Last week, I planned to attend a lecture
on Memory. Unfortunately, the speaker forgot about it. At first
I thought it must be a joke but it wasn't. Which just goes to
show that people can forget. Even worse people can sometimes
misremember. A friend will recall some experience you shared
years ago and try to remind you only they don't remember it the
way you remember it. So who's right? Don't be so sure.
Philosophers have been talking about
memory for ages saying things like: The weakest ink is better
than the strongest memory. And that's true but it wasn't until
the past few decades that technology made it possible for
scientists to study a living brain. One conclusion is that
memories are far more error prone than you might think. An
eyewitness can be very honest and very convincing... and very
wrong. That's why police officers say two people will give you
There's also the problem of memories
fading with time which makes it difficult to decide between
normal forgetfulness and a disease process. So here's a quick
test: Draw a clock face showing ten minutes to four. Any problem
with that? Here's one for the Tip of the Tongue phenomenon: What
falls from oak trees that squires gather? If it takes a
few seconds to come up with acorns, that's fine but if you get
sweaters, that may suggest some concern.
Can you improve your memory with certain
vitamins and supplements? There are a bunch on the market and it
would be nice to simply pop a pill but it's not that simple.
What you can do is try your best to focus when you need to
remember. You can also get information into different areas of
your brain by saying it, writing it, looking at it and don't
forget the string around your finger. Also, while a little
exercise will increase blood flow to the brain even a seemingly
slight knock on the head can do far more damage than you might
A good night's sleep is important to a
good memory. It seems we sort through the events of the day as
we dream and select some for storage in long term memory.
However, how quickly you can later recall whatever you stored
will vary with age. As a general rule, the older you get the
longer it takes. I know I have a hard time beating the
contestants on "Jeopardy!" but I usually get the final. It's
because they allow 30 seconds to think about it.
Look At It This Way
Your brain consumes approximately 20% of
all the energy your body produces. This makes it a very
expensive organ to maintain so it must serve a vital function.
And if you think about it, would you even be YOU if all your
memories suddenly vanished? Clearly you want to do all you can
to create a healthy body that will support a healthy brain. One
final thought-- never stop learning. Younger brains can work
faster but older brains can store more information. If you can't
think as much, maybe you can think better.