Magens Bay --San Thomas

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The mystery behind our memory ...

Memories … Some memories stay with us for a long time and even we try so hard we can’t seem to get rid of them. Some painful … some sweet … some bitter … some lasting, whatever the memories might be, those are our unforgettable memories. But then there are memories that we can't seem to locate and some even went as far as being lost in never land..(They probably went looking for Peter Pan :-) )

Let’s take a look at what Princeton’s researchers have to say on this subject. The study claimed that when we bump into certain situations or certain things that remind us of something. We actually travel back in time to relive the experience and emotion. Our brains in fact generate the same thoughts and emotions or perhaps something similar, according to the dated December 27th 2005 by Vlad Tarko.

Have you ever wondered why? Why sometimes we could not even locate our keys, sometimes we walked in a room and a minute later we couldn’t seem to remember why we were there? Have you ever stood in a parking lot and wondered where you have parked your car? Do you think our memories will ever run off aka full? But then how do you explain the fact that we are collecting new memories each moment of our lives but yet we can’t seem to shed off those past memories of us?

Isn’t that strange? In some cases, we can’t forget but then in other cases, we seem to lose our memory.. Do you think perhaps some memories contain our emotions that are so deep that we can’t seem to forget?  

Ironically, those memories that seem to be lost find ways to return to us. Somehow, by repeating the same actions or encountering something that trigger the thoughts and emotions seem to trigger our long lost memory to resurface.  But then, in another cases, the memories seem to have lost for good reasons.

One day, I was about to take a vitamin and something distracted me and I didn't. Later on when I was trying to recall whether I took the vitamin or not, I couldn't. Somehow this action of taking vitamins was repeated quite often and when I was trying to recall it, the competing memories from the past were displayed back to me. I couldn't figure out whether my memory of taking a vitamin was from that day or previous days before.

Normally, I remember birthdays quite well, but several months ago I was under stress. Strangely about stress, somehow it had clouded my memories. I couldn't recall anyone's birthday at all. I simply have forgotten all of the birthdays in those months. I had experienced memories lapse apparently.

According to researchers that stress, competing memories and distraction could cause our memory lapse. Whatever the case is, we sure don’t want to go down the path where eventually we are hit by ‘Alzheimer, “progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory."

Let’s take a precaution in our journey, to prevent Alzheimer. Every step we take, let’s make sure we have plenty of sleep as studies show that sleep apnea seems to be proven to cause memory loss.  Have you ever noticed, when we don’t sleep enough (provided that everyone has their own definition of enough sleep, but our body should know,) we seem to be a bit slower in understanding new knowledge, we seem to stumble in our speech, we seem to be forgetful.  According NY Times dated June 11, 2008, the part of the brain that stores memories seems to shrink.

--courtesy of

Socializing is the key to the solution. Seems like by socializing, we are mentally engaged therefore it seems to spark our brain cell. “An active social life appears to delay memory loss as we age, a new study shows,” according to NY Times dated June 4, 2008.

Now what are we waiting for? Go out and party! I mean … Let’s walk hand-in-hand in this journey together as we are keeping ourselves company. Together we could delay the memory loss and build the healthy brain, so we could share our memorable moments with our next generation.

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

1 comment:

  1. The storage and retrieval of memories is a complex process, as these somewhat diversified studies reveal. From my understanding, the mechanisms for short and long-term memory are different, involve different areas of the brain, and different pathways.

    It's worth pointing out that "Alzheimer's disease," according to current research with which I am familiar, is far more than just a disease of loss of memory. The brain is subject to pathologies, deterioration, and shrinkage. The loss of short-term ("working") memory is most commonly cited because it is the most common early symptom. The hippocampus is an early casualty, showing atrophy which manifests itself as a loss of short-term memory and executive function (i.e., the ability to react to unplanned or unpredicted stimuli). Research is far from conclusive.

    All the other environmental factors (sleep, diet, stimulation) are protective, though it's not known precisely why.

    One thing that is in the current science is that memories and the ability to retrieve them quickly has to do with building connections with the neurons in the brain. Frequently done tasks or remembered items get re-inforced "pathways" - literally, links between and among themselves. This makes retrieval and manipulation much more facile.

    Think about a task you commonly do - drive your kids to work; make a cup of coffee. Recalling your telephone number.

    You may actually find that these tasks are done more or less automatically - you do not have to think about them. They are done SO frequently, they are inter-connected.

    It's not terribly different from how the roadways system works - the trip between San Jose and Palo Alto is done many, many times every day, and thus there are many wide, convenient alternatives (i.e., 280, 101, Central Expressway, Foothill Expressway etc.) Multiple alternatives. Heavy volume roads. A trip from Palo Alto to Half Moon Bay is much more involved, and if Highway 92 gets broken or jammed, there is no easy way over.

    The brain, in a sense, works much in the same way. Different "memories" are stored in different locations, and the more you recall/exercise them, the more "pathways" are built and enlarged. Memories that are very seldom used may even be "lost," as the brain preserves its energy and function by actually eliminating unused connections.

    This is also why certain stimuli can provoke memories - because they are established via inter-connections.

    Think about high school and a particular memory. When you hear a certain song from that era, or see a movie, you will often find that memory is provoked by a related stimulus.