Tuesday, April 7, 2015

As We Get Older, Is Our Memory Fading?

Lots of folks complain that this is happening and they actually feel that it is deteriorating as the years add up. Is it really fading away or is there a more reasonable answer as to what is truly happening? I think (like my boss back in the 80’s told me) that it is just simply a function of all the data we get thrown at us on a daily basis and that the pea we have for a brain can only hold so much so less important information gets moved to less used areas or just plain flushed. I will share an exercise I use to help bring back some of those memories later in the article.

The most important way to improve your memory is to know where to find the information you are seeking and often that is a simple google search nowadays. You get instant access to lots of related information and you get to decide which one is correct for your search. In fact, one piece I found is that we get five times more information thrown at us on a daily basis as we did back in the day when my boss pointed out that the brain has a limited capacity.

In fact, the neuroscientists are kind of at odds about the capacity of the brain but we will use the concept that it can hold 2.5 petabytes (approx. 2500 terabytes) or about 500-1000 of the currently available external hard drives you can buy at your local electronics store or more likely, online now. So at the cost of about $50/terabyte that would mean you could have storage available in house for the cost of $125,000 plus taxes plus shipping of course. I found all of this pretty useless information via google just for those that think it might be important.

You can waste your time trying to figure out the overall size of that information pool if you like, but I think it would be wise just to go look for things you might really need on the Internet than trying to put your head around that concept. Some folks actually waste their time trying to figure out all these numbers. They need to spend more time swimming in a different kind of pool and drinking some tropical refreshments and enjoying all of the ambience present in that kind of an environment.

So the real point is that you get swamped with junk on a daily basis and you can’t possibly retain it all so get used to not remembering stuff. I sometimes play a game with myself to try to remember say the last name of a gal I met over 30 years ago in one of those tropical environments that I used to visit. I would start with just the knowledge of her first name and go through the alphabet and rule out the ones that didn’t fit and eventually her actual last name and spelling would pop out. (Usually this type of exercise takes place about 4 in the morning and I can’t get back to sleep until I get the answer.) Needless to say, this type of information is not likely to be found via google searches.

Another one I play is something like this; name the police show that starred Daniel J. Travanti and Veronica Hamel back in another time. Yeah I will play with the alphabet game thing for like 15 seconds and then start using google to find all the answers much more quickly. I think this is why older folks should not go on Jeopardy (yes the ones who are the same age as Alex). He is nowhere near as smart as the show makes him look to be. Next time you see him in public through 10 quick questions at him and do a quick “nahhhhh” for each wrong or no answer he gets. He isn’t that dumb really, it is more likely that he just suffers from so much information overload and that show spends lots of time making it even more confusing than necessary.

You aren’t losing your memory. It is being overloaded so learn how to flush what is not important right now and enjoy life.

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