Evolution of Memory Capacity Over Time: Case Studies and Contributing Factors

Memory plays a major role in the lives of individuals and societal systems at large, impacting our capacity to learn, our history, and our cultural identity. Although human capacity to remember has always been an integral part of our existence, it has not been a stagnant characteristic. Memory capabilities and the way in which we employ them have evolved throughout time and space. In my research, I will examine the ways in which memory has changed and present possible factors to account for these changes. In order to fully understand the function of memory, I will first research memory theory and the brain chemistry involved. After gaining a basic understanding, I will begin case studies on memory in various civilizations: ancient (Rome, Greece, Egypt, China), intermediate (Arab empires, enlightened Europe, African kingdoms), and modern (United States, China, Europe). For each of these societies I will determine the basic memory capacity of individuals, although the method I will use for this is still undecided, and compile a list of societal factors that could influence this. Using this data, I will analyze trends in memory strength over time and space to discover the ways in which memory ability has waxed and waned. Finally, I will identify three to four common factors from the lists of case studies and further explore their influence on memory by reading relevant primary research papers. Some anticipated factors include diet and lifestyle, use of technology, and cultural emphasis on history. In conducting this research, I seek to understand what factors, if any, primarily impact an individual’s memory and to suggest possible methods to augment memory strength.