The Myth of Memory

September 15, 2019 Joe Brady

Improving Memory, Learning and Concentration

Age related memory loss?

In the absence of any disorders, a healthy human brain shows no measurable decline as we age. Only 14% of folks over the age of 65 show any measurable memory loss whatsoever. That means you have an 86% chance of going to you grave as sharp as you ever were. Assuming you were all that sharp to begin with.

Aging doesn’t necessarily cause memory loss as we get older. Older adults who have an active lifestyle, including regular physical activity, mental activity, and social interaction, could have a short-term memory as sharp as any young person.

Some things do change

There are some things that change about memory as we get older and that can lead people to the false conclusion that memory loss is inevitable. In some memory studies, young people and older subjects are given memory test and told they had to finish in a certain time frame. sure enough older adults took longer to finish the test. When the time limits are removed the older adults do fine. Does that mean the brain is slowing down? Not necessarily. If you took all the memories of an eighteen-year-old and put the in filling cabinets, how many fill-in cabinets would you have? In an eighty years old how many filling cabinets would you have? Is it really unreasonable to expect it would take longer for the brain to search 80 cabinets worth of memories than it would search two? That is basically the conclusion of “The Myth of Cognitive Decline: Non-Linear Dynamics of Lifelong learning” an article in Topics in Cognitive Science 

Read the whole article https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/tops.12078

Memory is A Skill That Must be Practiced

Memory is a skill that must be practiced. 86% of memory problems are a result of inattentiveness, lack of effort ie. not writing it down, or nervousness. I have taught in higher education my whole life and no matter what age a student is if they are not paying attention they will not remember what is being presented in class. If they do not take good notes they will not remember the lectures (handouts don’t work). Have you ever wondered why doctors have such lousy handwriting? They teach them that in medical school. they make them take notes so fast and furiously that they all develope their own form of shorthand. OLder adults need to pay attention more and take good notes just like anyone else to have agood memory.

Keys to a good memory at any age

Stress reduction

Even just a few day’s of stress releasing the hormone cortisol can show impairment in memory.

Physical Activity

A recent study of older adults between ages 60 and 75 found that mental tasks like scheduling, planning, inhibition, and memory—improved in a group taking aerobic exercise but not in a control group.

Healthy diet

A recent investigation found that a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil is protective against age related cognitive decline. Antioxidant vitamins may also protect the brain. In people with mild memory complaints, vitamins E and C may protect brain health, but at what dose is not known.

Lifelong learning

Research supports the idea that continual, life long mental stimulation is healthy for human brains as well. People with advanced education and professional accomplishments tend to have greater density of neuronal connections in brain areas involved in complex reasoning. There is however not a lot of actual data supporting the idea that lifelong learning maintains brain function in older adults. Most of the research makes an argumentative case that it should but because of the complex nature of lifelong learning activities it is difficult to conduct good studies. At the university of Denver we are currently working on research using the latest technology in information sciences to try to tackle the complexities involved. (stay tuned)

For More see

 BMJ. 2002 Jun 22; 324(7352): 1502–1505.

doi: 10.1136/bmj.324.7352.1502

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123445/

We Need to Care Enough to Find out What is Really Wrong

Getting the right diagnosis is important so that you know what options you have, because symptoms subside when the underlying problem is treated. many dementias are reversible.

1. depression

2. dehydration can lead to confusion, weakness, urinary tract infections, pneumonia,

3. drugs that can cause dementia-like symptoms is long. It includes:

• antidepressants

• antihistamines

• anti-Parkinson drugs

• anti-anxiety medications

• cardiovascular drugs

• anticonvulsants

• corticosteroids

• narcotics

• sedatives

Nutritional deficiencies – B1, B6, B12 deficiencies

thyroid problems Metabolic problems and endocrine abnormalities.

alcoholism 

hypothyroidism

Infections and immune disorders.

hypoxia, occurs when organ tissues aren’t getting enough oxygen. Anoxia can occur due to severe asthma, heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning or other causes.