefrontal lobe of the brain is also known as coordinator for short term memory, as it is responsible for the way short term memories are utilized. Based on the imaging of the brain, it is evident that the prefrontal cortex is activated when rehearsals take place, a step that is essential for changing short term memories into long term memories. However, it is the hippocampus that is responsible for making short term memories into long term memories. The hippocampus is located in the temporal lobe of the brain. For a short term memory to be converted to long term memory, it has to pass through the hippocampus several times.
Once the short term memory is converted into long term memory, it is stored in the cerebral cortex of the brain. This is the outmost layer of the brain and composed of the gray matter. Once this occurs, the memory no longer requires the hippocampus and can be remembered at any point by the person.
The importance of short term memory should not be undermined. It is the memory that allows us to do many things on a day-to-day. Many simple tasks, such as remembering where you kept your wallet/purse or keys is a result of short term memory. Also, a lot of data from short term memory helps up learn new things, which are then passed on to the long term memory. Hence, when a person sustains a brain trauma, it may adversely affect the short term memory, which, in turn, will not allow a person to learn new things. Hence, care should be taken not to cause any type of trauma to the brain, especially to the frontal lobe, which houses the prefrontal cortex, where the short term memory occurs.
If you are facing memory problems related to short term memory, you should visit a doctor. However, it is not necessary that short term memory is always a result of a health issue. Taking certain medications or being overly stressed can also result in loss of short term memory. Stopping the offending medication or handling stress more effectively will restore the short term memory.
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