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Initial caveat: I have very little formal education in psychology or other cognitive sciences - just a couple classes in college. I read the guidelines in the site FAQ, but I'll understand if this question isn't right for this site.


This is a question about the structure of memory. Based on my own experience with memory (which I hope is not too pathological) as well as the way memory is commonly described, I have the impression that the brain stores memory hierarchically: at the top level is a broad sense of what happened, below that are some basic ingredients (people, places, objects, etc.), below that are detailed images and narratives, and so on.

As a crude example, sometimes when watch a movie before going to bed I will wake up with the ability to remember that I had watched a movie and vaguely what the genre was, but it will take some time to remember the name of he movie or the actors / characters, and longer still to recall any specific details about the plot.

I've managed to read a bit on the duration and reliability of memories and some about how they are stored in neurons, but I'm not sure where to look for information about the structure of larger memories and how they are recalled. Does anybody have any insight or suggestions?

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