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Thread: Memory. Forgetting stuff really a bad thing?

  1. #1 Memory. Forgetting stuff really a bad thing? 
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Children learn fast.
    Memory gets worse with age.

    Easy enough but I was wondering if "bad memory" is degeneration of the brain and loss of cells alone, or if it has to do with storage space. Im guessing the brain dont have infinite space. Can we think of bad memory as something positive and a defensive attribute rather that a bad thing? I mean the more you learn the more the brain has to store. But I'm thinking, what if the brain simply has to forget to make more room or to easen the strain on it?

    Thinking about it this way "bad memory" could be a good thing right? Meaning your brain throws away "useless" memories and knowledge to make space for new and better stuff`?

    Anyway - my question is: Is the cause of bad memory and forgetting stuff only due to cell-loss and degeneration/age - or does the brain purposely erase things to up performance and not cause the brain to suffer from to much info?

    Also a small thing I'm wondering about: Do people with good memory suffer on other mental abilities as a price for having good memory? Do people with bad memory benefit somewhere else due to it?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman Lander_Greys's Avatar
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    Anyway - my question is: Is the cause of bad memory and forgetting stuff only due to cell-loss and degeneration/age - or does the brain purposely erase things to up performance and not cause the brain to suffer from to much info?
    Probably both, the memories that define whats important to you wear out and then the brain starts saving space to continue it's original function.


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    deleted post; wrong thread.
    Last edited by Zwirko; February 23rd, 2012 at 08:29 PM.
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  5. #4  
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    And remember that older people who complain about forgetting stuff are overlooking one really obvious thing.

    The longer you live, the more places, ideas, people, books, events and every other kind of stuff you have encountered and might want to remember some time. The more there is, the more likely it is that you'll mislay some and lose others entirely.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    The Enchanter westwind's Avatar
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    Dear adelady. The ability to remain focussed, to keep the powers of concentration to the fore, would save a lot of the eggs that I keenly hard boil. I know that I have to stand by the eggs, but often I find myself in the backyard and then realising I left eggs on the stovetop. westwind.
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  7. #6  
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    Children learn fast.
    Memory gets worse with age.
    That's not really true and too general. It's probably true for short term memory, but pretty debatable for long term memory. The way we remember changes as well--older people having a vast store of memories and experiences to tap and link which can actually make them much better as memorizing concepts and words. I've been experiencing some of this as a returning middle aged college student--I'm learning very fast, mostly building on past knowledge from life and college 20 years ago, even as I've been able to apply it to completely different topics.
    "This study investigated the hypothesis that age differences in memory performance may be influenced by stereotype threat associated with negative cultural beliefs about the impact of aging on memory. Recall was examined in 48 young and 48 older adults under conditions varying in the degree of induced threat. Conditions that maximize threat resulted in lower performance in older adults relative to both younger adults and to older adults who did not experience threat. The degree to which threat affected older adults' performance increased along with the value that these individuals placed on their memory ability. Older adults' memory performance across experimental conditions was observed to covary with degree of activation of the negative aging stereotype, providing support for the hypothesized relationship between stereotype activation and performance. Finally, stereotype threat also influenced mnemonic strategy use, which in turn partially mediated the impact of threat on recall. These results emphasize the important role played by contextual factors in determining age differences in memory performance. "
    The Impact of Stereotype Threat on Age Differences in Memory Performance

    There are quite a few similar studies which show the differences in learning as we age. Our strategies change, but it's too general to say it decreases--that is until we truly become very aged.
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    Forum Freshman Lander_Greys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Children learn fast.
    Memory gets worse with age.
    That's not really true and too general. It's probably true for short term memory, but pretty debatable for long term memory.
    The quality of the cells would probably less stable then children at this point in your life, but it might not make much of a difference in noticable symptoms of memory destabilization. Thats all there is to this statement.
    I've never met a man who was more intelligent then I was. Then again, I've never met one who was as ignorant as me either.
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    If one were to look at a diagram of a young person's, as in 20's, central nervous system compared to an old as in 80's person's, it would be obvious that there is less far less nervous tissue in the latter. Whether this correlates to short term memory, I'm not sure. But as far as I know there definitely is degeneration of neural matter as age increases from adulthood.
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    Well... brain couldn't live forever and it need to die. It get brain disease (neuropathologies) or degenerate (and you'll get forgetful or became senile), and there's no meaning whatsoever to this except for wear & tear due to aging. It's kind of sad that it has no meaning, but... we could try to fix it...
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    Forum Freshman Lander_Greys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msafwan
    ...we could try to fix it. (brain)
    my thoughts exactly
    I've never met a man who was more intelligent then I was. Then again, I've never met one who was as ignorant as me either.
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  12. #11  
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    A trip to the grocery store. To a child it's a sequence of utterly fascinating and therefore memorable impressions. To an adult, maybe the sale price of grapefruit was remarkable; the rest may be logically reconstructed.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    I meant to comment on this earlier, but.......
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  14. #13  
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    I think there are multiple effects, not just one, working together that come with age that result in memory loss, and also there is a lifestyle that we need to take into consideration
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    Forum Junior TheDr.Spo's Avatar
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    From several studies that link exercise to memory improvement in the elderly, I would suggest that memory difficulty comes with old age in a combination of factors: Some generally global, such as declines in cell activity and regeneration, and some rather specific, such as declines in productions of certain chemicals that drive brain plasticity.

    More specifically concerning cell activity, studies show decline in mitochondrial reproduction in the elderly as opposed to younger people, which would affect brain function rather significantly when considering damage that one potentially could sustain from free radicals. Furthermore, elderly people show lower levels of activation or expression of every participant in mitochondrial reproduction. However, oxidative stress is produced from aerobic exercise, which activates PGC-1(alpha). PGC-1(alpha) is essentially a regulator for defense against oxidative agents. So, this, in turn, activates the production of NRF-1, which increases expression of TFAM, which increases replication of mitochondrial DNA. Based on the free radical theory of ageing, one would predict that exercise should improve the functioning of elderly adults who show decline in mitochondrial reproduction. In fact, that precise affect is observed. In terms of memory and memory deficits in ageing, I would speculate that aerobic exercise should show improvement in memory formation and retrieval since, after all, the brain is not excluded from the benefits observed.

    Since brain plasticity is one important mechanism for learning and forming memories, one may speculate that elderly seeing decline in mental capacities should exhibit lower production rates of such proteins. Again, this is true and exercise proves itself as a corrective measure for this issue in two ways. Resistance training produces improvement in elderly people by stimulating production of Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), and aerobic training produces improvement in elderly people by stimulating production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Both proteins are mediators for brain plasticity, which is essentially how long-term memories are formed, by making new and unique pathways. Thus, exercise can improve long-term memory in the elderly.

    Based on the very limited scope of what I've said in this post so far, I opine that the brain does not function as well as we age concerning memory because the entire body is not functioning as well, not functioning as efficiently, as it does in youthful years. Thus, an older person who is beginning to decline may experience difficulty forming long term memories, having to remember anything past a few minutes or so into the future. However, exercise stimulates the body and corrects some deficits that we normally see in the elderly, which are entirely chemical in cause, and nothing to do with "memory overload" or "memory erasure".

    On another note, I think that the brain does gradually forget long-term memories, but the brain isn't purposefully, figuratively saying "This memory must go so that I can make room for another." A memory is a unique series of interactions between neurons which has a wide variety of factors involved. One of the important aspects of a memory is that it has to be utilized in order to be strengthened. Thus, if it isn't ever used, the memory itself will weaken, possibly to the point where it can no longer be readily found. However, considering the number of unique pathways available to the brain, the brains capacity can be considered practically unlimited. Thus, it would seem as though memory retention among many possible memories is a natural selection process, "Survival of the strongest."
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  16. #15  
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    Based on the very limited scope of what I've said in this post so far, I opine that the brain does not function as well as we age concerning memory because the entire body is not functioning as well, not functioning as efficiently, as it does in youthful years.
    It needn't be the entire body, just the important bits. One thing that's been picked up in some nursing homes, thyroid.

    Loss of thyroid function can certainly affect brain function and memory generally. Just ask anyone who's recently been prescribed thyroxine for hypothyroidism. Suddenly , the brain 'fog' has lifted. In the nursing home experience, they found that some residents who'd been treated as dementing, were actually depressed. And they found that out only because someone thought to test thyroid function for some other reason. Thyroxine was prescribed, the apparent dementia subsided. Because hypothyroidism also leads to depression in most sufferers, and the muddled thinking and negative behaviour gets interpreted as dementia in elderly people.

    (Apparently some psychiatric facilities routinely test people who are admitted because they've attempted suicide. If thyroxine is prescribed as a result of the THS test showing hypothyroidism, very little other psychiatric therapy is required.)
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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