6 amazing things to know about memory

Alzheimer’s disease is the second most feared disease after cancer. To take care of your memory – or rather your memories – here is what you need to know about them.

1. Memory needs to forget in order to remember

« Forgetting is a physiological process essential, which makes it possible to sort through the enormous flow of information processed by our brain every day and to eliminate irrelevant data (color of a colleague ‘s sweater, etc.), to store only the information. important, and thus not to saturate the neural circuits ”,explains Francis Eustache, researcher in neuropsychology.

“Forgetting is a corollary of the quality of the prioritization and organization of stored information”,underlines the National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm). The impossibility of forgetting details of the past even corresponds to a pathology – extremely rare -: hypermnesia, which gives exceptional memory, but also prevents memories from being organized according to their importance.

2. A memory is not a faithful copy of what has been experienced

Indeed, our memory does not work like a video camera. “The information it stores is slightly altered: each time we remember it, there is a risk of integrating a new element, erasing another, or extrapolating certain aspects, according to our team. emotional state or what we have lived since ”,enlightens Fabienne Collette, neuroscientist specializing in memory.

Also, several people who have experienced the same event may have slightly different memories. This malleability of memory also explains the phenomenon of false memories, which can be “implanted” in the minds of people who can be influenced (especially children) via suggestions, and which have led – among others in the United States – to tragic events. court cases, where people have – wrongly – accused relatives of incest, rape or worse.

3. It is normal to have trouble remembering people’s names.

And for good reason : “It is easier to acquire new information or to retrieve it in memory if it is richly linked to other data already in memory”,explains Serge Brédart, psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of Liège, Belgium. However, this is not the case with proper names: “They don’t describe the people they point to. For example, a person named “Legrand” could be small, another named “Boulanger” could be a doctor, and so on. In addition, they often do not have synonyms that could help us remember them, unlike many common names (eg “car” for “auto”). “

Ensuite, “The less a word is regularly used, the less easy it is to find later. However, on average, the frequency of use of proper names is lower than that of common names. “

4. We remember our pre-teen memories better than recent events.

This is mainly due to the fact that it is easier to remember events that we have had time to evoke on several occasions – which is the case with old memories. Indeed, “The more we remember a memory, the more we reactivate the neural circuits that underlie it, and the more it will be” consolidated “, that is to say, anchored in a lasting way in our memory”,develops Fabienne Colette.

But there is also the fact that one remembers more emotional events (positive or negative) – which is often the case with childhood memories – than ordinary facts: “Emotions can indeed facilitate memorization”, says Fabienne Collette. Note: memories of our early childhood are very rare, due to the phenomenon of “infantile amnesia” which erases them almost all from the age of 7, to allow the development of a more complex memory of memories.

5. Our different memory systems do not all age at the same rate

“The most sensitive to the effects of aging are episodic memory (of memories) which, as we age, begin to lose certain elements of the memory more quickly than before, such as its date; and working memory (specializing in the temporary storage of certain data: telephone numbers, etc.), which will simultaneously capture fewer elements “,explains Francis Eustache. On the other hand, “Semantic memory (of the meaning of words, of knowledge about the world, etc.) and procedural memory (of automatisms and know-how: riding a bicycle, playing an instrument, etc.) are much more resistant. “That’s why, once you’ve learned to ride a bike, it’s for life!

6. There are male / female differences in memory

Several studies have shown that men have better visuospatial working memory, able to retain information allowing orientation in space, such as routes; and women, a better memory of events (dates, wedding meals, etc.). That said, “These differences are modest and are only an average: they do not concern all women or all men”, underlines Michel Hansenne, researcher in the psychology of personality and individual differences, at the University of Liège, in Belgium. The first difference could be explained by the fact that the first men hunted and therefore used their visuospatial memory more than the women, who stayed at home. The second, by the female estrogen hormones which seem to be beneficial for the memory of events.

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Source: Topsante.com by www.topsante.com.

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