Using science to ace a test

The science behind memory


Photo courtesy of Pixabay via Creative Commons

Days before a test can be extremely stressful, especially if it is on a new and difficult topic. According to, memorization is, “the process of committing something to memory.” But what exactly is going on in the brain while memorizing notes?

According to HowStuffWorks, encoding is the first step of creating a memory. This intricate process starts off with using the five senses. Sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste trigger the development of memories.

Senior Kendal Chun gives his opinion on the importance of the five senses to memory, “The most common piece of information that people know about memory is the five senses. The five senses add details to a memory.”  

Consider walking into Battlefield on the first day of school. Once inside, one would see people surrounding and walking around the white hallways. One may touch the door to open it, or hug friends they have not seen all summer. The smell of Axe body spray or other perfumes permeates the crowded hallways. These senses travel to the hippocampus part of the brain, which forms these perceptions into one single experience and files them away as the first day of school. The hippocampus and the frontal cortex are responsible for analyzing the experiences and determining whether it is worth remembering. If it is, it becomes a part of the long-term memory. Although memory begins with perception, it is encoded using electricity and chemicals. HowStuffWorks states, Nerve cells connect with other cells at a point called a synapse.”

The brain’s actions occur at these synapses. states, “A synapse is like a bustling port, complete with machinery for sending and receiving cargo- neurotransmitters, specialized chemicals that convey signals between neurons.” They attach to neighboring cells and form thousands of links. The more links are created, the stronger the synapse gets.

With every new memory, the brain rewires its physical form and changes how it functions. According to News Medical, a website for medical news and global research, “The human brain is divided into three parts: the Forebrain, Midbrain, and Brainstem or hindbrain.” The Forebrain region is the most complicated and highly developed part of the brain. It is involved in problem solving and contains the cerebral cortex. The Midbrain region is responsible for vision, hearing, temperature control, motor control and alertness. The Brainstem contains vital structures that controls breathing, heart rate, digestion and the cerebellum, which coordinates sensory input and maintains muscle movement and balance. These regions of the brain remold their physical structure every time a new memory is formed. Remolding the physical structure is essential to changing the brain’s mechanisms to increase how the brain perceives new information.

The brain is like the weather; it is constantly changing its physical structure and adding new information to expand knowledge. Understanding the memorization part of the brain is vital to offer insight into human behavior and increase the probability of getting an “A” on a test.