The adult human brain weighs about three pounds. In that bundle of nerves there is an area called the hippocampus. This is the command tower for your memories.
Information comes to us from the outside world in very basic ways. We use our senses. We observe the world through hearing, smelling, seeing, touching and tasting. When we experience something it is stored in the cortex of the brain. Scientists have been able to establish which lobes or sections of the brain memories are stored in. The short-term memory stimulates the frontal lobe of the brain. Auditory information is stored in the temporal lobe of the brain. The parietal lobe is where the tasting and touches senses call home. Vision in captured in the occipital lobe. The hippocampus controls how all these interact.
Short term memory is kind of an emergency stop. It holds a very small amount of data for a very limited time before it separates out into our long term memory. It then moves through the neuron network to the proper lobe waiting to be retrieved at a later date.
So let's walk through this with a simple object and see if we can follow the logic. Lets say you see a basket ball bounce on a court. Your sense of sight may register round, orange, black striping. That information passes through the short term memory and then the hippocampus sends it to the occipital lobe. As it travels it leaves a trail. You may hear the thud of the ball bouncing on the court. That information is transmitted to the temporal lobe leaving a trail as well. Perhaps there is someone vending popcorn so the predominant smell would be the smell of popcorn. It is sent to the parietal lobe. As every new path is created it crosses the trails of other information stored in the lobes of the brain. Associations are created.
If you stop and think about it you can make some sense of it all. For example, the smell of lilacs puts me in the entry way of our family home. I can smell it. I can clearly close my eyes and see the bouquet and my mother standing next to it. One whiff of a lilac brings me right there.
Knowing how the brain stores memories is very helpful when studying for an exam. For example, when you are studying to want to create a number of paths through your three pound brain mass so they cross and you can get to the memories more than one way. Hold the same kind of pen, pencil or keyboard that you will be using on the exam. Write, type, read the material and say it out loud. Wear the same kind of perfume or cologne or put a scented dryer sheet in your pocket. If chewing gum or mints are allowed use them as well. When you take the test all of your lobes can help you remember. (Don't forget to wear or bring the scent with you.)
You will be amazed how many details your hippocampus can put together if you put information in all the lobes.
Keep that brain active. Keep building new trails with new information. Go ahead, try and fill it up!