Memory slips loom larger as people grow older. Forgetting why you walked into a room, or what you were supposed to pick up at the store can provoke nagging anxiety — not to mention dark humor about impending decrepitude.
If your next search for the car keys sets off such thoughts, keep in mind two reassuring facts. First, some loss of memory is completely normal. Second, there’s a simple, enjoyable technique that can minimize age-related decline.
The specifics vary from person to person, but the idea is the same: Change things up.
“As adults approach retirement age, they come to…
The neighbors are noisy, your baby is teething, and you have a difficult meeting scheduled with your boss tomorrow. Falling and staying asleep is not easy. So it’s no surprise when you don’t feel your best in the morning.
Decades of scientific research performed in controlled laboratory settings have highlighted the damage caused by poor sleep. A lack of quality sleep can harm “neurocognitive performance as well as psychological and physical fitness, readiness, and health,” says Rachel Markwald and Anne Germain, editors of the journal Sleep Medicine Clinics.
This is a modified excerpt from Inside Your Head 🧠, a weekly newsletter exploring why your brain makes you think, feel, and act the way you do, written by me, Elemental’s senior writer and a former brain scientist. Subscribe here so you won’t miss the next one.
I have a pretty bad memory. It’s not prohibitive — I can remember grocery lists and practical day-to-day things no problem — but friends will occasionally reference conversations or events from years ago that I have little recollection of. I was reminded of my shortcoming recently when my mom, who’s in her seventies…
About one month went by until Mary realized she no longer had trouble remembering other people’s names. Jim says it only took three weeks for him to notice an improvement in his memory. Meanwhile, Sue experienced perhaps the most profound effects: She’s less absentminded, a better multitasker, and her recall of people’s names and faces has only gotten better. Her co-workers have noticed, too.
Folks like Mary, Jim, and Sue have been highlighted in commercials, radio spots, social media posts, and earnest-sounding infomercials produced by Quincy Bioscience, a Wisconsin-based supplement company. The television spots have aired on prominent cable networks…
Without realizing it, human beings misperceive, misremember, and make up memories. The reasons, which all existed in the “before times,” are only made worse by the many stresses of Covid-19 and the politicization, conspiracy theories, and fake news the pandemic has generated. One might falsely recall, for example, that Covid-19 is only dangerous for old people and that a good stiff drink will help keep it at bay. Of course, none of those things is true, but for some, they may be ingrained memories.
These mental flubs, which can contribute to ideological polarization among friends and family, also explain how…
Standing between us and the castle was a red knight with a sword. He appeared angry — inasmuch as a heavily pixelated figure can show emotion — and was headed in our direction. I turned to my daughter and suggested we take a different, less confrontational path. She nodded, and we hurried along the far side of a large lake.
This was the first time my young daughter and I had entered the 3D virtual world of Minecraft. …
I remember, when I was fourteen years old, spending a few weeks at my aunt’s house in Humboldt County, CA, where my evenings were consumed by hours spent chatting with friends on AOL Instant Messenger. Some of those friendships would go on to become meaningful, defining aspects of my time spent in high school, while others faded away, united by little more than time zones and a similar taste in music.
But there is one thing all these online conversations had in common: I remember almost none of them.
I have no idea what we talked about. I scarcely remember…
Blueberries are fascinating to scientists. In humans, the berries have been shown to lower blood pressure and help kids perform better on cognitive tests. In rats, there’s evidence the fruit improves working memory and helps the animals balance. It seems the simple berry has a lot to offer the brain.
Two recently published systematic reviews — summaries of already conducted research — support that theory. Both studies found that the overall scientific literature suggests that eating blueberries can improve overall cognitive performance and help elevate mood.
I’m standing under the porch of our old redbrick house on the outskirts of London, a rickety fence to the left propping up unwieldy roses, and in front of me, my nana crouched down with her hands resting on her knees, smiling encouragingly at me to walk toward her. She’s wearing a red cardigan and tan-rimmed glasses, her light-colored hair curly and neat. The lines on her freckled face are vivid, and they crinkle around her eyes as she beams up at me.
My memory lied to me.
This is one of my earliest and fondest childhood memories, from when…
Cramming for the exam, repeating someone’s name: Some experts say they’re not that effective at solidifying a memory.
Memories don’t just happen — they’re made. In the brain, the process involves converting working memory — things we’ve just learned — into long-term memories. Scientists have known for years that the noise of everyday life can interfere with the process of encoding information in the mind for later retrieval. Emerging evidence even suggests that forgetting isn’t a failure of memory, but rather the mind’s way of clearing clutter to focus on what’s important.