Memory, why do we lose it?

Since I was a child my interest was focus in how the mind works, how it stores information, pictures, places, faces and our precious memories. In my long journey as Naturopath and health educator in many places around the world I saw many people worry about their memory. Here is a piece of information that maybe can help us to understand this vital issue.

Memory storage apparently occurs generally throughout the brain substance, and not in a specific part of the brain, as does movement, sensory reception, visual interpretation, and other brain functions. Memory is damaged if a portion of the brain from any area is removed, even the “silent areas.” The total quantity of brain substance removed appears to be the important thing that damages the function of memory, rather than the actual location of the removed brain tissue, with some exceptions. 

The loss of memory is seen in persons that had a trauma in the temporal lobe, as a consequence of alcoholism, which produces neurodegenerative changes that we see in dementias like Alzheimer’s and others.

Types of Memory

There are three different types of memory: immediate recall, short-term memory, and long-term memory. The first two appear to be entirely electrical in nature, whereas, the third form, long-term memory, appears to be both electrical and chemical. Immediate recall is that function of the mind that allows one to remember a series of numbers just long enough to dial it on the telephone. Short-term memory assists one to remember which mailbox is his, which house he lives in, or what class he is taking at a certain period of the day. After twenty years, one may not even remember that the class was taken, much less the period of the day in which it was taken, the instructor, the building, and the room number. Long-term memory, on the other hand, is the prolonged storage of important concepts, attitudes, and events. While one may not remember taking a history course, one can very well remember that Napoleon met his “Waterloo” under certain circumstances having to do with the British armed forces. 

Apparently, long-term memory is stored permanently in a chemical fashion in the brain during dream time. We have various types of sleep, from “light” through “rapid-eye movement” (REM) to “deep” sleep. When one is in the type of sleep that we recognize as dream time, sleep researchers believe that memory is being chemically manufactured, events are being related to things already in the mind, and matters are being collated, sorted, arranged chronologically in the memory, and settled into permanent positions in the brain. 

What can interfere with the formation of memory?

There are many things that can interfere with the settling of new material into the brain. Anything that shortens or reduces the quality of dream time can interfere with the formation of memory. Several drugs alter the quality of dreaming. Examples are caffeine and sedatives; those classified pharmacologically as either stimulants or depressants; and any drug that alters the biochemistry of the forebrain, such as tranquillizers or aspirin.

Anything that shortens or reduces the quality of dream time can interfere with the formation of memory”

A bedtime snack may interfere with dream time because of the large drain on electrical energy made by digestion, whereas, at the same time, a large outlay of electrical energy is needed by the brain to accomplish housecleaning, sorting, collating, and programming in the brain. A heavy evening meal can do the same thing. Long periods of noise, distractions, television, worry, or intense feeling can interfere with the quality of dream time. 

Shocks of any kind including electrical, chemical, emotional, or physical can either prevent the settling in of new material or unseat old material that one thought was securely fastened in the brain. Electrical shocks include electro-shock therapy used in psychiatry and lesser electrical shocks in the household. Chemical shocks include daily swings in blood sugar, licit and illicit drug use, the level of various blood hormones, the presence of end-products from intestinal fermentation, and other injurious chemical conditions of the blood. Examples of emotional shock are the death of a loved one, divorce, disgrace, etc. Poor health that alters the quality of dreaming will interfere with memory storage and can include fevers or infections, prolonged loss of sleep, accidents, and pain. 

“A healthy lifestyle matters”

Learn about cleansing, natural hygiene and a healthy lifestyle as part of your journey to be healthy and avoid many health problems, including the loss of memory.

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Walter Hendelman at all. The Integrated Nervous System, A Systematic Diagnostic Approach. CRC Press. 2010.

J.K. Aronson. Meyler´s Side Effects of Psychiatric Drugs. Elsevier. United Kingdom. 2009.

Meir Kryger. Atlas of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Saunders Elsevier. Philadelphia, PA. 2010.

PubMed. “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), affect normal sleep patterns in humans” – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/8047572/

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