close
Monday April 15, 2024

How does memory really work with age?

Our brain processes incalculable amounts of information throughout the day, and there’s simply no room for all of it to be stored

By Web Desk
February 12, 2024
Representational image of a brain. — Unsplash
Representational image of a brain. — Unsplash

The recent chatter about the mental capabilities of United States President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump has sparked a massive conversation about what memory mistakes mean about ageing and brain health, The Washington Post reported.

According to experts, memory lapses are an important part of memory.

Our brain processes incalculable amounts of information throughout the day, and there’s simply no room for all of it to be stored.

How do our memories work?

When we come across new information, our brains encode it with changes in neurons in the hippocampus, an important memory centre, as well as other areas. These groups of cells work together to hold onto the specific information of memory, creating a memory trace known as an engram.

A significant portion of this data is lost unless it is retained during memory consolidation, which frequently occurs as we sleep and strengthens our memories over time. When the event occurs, these neurons become active, and later when we recall the memory, they turn active again.

In contrast to a computer, our memories are not set in stone. A memory may alter every time we access and reconsolidate it. 

Sometimes, when we have conversations about memory or see news footage related to it, the mind can recombine these experiences and wrongly store them as memories.

How do memories change as we age?

The most evident effects of ageing on cognition are related to processing speed. It is evident that ageing brings about a variety of changes in cognition.

Stress, distraction, and weariness may all exacerbate memory recall, and older brains may be particularly vulnerable to these effects.

Elderly brains frequently have greater skill than younger brains at sifting through unnecessary information and drawing connections between events. 

"An older brain is a wiser brain. It has experience to draw on," says Earl Miller, professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.