Transactive Memory: Means to a Healthy Memory and Brain

In human memory a distinction is made between memories that are available and memories that are accessible. Accessible memories are those that can be recalled right away without any difficulty. Memories can still be available but be inaccessible at the moment. So these are memories that you know are stored in your memory, but you cannot find them now. Later, or given the appropriate prompt or cue, these memories can become accessible.

Transactive memory refers to memories that are stored external to your brain. Books, computers, the internet, as well as other human beings are all types of transactive memory. Information that is accessible in transactive memory is information that you can locate or retrieve quickly. You know where it is. It is literally at your fingertips. Information can also be available but not accessible in transactive memory. This is information that you know is available someplace, but you do not remember how to locate or access it. If you are on your computer, this is when you use your search function.

There is yet another type of transactive memory. This is potential transactive memory. Potential transactive memory could include all memories stored in the world.  This would include both technological (paper and electronic) storage and biological (data held in human memories) storage. It is termed potential transactive memory because of its huge potential for enhancing an individual’s transactive memory. This is information that can be brought to different levels in either transactive memory, available or accessible, or personal memory, available or accessible. As the amount of information in potential transactive memory is truly overwhelming, one must be careful what to pursue. But purse, we must, particularly if we want to age effectively.

Remember also that your fellow humans are also a source of potential transactive memory. Learn from others. They provide the benefit of social interaction, which is beneficial to all, but which becomes particularly beneficial as we age.

 © Douglas Griffith and, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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