Do We Lose Memories Forever?
How many times has this happened to you? You are out with friends exchanging stories about your childhood when someone tells a story about you. For a second, you think they are playing a joke on you. “Did that really happen?” you ask yourself, pausing as you wish you could remember the memory on your own. “I don’t remember that!” If you’ve been here before, you are not the only one. Many people experience a loss of a memory without any explanation for it. If you’re too young to develop Alzheimer’s, and no substances were involved, you should have no problem accessing a memory. The fear is that these memories are lost forever, and science is catching up to see if that is really what’s going on.
Are memories lost forever, or are they inaccessible?
Dr. Anthony Komaroff, editor in chief of the Harvard Health Letter, explains that the brain stores memories in multiple cells within the brain that talk with each other. As to whether or not memories are lost forever, Dr. Komaroff says that was once the thought based on what the medical community knows about Alzheimer’s disease. The belief now is that memory loss is fitful and that your memories are not lost forever but in an area of the brain that is harder to access.
The study that revealed more about “lost” memories
Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, wondered where lost memories go. In 2009, they organized a study to find out whether it is possible to lose memories forever. In the study, 16 college students entered an fMRI machine after spending time remembering a list of words. An fMRI machine measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. Using this technology, the students used memory techniques to remember the list as best as possible. Some got as detailed as imagining how an artist would draw the word.
When reviewing the results, the researchers were able to see which students exhibited a strong conscious. Based on the fMRI images, they were able to see how the brain worked for those who made the extra effort to remember the words. Interestingly enough, those that did not use a strong conscious had similar signals. This conclusion could mean one of two things; the students lied about not being able to recall the words, or more likely, they weren’t able to access them. You can apply the same concept to the scenario where you cannot remember a memory from your childhood. Your brain knows it is there, but you can’t find where it is in the vast neuro network for some reason.
How to store memories
In a previous article, 5 Ways To Maximize Your Memory, we discussed practices you can implement in life to maximize your memory, especially when it comes to school work and your career. As for being better to recall childhood memories, there is no way to dive into your brain and seek them out. There are experiments in the works with mice to see if that is a possibility in the future to help those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. For now, become more sentimental by keeping a journal or blog and taking lots of photos. Lifehack’s article, 10 Ways Anyone Can Keep Their Precious Memories Forever, has creative ways to jog your brain’s memory for many years to come.
If you are the type of person who never wants to lose a memory, Iris Reading’s Maximizing Memory course can help. In this course will cover practical techniques to help you remember what you read and memorize key information. Click the link to learn more and signup today.