Memory Glitches and Executive Functioning


MEMORY ISSUES:

AGING Executive Functions and Alphabet Disorders
(ADD/HD-EFD, TBI, ABI, OCD, ODD, ASD, PDA, PDD, MDD, MS, etc.)

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC
Reflections from the Memory Issues Series:
Forgetting/Remembering | When Memory Fails

BlankMemoryMEMORY: Movin’ it IN – Movin’ it OUT

With Alzheimer’s getting so much press these days (and with adequate mental healthcare for Americans unlikely for the next four years or more, since extremely short-sighted House Republicans are willing to vote in accord with the unconscionable desires of the billionaire in office) — most of us are likely to be more than a little fearful when our memory slips, even a bit.

Understanding how memory works can help us all calm down —
about at least that much.

As I mentioned in When Memory Fails – Part 2, the process of memory storage is an extremely important part of the memory equation — but if our brain’s librarian can’t find what we want when it comes time to USE the information, what good is it?

 

USB_memorystick 64x64

Human Memory vs. Computer Memory

It would be wonderful if human memory were at least as reliable as those “memory sticks” that allow us to sweep files we need to have with us onto a nifty portable device we can use anywhere we can find a device with a USB port.

Unfortunately, it isn’t.

But before we explore the process of moving information into long-term memory storage, our brains’ version of a “memory stick,” let’s take a look at the ways in which our “neuro-librarians” deliver what we’re looking for once it is stored there.

The “regurgitation” portion of the memory process is a factor of, essentially, three different processes:

  • recognition
  • recall, and
  • recall on demand

Let’s distinguish each of them before we go any further.

Remember that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

HOVER before clicking – often a box will appear to tell you what to expect

 

THREE Methods of Information Retrieval

Retrieval refers to the process of getting items out of your brain’s storage tanks and into your conscious awareness.

All forms of retrieval involve at least three distinct processes:

  1. The “sifting through” of all the memories you have stored in areas of the brain not immediately available in your conscious awareness.
  2. The recognition of the correct item when your brain’s “file clerk” locates it in your brain’s databanks.
  3. The movement of the information into working memory, where it can be used.

We rarely think about how amazing it is that our brain is able to do that practically immediately. We tend to take that ability for granted until we experience the dreaded state of CRS — those so-called “senior moments” when retrieval doesn’t work as expected and we Can’t Remember Stuff.

The distinction between the three ways our brains retrieve information is important background to any explanation of what’s going on with CRS.

Let’s Play FETCH!

Recall is what is people generally mean when they speak of “remembering.”  It is only one term used to describe the process of retrieval, however.

What this particular type of retrieval involves is your brain’s ability to search its storage tanks to locate a specific word, fact, event or concept:

  • whether you are able to do so immediately
  • whether the item seems to “pop into your mind” after the fact, or
  • whether it arrives unbidden (like that tune “you can’t get out of your head”)

The term ‘recall’ refers to the process of sifting through all the bits of data your brain has filed for long-term storage and, once your brain’s “file clerk” locates them, bringing the items to consciousness where they can be communicated or used in some other fashion.

The more regions in your brain a memory can connect,
the better its chances of finding it later.

A memory study published in the journal Neuron found that memories accompanied by strong connections between the hippocampus (important for your ability to combine information and its representation) and the left perirhinal cortex (important for object recognition and knowledge of facts) were more likely to be “remembered.”

However, memory’s bits and bites are stored in various parts of the brain and are put together anew, like pieces of a favorite puzzle, every single time they are retrieved.

That means that hardly anybody’s memory is 100% reliable.

“Our memories are constantly in a state of flux,” says Lila Davachi, PhD, director of the Learning and Memory Lab at New York University. “Even consolidated memories are still malleable once they are retrieved or reminded.”

Recall on Demand

forget_name-button

Recall on demand” is a subset of recall that refers specifically to the ability to access the information immediately — following a request for it.

Assuming your brain has stored the information into long-term memory to begin with, answering the question, “What is that tall man’s name?” is an example of the kind of retrieval that requires you to have immediate access and to be able to regurgitate it quickly.

It is still considered “recall on demand,” whether you have been asked the question by another or whether you ask it of yourself in an attempt to “remember” something.

What’s the difference?

The difference between recall and recall on demand is the added “spin” that the stress of the performance expectation adds to the task, and what that does to the brain.

ADD/EFDers (and others with Executive Functioning dysregulations and difficulties of all types) typically have trouble with recall on demand. As we age, recall on demand is one of the first places we begin to notice those so-called Senior Moments.

Names and Nouns

Think about people who claim that they “can’t remember names.”

The mind-blip happens frequently with people they have met only once or twice, even when they use all the memory tips touted by the gurus.

  • Even when they know a person well they sometimes (or often) experience an inability to retrieve his or her name when needed.
  • Their experience feels like a sudden block of some sort.

The same thing often happens with nouns of any sort, in fact. I call it the “hand me that doo-hickey on the thing-a-ma-bob” problem.

To the person on the spot, what seems to be going on is a sort of a temporary “amnesia” that can be amusing, yet is sometimes disturbing to an individual who doesn’t understand what’s going on.

  • They know that the information is “in there” somewhere, meaning that they know that they do – or did – have it in their memory banks.
  • Yet they also realize that, for some reason, it’s “right on the tip of their tongue” — but they can’t bring it to consciousness, no matter how hard they try.

The reason it seems to be unavailable at the moment is something well-known in the ADD/EFD community as “pre-frontal cortex shutdown in response to stress.”

Before we focus on that particular concept (in an upcoming memory article), I want to give you a bit more information about recall on demand and distinguish the last type of retrieval — the one that is practically universally reliable for all of us with healthy brains: recognition.

Executive Processing and Recall on Demand

The key to reliable “memories” is building connections.  As your brain weaves the memory anew from the details it has previously stored, the weaver is the Pre-Frontal Cortex [PFC], that part of your brain right behind your forehead that is considered the seat of what we call your Executive Functions.

“What’s interesting about the human brain is that we have multiple memory systems,” explains David Sweatt, PhD, chairman of the neurobiology department at University of Alabama Birmingham, who researches memory and its processes.

“It allows a lot of parallel processing, in terms of learning and remembering different kinds of actions and information . . . involving lots of complicated interactive circuits.”

Some of our memories feel almost like instincts, they were laid down so long ago and seem so basic.  Recognizing that a loud noise could be threatening or a that a juicy piece of watermelon would be a tasty snack is actually an unsophisticated memory that you’ve been refining since you were fairly tiny.

Over the last 30 years or so, researchers have learned that even many of the behaviors that we believe are innate are, in fact, learned.  The memory tracks were laid down as part of developing the nervous system, reconsolidated and strengthened every time we access them.

Every time you retrieve facts and remembered events for use, you’re tapping your storage tanks and refining those memories, further cementing their place in your brain.

Repetition is important
ask any teacher who sends her students home with assignments
to be completed before they return the following day.

Our ability to store moments in our lives, facts, or the ability to navigate reliably are the newest types of human memory systems, easily disrupted because of the sheer number of the interactive circuits required to consolidate all the details into a coherent event. That’s why they’re likely to be lost first with Alzheimer’s or amnesia.

What makes memories reliable?

The key to consolidating those memories is attention, which helps your brain form connections. It’s a process, however.

Recently absorbed information (like what your new neighbor looks like, or the date of your next doctor’s appointment) is first stored in short term memory.

It can burn away like fog in the morning if it’s not quickly moved along into working memory, which holds information long enough to write it down or use it before we lose it — which gives you approximately thirty minutes.

In order to move an experience from your working memory to the point of consolidation in a manner that it is likely to be reliably retrieved after that, you have to build connections outside the brain.  The more aspects of an experience that are tied into one memory, the stronger and more lasting the memory becomes.

Emotional valence lays down memory tracks that are practically indelible. If an event triggers a great deal of emotional response, wonderful or terrible, it will likely become unforgettable, withstanding the test of time and, possibly, dementia.  That’s the good news if you want to remember, but not so great if you are eager to forget something harrowing.

Related: Scientific American – Can We Learn How to Forget?

Training your brain to make more lasting memories

Practicing making multiple connections at the time is a good way to deepen any memory. If repeating a name several times in an initial conversation never worked very well for you, try attaching it to a prior memory.

When you first learn someone’s name, see if you can think of some other person with the same name, for example, even in a book you read as a child, or perhaps the name of a coworker you barely got to know.

Making an association between two women named Madelyn (or to the children’s books, or the cookie – or to Proust) would help you remember my name, for example, most likely for years to come if you used all three.

Even if you never make it a point to help your brain make solid memories, it will still attempt to figure out ways to determine which experiences, names, and moments are worth consolidating with connections that will help those memories become truly memorable – but it may not choose all the ones you wish it would unless you give it a boost.

A quickie about RECOGNITION

The most reliable type of retrieval for most of us is when we can pick something out of a line-up: multiple choice tests are a good example of this category.

You have to have the information in your memory banks somewhere to be able to recognize the answer, but it might not be linked strongly enough for you to come up with it without a prompt.

We’ll take a closer look at all forms of retrieval in memory articles to come, as well as an explanation for pre-frontal cortex shutdown. I will also reveal more keys to consolidating those memories – to nudging your brain to make the “decision to store” something into long-term memory.

We will also take a look at how to keep those memories from being “disrupted” during the retrieval process.  So stay tuned.

© 1994, 2013, 2017, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

Shared on the Senior Salon


As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Memory series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some one-on-one (couples or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series, click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end, or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page. Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)


You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
– and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves –

Related articles right here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com

Articles about ADD/EFD and Memory

Related Content ’round the ‘net

Science Rings In

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

78 Responses to Memory Glitches and Executive Functioning

  1. craig lock says:

    Reblogged this on Mindpower (The Amazing Power of the Human Mind) and commented:
    “’Normal’ is not the goal, because normal people are never ordinary.”

    from
    https://addandsomuchmore.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the reblog, Craig. Extraordinary is not “normal” either – and that’s the sweet spot!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • craig lock says:

        A pleasure, Madelyn. Keep up your “fascinating” work

        Regards c
        “early bird” watching Indy
        Best wishes from the First City to see the light

        PS Your quote reminded me (impulsively…as always) of “People don’t decide to be extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things.”
        from https://itsnotthemountainbutourselves.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/people-dont-decide-to-be-extraordinary-they-decide-to-accomplish-extraordinary-things/#comment-72

        Liked by 1 person

        • What a GREAT quote, Craig. An immediate favorite. My extraordinary thing right now is mainlining enough coffee to wake up! l0l
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  2. noelleg44 says:

    A great post, Madeline, and timely for me as I’ve noticed I have a few more memory blips in recent years. I do work on it though, with games and memory tools Not sure if it’s working. I like to play long with games like Jeopardy ion TV to see if I can beat the contestants. I usually get the answers but my response time is SLOW! Ah, so much fun, this aging thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lol – as they say, “Getting older ain’t for sissies!” Then again, there’s much we can do to remain [relatively] cognitively nimble – like what you’re doing.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  3. I sorely miss easy retrieval of names and nouns, Marilyn, oops, I mean Madelyn. Well, I was close. But it has made for some fun times with impromptu games of charades. LOL. You shed the scientific light on our brain’s processing of memories. I hope I can remember what I just read long enough to stay reassured.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL – I can’t miss what I never had.

      I play charades for brain prompts too. “Mime the verb” often activates the noun pathway, for example – (ex., scissors cut, so make cutting motions with your fingers while you are looking for them or trying to recall what they’re called).

      Concepts tend to stick better, if that helps at all.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  4. dgkaye says:

    Brilliant post my friend. Truly the brain is a most fascinating organ. Now I know where my CRS is coming from sometimes (can’t remember s#$t 🙂 xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Debby. CRS? Yeah – me too.

      JUST read a fascinating article from clinicalnews.org (study report) – link below:
      Cannabis reverses aging processes in the brain

      hmmmmmm …..
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye says:

        Lol, Let’s go! 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • More and more research on the benefits.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  5. daisymae2017 says:

    Interesting post on memory. The graphics were good too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Crystal – I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Several of your comments had been spammed, just to let you know why it has taken soooo long for me to approve and reply. I was quickly digging through over 500 in the past 2-1/2 weeks alone (which is why I rarely take the time to check before emptying the trash).

      ALL of the ones I just replied to were in the trash. I want you to know, because you may have to check with WordPress to see why you’re not getting through. It may be happening on other blogs as well.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

      • daisymae2017 says:

        I will check with WordPress Forum.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Great idea! And I’m sure their Blogging-101 community has something to say about it too.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • daisymae2017 says:

            Last time I use a poll.

            Liked by 1 person

            • 🙂

              Like

  6. Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks again, Kate, for choosing to share this post. I’ll say it again, you are the best!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Such an Interesting post Madelyn.. Both my in-laws suffered from Alzheimers.. So as a family I can totally understand the Impact that has upon the family.. And losing ones train of thought can be worrying

    As I get older my self.. My memory recall is not as sharp as it was.. But then I have no need to keep unwanted data…
    I find I retain that which I want to keep.. and if some one says some thing or its not important to me.. I do not need to save it.. That is how I look at it..
    Because its not needed..

    When I was younger within my job I had to know serial numbers of codes for trims, laces, and fabrics, hundreds of them in fact..

    Lots of interesting facts contained here Madelyn.. And I had the experience of forgetting a name only the other week.. A lady I had worked along side for seven years. . While I was talking to her it just would not come.. The moment I walked away.. it dropped straight into my head.. I think some times we try too hard in memory recall.. and the moment we relax, our cogs click into gear as we access the right data..

    Have a wonderful weekend… No cakes baked this weekend.. I am being good 😉
    Hugs and thank you again..
    Sue 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sue, for another great comment. Super contribution.

      Your experience is common (tho’ your attitude about it is uncommonly accepting) – the brain is actually “designed” NOT to remember everything. Think about all the input in an average day – from every single sense, every conversation, every thought. It “sorts” by priority usage to determine what to consolidate into long term storage – i.e., use it or lose it (almost immediately).

      With your permission, I will probably quote parts of your comment (attributed and linked, natch) when I do the PFC shutdown/stress article. You described perfectly what happens (i.e. trying too hard). I usually say, “Don’t chase it – it will run!”

      So I think you have earned another piece of cake (2, if you have one for me!)
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha… so glad I earn another piece of cake.. It got substituted today for desert of cheese cake after Sunday Lunch.. 🙂 Sadly not one I made.. but a bought one.. And yes of course you have permission to quote my words.. Many thanks , I feel honoured that you feel them worthy. 🙂 ❤ 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Even mediocre cheesecake is pretty darned good, IMHO.
          xx.
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  8. One of your wonderful informative posts – great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Dolly. I just got back from a long mid-week “weekend” so quickly polished up a draft I originally intended to edit further, just to make sure I had a Friday post — so I especially appreciate your comment.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t have time to write a long comment, but the post truly deserves praise!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I know about that online time thing – it has been in short supply for me for the past 3 weeks for a few reasons and I am doing my best to catch up in a number of arenas. I appreciate your coming back to tell me again that you enjoyed the post. Thank you, Dolly.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • My summer semester starts tomorrow, so time will shrink some more, but I always relish your articles.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you for saying so, Dolly. Today is chilly enough here I have on a flannel shirt for warmth as I type, so it was a shock to see that the *summer* semester was beginning.

              How wonderful to be teaching – I know you love it. I’ll be busier than usual as well, but we’ll stay in touch I’m sure.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • I hope you are productively and happily busy!
              Much love,
              D

              Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks, Dolly. I am looking at a couple of new avenues – seeking my next step – and there’s a lot of time-consuming research involved. Now is the time I must do it, however.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • I wish you the best of luck!

              Liked by 1 person

            • Thank you, Dolly. Much appreciated.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Madelyn. As a teacher, I always had a problem remembering names – but it also plagued me outside of the classroom too. I remember sitting at my desk while my class was busy working at theirs, and I’d study the seating plan and look up at their faces as I did so. It turns out that I was able to recall their names in my classroom, but if I saw them in the hallways… poof… gone! Very embarassing! Faces I never forgot. “Hey I know you… what’s your name?” This became my mantra.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m a tad “face-blind” so if I don’t know the person well (or through repeated exposure, like in a classroom), I won’t “know” I know them by their faces. Fortunately, cognitive exposure sticks like glue (comments made, conversations, etc.) – but not recalling names or recognizing “unfamiliar” faces have led to some initially awkward, now funny, situations.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • That reminds me of a funny story. Early in my career, I taught a young man and then saw him again at a social function about 30 years later. He had changed a lot! He had more gray in his hair than I did! I had no clue who he was! Once he introduced himself, could make the connection with my memory of his youthful face.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was approached from behind at a buffet line by a man I knew well many years ago – several entire seasons acting together in summer theatre, in fact. Half the company always lusted after him – male and female alike. Gorgeous!

          I recognized his voice immediately (more reliable memory for voices than the norm), but when I turned to face him, I saw that he had changed “type” completely (more like Orson Wells – body and face), so I NEVER would have recognized him otherwise. I probably would not have recalled even his name had he not spoken before I saw him, I was so disoriented by the change in his appearance. IMPOSSIBLE to reconcile with my youthful memories of his face. Same guy inside, however, and I was thrilled to catch up.

          My recent vacation companion Sammy and I, on the other hand, appear basically like anyone would have expected us to have aged (especially when I bother with make-up & hair) – simply older versions of our younger selves, faces and bodies included. We could have picked each other out of a crowd anywhere. Of course it helps that we are both tall – Sam especially so.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • Interesting that the memory trigger for you is the voice. That only works for me if a person’s voice is distinctive in some way. Yet, despite the differences, we all seem to have memory issues of some type.

            Liked by 1 person

            • You taught “live” (i.e., in a classroom) – most of mine was over a phone bridge, so I had YEARS of practice recognizing voices. But you are right about memory issues – we all have them of some type.
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

  10. Such a real topic Madelyn. You bring out so many incredible facts in ways that help us to understand. This is a piece we will read over and over because it has so much packed into it.

    Like

    • You guys are always so endorsing – and I SO appreciate it. The mechanics of memory have always fascinated me and, as you know, I love to share. ADD/EFDers have short-term memory deficits (and short term memory gets a tad kludgy for everyone as we age), so it has been a life-project to develop compensatory strategies, which inform most of my coaching technique. As I end most of my articles: more to come, so stay tuned. 🙂
      xx, mgh

      Like

      • We speak with truth Madelyn. You bring out points in all your articles that we know are researched with diligence. You have a way of framing things that generate thought and stimulate excitement in learning about things we may or may not be able to change but at least can better understand and come to grips with. What we all appreciate is you also share from a personal level which gives validity to what you write about. So please keep writing cuz we’re reading!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you. I am so touched by this comment I don’t know how to respond. I’m glowing!
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • Great, you have earned this and should bask in it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • ::blushing with pleasure and gratitude::
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

            • 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  11. mistermuse says:

    Montiagne had this take on the subject: “Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it.” But in this day and age, that sounds more like a definition of PTSD than a way to try to retain something in the memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed, and interesting you mention PTSD. As I check out the online comments and type replies I am listening to an interview about the efficacy of altered states of consciousness for PTSD relief – which “detaches” Pre-Frontal Cortex memory mixing (also happens in “flow” or ADD hyperfocus). Interesting, huh?

      LOVE the Montaigne quote. Somewhere in that brain of yours is a quotes library – you come up with some of the best!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks for this timely blog post. I’ve had trouble remembering people’s names for a while and there have been times when I almost forgot my Bank PIN but fortunately it came back quickly.

    I think I have selective memory because I can remember lyrics to songs and commercials from the 1960s and 1970s when I was a kid yet a person’s name will bypass my memory but not their face.

    I’ve worked as a museum security guard for nine years. For the first 8 years I worked days and somehow I was pretty much always able to recall where a certain specific painting, sculpture or artwork was located in the museum and trust me when I say the Main Bldg where I spent my first eight years is huge! After a while I was also able to recall almost word for word everything the docents said about an artist and his/her work. Often I had the opportunity to hear the curators give lectures and I was able to memorize most of the information and I am not an Art Major. My Major in College was English. I now work nights but I’m sure that if I returned to days at the Main bldg I’d still have total recall for most of the museum’s collection.

    Why am I able to memorize facts and anecdotes about artists and artworks but I can’t remember people’s names? Is is because I Love art? But I Love most of my friends and co-workers also? Does Selective Memory exist or am I just weird and crazy?

    Your thoughts on this topic are appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lol – you may indeed be crazy, but not where your thoughts on memory are concerned. 🙂

      Different areas of the brain involved in different types of memory. There is an area “specialized” for face recognition, for example. Lesions in that area mean that people can’t recognize faces at all. Quite the problem, actually, and seems to exist on a spectrum (i.e., possible to be a little bit face-blind, as I am, even tho’ my memory for connection is excellent). Your face recognition and memory is apparently excellent (and that area is perhaps larger or with a greater number of connections to the “interpretation” parts of the brain).

      “Selective memory” does indeed exist – tho’ it has an undeserved bad rep!

      Interest and attention ALWAYS yields better memory retention – as does repeated exposure (which you got plenty of in that gallery, btw).

      Names and nouns are essentially meaningless labels we attach for communication and anchoring, so not as novel or interesting (which the brain gloms onto faster and more reliably, btw).

      I’m sure that your familiarity with the paintings gave you “anchors” for the lectures, which made it all the easier for your “neuro-librarian” to pull up the memory of what was said.

      You are unusual in that you think about memory and ask yourself, “why this, not that” – but your “selective retention” experience is shared by MOST people.

      GREAT comment!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Madelyn!! Your answers are always on point. Loving your Blog more each day! ❤

        Still shame that I can remember names and histories of artists who have been dead for 500 years but forget the names of my co-workers!! LOL!! Oh well. Thank goodness we all wear Name ID cards!! 🙂 😀

        Now if I could just stop calling you Marilyn!! 😀 🙂 ❤

        Like

        • Apparently you have had to go through Marilyn to get to Madelyn – if there have been any oopses in that regard they sailed right past me. 🙂

          It’s not that you “forget” the names of your co-workers, as much as the reality that the bridges to the roads with the info are down temporarily – lol. Meanwhile, three cheers for name tags!!!

          Happens to ALL of us at times. I once went to introduce my ex-husband, MANY years ago now, and his name went right out of my head when I reached for it – mini stutter-step. (Now you KNOW I didn’t forget his name, right?) I was SO focused on not forgetting the name of the other person that I guess my brain’s librarian decided that was all that she needed to get for me. 🙂 🙂

          I am thrilled you are loving what I do here – really! Thank you so much for taking the time to say so.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

    • PS to longer comment: anything set to music sticks more easily – ditto rhymes, etc. – and, of course, the repetition factor comes into to play for jingles etc.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow!! So very true! I remember the words to cartoons, songs and commercials from 40 or 50 years ago!! I can still sing many of those theme songs by heart. My singing is off key but it is amazing. Memory is amazing. Over all I believe my memory to be good even with those “senior moments.” I think in my case I get really busy or overwhelmed and that’s what trigger forgetfulness, ie going from my bedroom to the kitchen and forgetting why I came downstairs in the first place!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I can do that simply standing up – before I have even moved to the next place. I had some impetus while focused on the computer (more coffee, most likely, potty breaks I remember – lol). Then I hit send, stand up and BLAM. Totally gone. 🙂

          Have you ever stood in front of an open refrigerator hoping you’ll recognize what you want, because you certainly don’t “remember” why you opened the door?

          Yep – many times for me! 🙂 Attention on what I’m cooking, not on the ingredient I went to fetch, so it didn’t get stored for retrieval. I can replay the process in my mind to recreate the need but I rarely do, hoping it will come back to me when I see it. lol
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yup! I’ve done the open refrigerator thing. My cat Sylvester is hoping I’ll put out something tasty for him to eat! LOL!! 🙂 😀 ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yeah, Tink gets excited too – sure that I’m looking for something for him. 🙂
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

      • I also found that I was able to remember enough of my High School Spanish in order to converse and assist the many Hispanic visitors that come to the museum. It was rusty but began to improve. Now that I work nights and I’m not speaking Spanish once again my linguistic skills are rusty. However many of my co-workers are Hispanic and I get them to help me practice when they are available. I must beef up my Spanish once I retire. I enjoy the language very much.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m like you in that regard. I love pulling out my own rusty High School Spanish and trying to communicate with a native speaker – surprised at how much comes back.

          I’ve always wanted to be multi-lingual – still grateful that I am fully conversant in English. lol.
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

  13. -Eugenia says:

    Reblogged this on BrewNSpew and commented:
    Sharing useful information from Madelyn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Truly appreciate your help spreading the word.

      Books and articles on memory and its mechanics will be seen more often as the huge Boomer population ages, since we can all do with a bit of info about how it works best – and how to compensate for glitches.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 2 people

      • -Eugenia says:

        🌷

        Liked by 1 person

  14. -Eugenia says:

    This is excellent, Madelyn, and so useful. Every now and then, I have a blond, senior or whatever moment but I do pretty well with remembering stuff – EXCEPT names. I think it is a lack of focus on my part.

    I know that association helps me retain. In fact, quite some time ago I took course in order to sit for my insurance exam. The method used to teach us was association, which it worked! I still remember some of it.

    Reblogging. 💐

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Eugenia — and I’m thrilled you will be reblogging.

      Part of our problem with names is that they go by so quickly, and we are expected to recall them on first introduction, before we have anything to link them to. We rarely get “prompts” or repeated exposure to these essentially meaningless sound combos, and our attention is immediately diverted to the content of the ensuing conversation. None of which makes for reliable storage or retrieval.

      Ask anybody to recall meeting the people they were immediately attracted to (i.e., possible partner material) – we got THOSE names on first grab! 🙂
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 2 people

      • -Eugenia says:

        🌷

        Liked by 1 person

  15. My mum has a bad case of Gold-fish brain……………otherwise referred to as short term memory problems. And I keep forgetting this when she keeps asking me the same questions. It’s painful. 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s tougher when the person with the problem isn’t aware of the need to take counter-measures – even though there simply isn’t time to do it for EVERY experience, fact, etc. and most people don’t want to know they’ve asked before (‘tho it would help retention to KNOW that, btw – like paying attention to a word you frequently misspell so you don’t have to keep looking it up!)

      Memory is another of those areas of the human experience that we tend to judge harshly, lumping all types together in a black and white fashion, equating memory with mind or self – to which none of us want to lose access. Oddly, rather than study it, most people decide to sort of ignore it and pray. 🙂

      Healthy brains can not only make new memories until death, but can learn to compensate for the areas that aren’t as facile or reliable as we age. Truly, it’s a matter of ATTENTION (and man-o-man have I had a lot of practice attempting to regulate that during my life.) 🙂

      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  16. Bernadette says:

    I have the name retrieval problem and I definitely can attest that the reason for the retrieval and remember problem is due to stress. I am basically a shy person and meeting me causes social anxiety which leads to forgetting names. It would be interesting to know how many introverts suffer from this problem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “PFC shutdown in response to stress” expands the meaning of stress beyond what we normally think of when we hear it. Life stress makes things more difficult, of course, but “brain-stress” is simply asking it to do useful work “on demand” – then we add an emotional spin to stutter steps which exacerbates the retrieval problem.

      I’m guessing practically ALL who experience social anxiety struggle with names since their attentional flashlight is pointing in the wrong direction to begin with. Check out my reply to dancingpalmtrees and Eugenia for more right now, but the comments to this post have me thinking an article about why names are tricky is in both our futures. lol 🙂
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 3 people

      • Bernadette says:

        I hope you had a wonderful vacation and I look forward to reading more about those impossible names. It is has been the bane of my existence.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I DID, thank you very much. I had no idea how much I needed it until I left.

          About those pesky names – 18pt. forehead tattoos! LOL
          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • Bernadette says:

            Now that would be truly helpful although a bit drastic. How about mandatory name tags.

            Liked by 1 person

            • lol – When my eyes were younger I truly loved sneaking a peak at name tags when names escaped me – but they’re not so useful now that my eyes are not as good as they were in my youth – not so subtle a glance, so I might as well ask again. 🙂
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

  17. A great article, Madelyn. Shared to my personal Facebook. I am pleased you are going to cover stress related memory glitches. When I am stressed I sometimes can’t remember my bank pin code and it can be frightfully embarrassing, especially, when you are trying to buy something in a shop. I hope you had a relaxing break.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Robbie – it was truly delightful. I didn’t realize how frazzled I had become until I was becalmed.

      Re: PFC shutdown in response to stress — I can hardly EVER recall my bankcard pin – most numbers slip through the holes in my steel sieve brain, in fact, so that’s not unusual. 🙂

      When it comes time to introduce people to each other, my brain practically always skips a beat or three too.

      HOWEVER, when I struggle with word-finding, that’s a clear result of PFC shutdown that I rarely experience otherwise!! Interesting experience that happens to ALL of us.

      Since I know you are eager for that one, I’ll work on it next. Thanks so much for sharing on FaceBook.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

And what do YOU think? I'm interested.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: