We all remember specific memories vividly, like our last day at school, but there are a few that we don’t know that much, like what we had in lunch two weeks ago. But why is it so? Why do we remember some things and not others? And why do they fade over time? This article is all about memories and what we can do to boost them. First, we need to learn how a memory is formed in the first place.
HOW IS A MEMORY FORMED AND STORED?
Memory formation in the womb begins around 20 weeks gestation.
No place in the brain serves as a memory bank. Instead, all the individual memories are scattered all around the brain. Numerous types are stored in several interrelated brain areas. The majority of existing evidence indicates that the hippocampus and temporal lobes are responsible for memory processes
Many brain cells in different regions interact to make a single memory. For example, the memory of any ones’ favorite food might involve some brain cells to collect how the food looked like while some other brain cells work on finding how it smells; the taste can also be remembered by specific cells.
When we experience something like writing something on a piece of paper, this experience is converted into an electrical impulse that zaps around the network of brain cells called neurons. The brain has around one billion neurons, each of which is connected several times, resulting in over one trillion connections. Neuronal cells join together in certain ways, known as synapses, and the process of remembering anything is just the brain activating these synapses. Brain cells work together to make the brain as efficient as possible. This is subsequently stored in short-term memory, which is available for seconds to minutes. It is then transferred into long-term memory via the hippocampus and eventually stored in various brain regions.
In reality, though memory is not a physical thing that can be found in the brain like a part, it’s an action.
Take an example of a sea wave; not one water molecule is a wave, but it’s a collective action of all the molecules to move in a specific direction to form it. In the same way, a memory is created when many brain cells fire in a particular pattern. And thus, these brain cells can fire in multiple unique patterns. One group of brain cells can encode numerous memories. This leads to an increase in the storage capacity of the brain.
These synaptic connections are thought to be slowing down with aging, but adult humans’ brains are not hard-wired in any way, shape, or form. Researchers have just lately discovered that, even in the adult brain, not only can existing synapses adapt to changing conditions, but new connections are continually generated and reshaped, according to their findings.
WHAT TYPES OF MEMORIES THERE ARE?
- Sensory Memory. Humans can recall sensory information after the stimuli have stopped. According to researchers that describe memory in terms of phases rather than categories, all other memories originate with the establishment of sensory memories. Typically, your sensory memory retains information for just a limited time frame. Sensory memory is classified into three types: iconic, which is acquired by sight; echoic, which is acquired through sound; and haptic, which is acquired through touch.
- Short-Term Memory. As the name indicates, is the ability to retain precise knowledge about something for a brief period of time after learning about it. The phrase “short-term memory” is sometimes used to refer to main or active memory. However, it is not as temporary as sensory memory, yet it is also not as long-lasting as long-term. According to research, short-term memories only persist for approximately 30 seconds on average.
- Long-Term Memory. Most of our memories are stored in our long-term. Long-term memory is any memory we can recall after 30 seconds. From remembering a pleasant face at your favorite coffee shop to essential details like a close friend’s birthday or your home location. There is no limit to how much and for how long our long-term memory can store information. It is further divided into two categories.
|Explicit memories||Implicit Memories|
FACTORS AFFECTING THE MEMORY
Why do some memories get lost? Age is one factor. There is no such thing as over the hill in terms of the human brain. Psychologists studying the natural aging process have discovered that, while certain components of memory and processing may alter as people age. Only 27% of those aged 75-84 and 20% of people aged 65-74 have some memory loss. It is to be kept in mind that age-related memory changes are not the same thing as dementia and should not be confused with it. To learn about what dementia is, read this article here.
- The brain’s volume peaks in the early 20s and then steadily diminishes. The brain begins to atrophy in the 40s when many people notice slight changes in their ability to recall new names or multitask.
- Neurons may shrink, reducing the number of connections between them. The aging brain loses blood flow and becomes less effective at recruiting diverse parts.
- Hormones and proteins involved in the protection and repair of brain cells, as well as the stimulation of neural development, also drop with age.
However, what is considered typical in terms of brain aging and recalling?
- Cognitive aging research has demonstrated that episodic memory begins to deteriorate around middle age. A person is unlikely to recall the first day of school but will recall the dinner date last week.
- One truly does become smarter as they age. Semantic memory increases with age, with older persons often outperforming younger participants.
- Normal aging has little effect on procedural memory, which is a good thing. After learning how to ride a bike or tie the shoes, it’s true that such skills are ingrained in the recalling forever.
- Recent studies have shown that working memory gets worse with age.
While concentration and memory act in conjunction, one does not imply the other. Concentration is the process of directing your mental faculties, or efforts, on a certain activity, subject, or issue. Memory is the capacity to recall facts, events, and people. Good concentration will enhance memory.
A part of the brain known as the amygdala improves memory through increasing attention and perception which also manages stress. Findings show that negative experiences boost the creation of memories about places and may act as a warning to avoid prospective risks. Additionally, confusion about novel concepts or situations has been demonstrated in research to motivate us to exert extra effort to learn, resulting in stronger comprehension and recall.
METHODS TO OPTIMIZE MEMORY IN LATER AGES
While this might be a widespread occurrence, having a weak memory can be irritating. Memory is similar to bodily strength in that you must “use it or lose it” to maintain it. It is true that the more you exercise your brain, the better you will be at processing and remembering information. Here are a few methods to improve and maintain memory and brain training as per researched data.
1. Maintain Healthy Body Weight. Healthy body weight is fundamental for overall well-being and is one of the most effective strategies to maintain your body and mind in fantastic condition. There are many studies published that prove the link between obesity and mental decline before time. It is interesting to note that it is confirmed by research that being overweight might create alterations in memory-associated genes in the brain, which can negatively impact the brain. Another study of 50 adults aged 18 to 35 indicated that having a higher BMI according to their weight and height ratio was related to considerably lower performance on recall and remembrance tests.
2. Meditate. Mindful meditation can do wonders with memories and can have various beneficial effects on your health. It has been shown to decrease pressure and discomfort, regulate blood pressure, and even enhance recall. Meditation has been also demonstrated to boost short-term memory in people of all ages. For example, one study found that Taiwanese college students who meditated had stronger brain functioning than those who did not. Meditation for 20 minutes each day, according to one study published in a cognitive publication, has been shown to improve memory and focus.
Daily meditation may significantly improve your performance at work! … Meditation helps us clear our brains and focus on the present moment, which results in a significant increase in productivity. Reduces the chance of depression. According to some studies, daily meditation may be able to help relieve depression symptoms or reduce one’s chance of developing depression.
3. Do Brain Training. As with muscles, the brain needs regular exercise to be healthy. Mental activities are just as critical to the grey matter as other aspects, and they can help the mind develop and expand, which may boost remembrance. A large study discovered that participants who engaged in at least 15 minutes of brain training exercises five days a week improved their mental function.
Furthermore, it has been proved that playing brain-training games can help lessen the risk of dementia in older persons. Some smaller tasks of brain training that can be done are testing a recall like your grocery list, doing crosswords or spelling games, and doing mathematics in your head (such as splitting the bill amongst several people at a restaurant..etc.).
4. Use All Senses. The more senses you utilize to learn anything, the more brain is engaged in memory retention. As per research, when you process a memory using numerous senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing), you boost your capacity for subsequent retrieval. Some activities like guessing the ingredients of a dish at a restaurant while smelling or even tasting can boost your recall.
5. Use Memory Tricks. When you’re having difficulty with daily memory, it’s beneficial to have a few techniques under your sleeve.
- Pay attention. You can’t recall something you never learned, and you can’t learn something you don’t pay attention to. It takes roughly 8 seconds of concentrated attention to memorize something. If you’re easily distracted, choose a quiet location.
- Use mnemonics. Mnemonics are any cues that assist us in remembering anything, often by associating the information to be remembered with a visual image, a phrase, or a word. Since the 1960s, mnemonics have been evaluated as a successful method. For example, Colors in the spectrum can be recalled as ROY G. BIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet). Make similar ones remember better.
- Chunk the information. Chunking divides a large list of numbers or other data into digestible parts. Remember a 10-digit phone number like follows: 555-867-5309 (as opposed to 5558675309).
- Recall the memory. If a memory has been strengthened over time, it is easier to remember. Each time we do, we go through the same pattern of brain activity and make the connection a little more strong. This “spaced rehearsal” is more effective than cramming for memory retention.
6. Socialize. By socializing with others, research has revealed that we can truly train our brains. Social motivation and interaction can aid in memory development and memory while also protecting the brain against neurodegenerative disorders. People who participate in meaningful activities with others live longer, feel better, and have a feeling of purpose. These activities appear to boost their health and cognitive performance, according to research.
According to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, older women with wider social networks had a 26% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s or Dementia than women with a small social network.
7. Sleeping Enough is Important. Sleep is essential for maintaining total brain function. Because it interferes with the mechanisms that the brain utilizes to generate memories, disrupting the body’s natural sleep cycle can result in cognitive deficits in certain people. One research looked at 40 youngsters aged 10 to 14. One set of kids was instructed in the evening, then tested the next morning. The second group was trained and tested on the same day, with no rest. Memory tests were 20% better for the group that slept between training and testing.
Studies have shown that your brain does a lot of work while you sleep. Try to go over things before you go to sleep, even if it’s just for a few minutes. See if it helps you remember them. Health experts suggest sleeping for 8-9 hours for proper brain functioning. How can you improve your sleep? Read this article for some tips.
8. Keep a Low Sugar Intake. Sugary meals including soda and other carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit-flavored or powdered drinks might initially taste wonderful and feel satisfying, but they may also play a role in the development of memory loss.
Sugar-laden diets have been linked to impaired memory and shrinking brain volume, particularly in the region of the brain that maintains short-term memory. For example, a study of almost 4,000 participants indicated that those who consumed more sugary drinks had reduced brain sizes and poor memories than those who consumed less sugar. Consuming sugary beverages in excess raises the chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. If we fulfill our sweet desire with fresh fruit rather than processed sweets, we can avoid these hazards. Some alternatives to sugary drinks include water, unsweetened iced tea, vegetable juice, and unsweetened dairy products.
9. Eat Dark Chocolate. Yes, eating dark chocolate sounds like a treat, but it may also help people remember things better. According to the findings of a 2011 study of 30 healthy adults, it was shown that those who consumed dark chocolate with 720 mg of cocoa flavonoids had improved memory compared to those who received white chocolate lacking cocoa flavonoids.
To maximize the health benefits of chocolate, choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao; the higher the percentage the better the chocolate with flavonoids, as the remaining percentage represents the sugar portion. That will help increase antioxidants like flavonoids. Learn more about how the antioxidants work on our body and help to age slower in this dedicated article.
10. Avoid High-Calorie Foods. Along with avoiding sources of excess sugar, lowering total calorie foods such as cakes, cereal, cookies, white rice, and white bread may also be beneficial in protecting the brain’s health. These carbohydrate groups often have a high glycemic index (GI). This means they are rapidly digested by your body, resulting in an increase in your blood sugar and insulin levels. This effect on memory may be linked to inflammation of the hippocampus, a brain region that regulates memory. According to the researchers, high-calorie diets might impair cognition and contribute to obesity. Adults who consumed ready-to-eat breakfast cereal on a daily basis exhibited diminished cognitive performance compared to those who had cereal infrequently.
One research looked at elderly people who ate more than 58% of their daily calories as carbs. They had nearly double the incidence of moderate cognitive impairment and dementia. So it’s recommended to avoid high carbs and better consumption of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains are examples of low-GI carbohydrates that are also healthy.
11. Boost up Caffeine. Memory strengthening may be facilitated by caffeine, which may be obtained from sources such as coffee or green tea. Caffeine consumption following a recall test improved participants’ brains’ long-term memory storage capacity, according to the authors of a 2014 research. Even those who consumed 200 mg of caffeine (about 1 to 2 cups of regular coffee) performed much better on 24-hour recall tests than those who did not.
12. Use Fish Oil Supplement. Numerous studies have demonstrated that taking fish and fish oil supplements may help enhance remembrance, particularly in the elderly. One study indicated that when 36 older persons with moderate cognitive impairment consumed concentrated fish oil supplements for 12 months, their short-term and working memory scores improved dramatically. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), taking up to 2,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day from supplements is safe.
Improving your capacity to learn and recall will take time, and you will not notice benefits immediately, but with a consistent commitment to a brain training regimen, you will see results. Put your newfound knowledge to use and become wiser than ever and Prime With Time!