What happens to the brain as we age?

What does exactly happen to our brain, as we grow in age? To our benefit, the brain has the competence to generate neurons, even as we are getting old and infirm! However, with age, the normal time span of processing any electrical response by the brain gets extended. That is the reason why old people react later to a stimulus, than younger people. This has been based on observations made by Professor Walter R. Bixby of the University of Maryland and his fellow researchers."

Memory loss or just absentmindedness?

Car keys are not to be found, where did I keep the pen, sorry I have missed the appointment. Are these examples of memory loss or just being forgetful or absentminded? Do we read between the lines and find something seriously going wrong? Or is it just the fall out of the fast-changing modern times?

Memories are made of events of the past retained in our minds. Critics however do not believe in this simple theory. They say that memories are a collection of an individual’s personality, hopes, aspirations, beliefs, values and what the past has meant to him. That is why when one forgets bits and pieces of the past, it is acknowledged as being focused.
There are actually contradictory opinions on this issue. Is forgetfulness an outcome of memory loss or simply absentmindedness? Mostly people blame it on the latter but it is not always so.
Memory loss can affect almost any and everybody, irrespective of class, creed, sex and economic status. Professor Daniel Shacter of Harvard University identified 7 sins of memory, one of which is absentmindedness.
These types of forgetfulness occur when the person does not pay enough attention to his surroundings. Forgetting where he kept the pen  means he did not focus on the site where he kept it in the first place; therefore the brain did not register this information. It means that you have to deliberately tell the brain to remember where you kept the pen.

Absentmindedness also results when you are not focused even on the small cues and hints – like when to meet someone for lunch or when to take the medication. The doctor would have perhaps told the patient to have the medicine after dinner, but since the patient was not paying enough attention, he missed the vital clue “dinner”. Having a dessert could have otherwise given the hint that dinner is over, and its time for the medicine.
Critics of psychology call it a sin of omission of relevant information – when the elements between memory and special attention are broken. Too much of pre-occupation with something is also responsible for the person not be focused on things he ought to remember.

According to Dr. Shacter, "Usually when you are being absentminded, it's that your conscious processing is focused on something other than the task at hand; you are thinking about something else."

One of his famous examples is the story about YoYo Ma, the cellist, which according to Schacter is "a failure of attention at the time when memory retrieval is necessary." YoYo Ma boards taxi in New York City and places his $2.5 Million cello in the trunk.  Upon reaching his destination, he pays the driver, gets out, and walks away, without the $2.5 Million cello in the trunk.  
Another expert, currently with the St. Louis University School of Medicine, Geriatric Psychiatry Director, Dr. George T. Grossberg, shares the same views as Dr. Schacter.  He refers to people who live in a multitasking world. "Many people just have sensory overload, wherein they have too many things going on at once, making them more likely to be absentminded."  It takes the form of a natural   behavior developed through life changing processes.  Many tasks are erased from memory since they have to deal with many heavy schedules, all probably equally important and demanding on their memory power.  Absentmindedness is also a natural phenomenon with ageing and have to manage a heavy schedule with work and family commitments.

Grossberg believes that absentmindedness is completely different than memory loss. Here he refers to a lady patient, who was brought to him for treating severe forgetfulness. Her forgetfulness took such enormous proportion that her family was constantly receiving calls from restaurants, stores, coffee shops, in fact any and everywhere this lady had visited, that she has forgotten her wallet, bag or some important thing.

Cause for concern is when a person forgets even things of the immediate past. The person has the information stored, but has problem in recalling. The difference between an absentminded person and a person who has a memory loss problem is: the former may forget where he kept the car keys while the latter will not even remember that the car keys are missing and eventually forget what the keys were meant for, in the first place.

Lives of those individuals forget the smallest information change over a time very drastically. If it starts with forgetting day to day activities, ultimately it results in their loss of any analytical or planning skills. It further affects their speaking, writing and even understanding abilities. Contrary to people who are absentminded, they may forget small details in everyday life, but it never comes in their way to run an otherwise successful life. Therein is the difference between memory loss and absentmindedness.

Lasik Eye Surgery

Stop Smoking

Heart Care

Lowering your Cholesterol

Combat Cellulite

Improve Memory


Search our Site

Wanna share a health tip with us ?


Home © health-care-information.org. All rights reserved.

Diseases | Drugs | Injuries | Medical Tests | Home Remedies | Herbal Medicines

Health Care BLOG || Your Feedback & Suggestions


Disclaimer: Health-Care-Information.org is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional medical services. Any medical or other decisions should be made in consultation with your qualified health care provider. We will not be liable for any complications, injuries or other medical accidents arising from or in connection with the use of or reliance upon any information on this web site.