16 October 2007

Good memory, just short

Every day I speak to someone who thinks she/he is losing memory power. We forget dates, past events, names of books, movies, where we had dinner last Sunday. When my children were small, I was busy with many things. As soon as I was overly busy, I'd forget things like picking up the carpool (and my own children). Often, I lost my keys or forgot where I'd placed them. I still do all those things; luckily both of my kids grew up and drive their own cars. And I wonder, with the other people who are forgetful, where did my memory go?

The key, so it seems experts tell us today, is to forget unnecessary things in order to have the space to recall the important information. They explain is with this example:

"Using fMRI machines to monitor brain activity, the researchers showed that when volunteers searched for a fact they had committed to memory while being distracted by new but irrelevant information, their prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in decision making, was very busy. Once they recalled the information and were easily able to remember it when faced with continued distractions, prefrontal activity slowed considerably--meaning their brain had edited out the info clutter and was now free to do important things like make decisions."

One thing I have found that helps is to never commit anything to memory that you can look up. Frees up a lot of memory cells. So, when we meet next time and I've forgotten your name, don't be offended. I've simply downloaded that info in order to remember where I left my keys.

1 comment:

MP said...

HA! Good one!
I can tell you that Buddy Ebsen was poisoned by the Tin Man Paint during the filming of The Wizard of Oz.. but I keep forgetting to bring home stuff in the freezer here at work.
If I don't file away things like Wizard of Oz trivia I won't be invited to Trivia Nights anymore