I must say that I watched with great relief a recent TED talk about memory. Neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova assured us that the reason we forget so many things is that we are not paying …
I must say that I watched with great relief a recent TED talk about memory. Neuroscientist and author Lisa Genova assured us that the reason we forget so many things is that we are not paying attention to them. That's why we can't remember why we walked into a room, or where we set down our phone, or the name of that actor in that movie we saw last week.
Perfectly normal, Genova assures us. When to worry? Well, she says, if you go shopping and come out and can't remember where you parked your car, it's not really worrying. However, if you drive somewhere to run an errand and then come back and don't recognize your car, that could be a bit of a concern.
Genova is the author of “Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting” as well as the acclaimed “Still Alice” which was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore as a Harvard professor who is slipping into Alzheimer's at the age of 50.
In her latest TED talk, she said that during the pandemic, with so many people living in constricted environments, many are questioning their thinking and are concerned that they may be getting Alzheimer's when they find themselves forgetting things.
So what can we do to avoid Alzheimer's? Genova offers four pieces of advice. Exercise is very important, as is sleep. We should aim for 7-9 hours of slumber each night. When we sleep, our brain is busy processing all the information we have encountered during the day and locking in experiences. Our brains are very active during sleep, which is why we sometimes find ourselves awakening with solutions to the problems that plagued us the previous day.
Genova also emphasizes the importance of learning new things. Keeping our brain working is vital. Doing crossword puzzles, she says, just has us retrieving words that we already know, not actually learning anything new. But it is in acquiring new information that our brain continues to grow. So take that online course, whether you're 25 or 75. Set a goal and learn something new, stretching that brain and growing.
And though she doesn't think that there is any magic supplement that can improve memory, she does advocate the Mediterranean diet filled with leafy greens, fatty fish, beans, olive oil, and colorful fruits and veggies as healthy food for the brain. I, for one, am thrilled that I am not losing it. I walk into rooms on forgotten missions all the time. And where did I leave my phone?
That's why they invented the app “Find my iPhone.” And that actor's name? Saturday Night Live did a sketch called “The Mom Translator” which enabled children to decode their mother's faulty recall of actors' names. For example, “Joe Geronimo” was actually “Jake Gyllenhaal.” Hey, I can relate.
So I'm going to have some salmon for dinner, sign up for another Udemy course, take the dogs for an extra-long walk, and go to bed early.
I may not know where my iPhone is, but I truly want to keep my brain as healthy as I can.
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