Yes it’s a shame to end up after a full and interesting life to lose your ability to recall events and people you knew but all the more reason to get done what you are meant to do while you can.
Our health is only appreciated when we lose it and so it is with our memory.
As we age our brain cells stop dividing, this process is “senesce” and cells that do replicate can accumulate DNA damage, just like taking photo copies again and again the copy gets less and less detail.
This process is natural and it is believed that this is the body’s own mechanism to minimise corrupted cells from reproducing. A brilliant natural mechanism when our life expectancy was a lot less than it is today.
So after all this time how much do we know about memory? How good are we at remembering?
The truth is we are not very good at it. We make bits up to fill gaps that are missing. Our brain does this for our eyes when we now know that there is a hole in the middle of our eye which does not see anything and our brain makes up something to fill in the space.
Research has found that our memory may not be to remember things but to allow us to imagine what might be.
Endel Tulving discovered sufferers of amnesia could remember facts but not memories.
We think about the possibilities in the future this is imagination.
Our short term memory is like an electrical scratch pad and we are limited to about seven items. When we file items in our long term memory there is a chemical process which is generated by emotion and when ever that emotion is repeated we can remember.
Our friends, partners and spouses share our memoires and this is a collective way of remembering. It also explains why we notice deterioration in our wellbeing when we lose someone close to us who had prompted us to recall common memories.
We have lost in effect part of our mind.
Our memories do not start while we are young. This is proved by our lack of ability to recall a large amount of what happened to us before adolescence. After adolescence we can talk for a long time about our lives and our experiences. Some things happen to our brains during this period.
Depression has links to how we can remember, when life is difficult and stressful we get forgetful and our ability to recall specific events becomes impaired, we tend to generalise our feelings.
So what is a good way to remember? Cramming material in a short time does not work. Piece meal over a few days has been shown to work much better.
Exercise helps us remember better than just sitting in one spot. We just need to get up and move about at intervals.
A diet high in sugar should be avoided as sugar encourages the build up of protein plague which is common in the brains of Alzheimers. Foods which help us are blueberries, strawberries, oily fish and olive oil. Nothing like the good old faithful antioxidants and flavonoids we need to help us keep at our best.
One other thing which helps us remember is not to remember those nasty things which happen to us.
Being optimistic helps us remember.
A main reason for having our brain is to anticipate events, our expectations determine our lives.
”Man is a goal-seeking animal.
His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and
striving for goals.”
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