Home

ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES-03

0103-MEMORY FUNCTIONS, (DHHAKIRAT, HIFDH)

Lecture for 2nd year medical students on 9th March 2001 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.

A. NATURE OF HUMAN MEMORY

MEMORY CAPACITY

Most humans do not develop their memory to the maximum. Most of the memory capacity is unused. Humans are capable of great memory. Memorization of the whole Qur’an is encouraged (Muslim #1743, 1744). Abu Huraira’s memory was prodigious (MB# 100 p 103). Prophet prayed for Abu Huraira’s memory. He memorized a lot of hadith (KS p. 59). He has reported the highest number of hadith (KS p. 59). He had a methodology for memorization (KS p. 59). The great scholars like Shafe’e, Ibn Hanbal, and ‘Asqalani had prodigious memory. It seems that the ability to memorize was higher in the past pre-industrial societies. This could be attributed to both high motivation to learn and the simple society in which the sources of competing information and sensory stimulation were limited.

 

TYPES OF MEMORY

Short-term memory is memory of recent events. It is retained for a short time and is then forgotten. It may be filtered and structured to become part of long-term memory. Long-term is persistent recollection of events a long time after their occurrence. Implicit memory is a type of memory involved in learning a skill. The human is not consciously aware of this memory. Examples of implicit memory are skills like driving or activities of daily living like eating, drinking, and salat.

 

BASIS OF MEMORY

Neurological basis of memory: Neural science is slowly unravelling the architecture of the brain and the storage of information. The research is still in its infancy. More startling findings are expected in the future.

 

Cognitive basis of memory: Some items of information are not stored in the human memory but can be worked out by manipulation of known facts. This is accomplished through knowledge and understanding of inter-relationships. For example a human can use a mathematical formula to generate many facts that otherwise would have had to be memorized.

 

Divine basis of memory: Allah can give humans the capacity to remember information without active human effort. Allah reassured the prophet not to worry about forgetting the Qur’an because Allah would ensure its perfect memorization (75:16)

 

PROCESS OF MEMORY

Encoding is the process of data input into the brain. Structuring which involves changes in the new information in the light of information already stored follows this. Additions to the memory bank lead to considerable organizational changes in the memory architecture. Some of the organization is active whereas the other is latent. Facts are retrieved from memory and interpreted before they are usable in solving novel situations.

C. DEVELOPMENT OF MEMORY

EARLY BRAIN GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT: Effect of age

 

EARLY CHALLENGES: Effect of repetition

 

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT:

 

EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT:

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT:

 

D. ENHANCING MEMORY

Much can be done to improve memory. Supplication, dua, to Allah is the most important. Having clear learning intentions and being focused help improve memory for desired information. For example purposive effort to memorize the Qur’an pay off handsomely, istihfaadh kitaab al llaah (5:44). Selection of what material to memorize helps improve memory. Attempting to memorize too much or too diverse facts is not easy. Memorization is also helped by multiple sensory stimulations. Reading and listening can reinforce one another. Repetitive sensory stimulation helps retention. For example the prophet used to repeat whatever he said three times to make sure it was retained (MB # 82 p 95). The Qur’an is memorized by constant recitation. Decreasing competing environmental stimulation also helps memorization.

 

E. MEMORY DISORDERS

Correct memory, dhabt, is very important. Memory can suffer from decay, distortion, confabulation, moral forgetting and physical forgetting. Distortion may take the form of exaggeration or understatement. Sometimes it is mixing up of facts or giving erroneous facts. Confabulations happen in the elderly who lose some memory because of the dementia and they try to make up lost bits of information to make the conversation smooth. Confabulation could also occur as a community phenomenon in folk tales, asaatwiir. The true revelation was rejected by claiming that it was folk tales of the ancients, asaatwiir al awwaliin (p 105 6:25, 8:31, 16:24, 23:83, 25:5, 27:68, 46:17, 68:15, 83:13). Forgetting is loss of access and not loss of the information. The Qur'an in many verses discussed the various types of forgetting (p. 1218 2:44, 2:106, 2:237, 2:282, 5:13, 5:14, 6:41, 6:44, 7:51, 7:53, 7:165, 9:67, 16:70, 18:61, 18:63, 18:73, 19:23, 20:88, 20:115, 20:126, 22:5, 23:110, 2:18, 28:77, 32:14, 36:78, 38:26, 39:8, 4:34, 59:19, 87:6). Allah does not forget: 19:64, 20:52, 58:6. Humans forget. Adam forgot (p 40 20:115). The worst form of forgetting is that of the signs of Allah, nisyan ayat al llah (p 51 20:126). Shaitan is the cause of forgetting, moral and physical (p. 1219 6:68, 12:42, 58:19, 18:63). Forgetting as a type of negligence: p 869 6:131 … 51:11. Remembrance of Allah, dhikr Allah, cures forgetfulness (p. 1218-19 18:24). It seems that long-term memory is not lost. It is access to it that becomes difficult. Humans forget and are not punished for it: 2:286. Forgetting in acts of ibadat: Forgetting in salat (MB# 366 p 212, Muslim #1159, 1161, 1162, 1163, 1164, 1165, 1166, 1168, 1175, 1176, 1177, 1179, 1180, 1181, 1182, 1184, 1187, 1188). Sujuud al sahaw MB# 631 p 317. Eating, drinking, or sex in Ramadan by mistake (MB# 940 p 445, Muslim #2575). Humans must be reminded of facts in order to retain them: 2:282, 51:55, 80:3, 87:9). Reminding in a moral sense (p 447 6:68-69, 6:90, 7:2, 11:114, 11:120, 19:67, 21:83, 26:209, 29:51, 38:43, 38:46, 39:21, 40:54, 44:13, 47:18, 50:8, 50:37, 51:55, 74:31, 79:35, 79:43, 80:4, 87:9, 89:23) and the physical sense (p. 447 2:283).

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule sr. March 2001