The memory that governs most of the activities of the human being from childhood to the end of his life is one of the most important cognitive functions of the brain. Without memory we would have neither past nor present, and our fondest memories would never have existed, nor the bad ones we strive to forget ...
There is not strictly speaking a "memory center" but several brain sites specifically involved in the processing and storage of information to be stored and restored according to their characteristics. But these are extremely numerous and it is not one memory but memories that will process them.
3 main classes of memory have been identified, which are then subdivided into numerous categories:
- Sensory memory
- Short-term memory
- Long-term memory
Aging of the brain is responsible, apart from identified diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, for the loss of memory and brain degeneration. Memory seems to be very sensitive to the effects of age. In our brain, the information spread along the membranes of the nerve cell in the form of trains of nerve impulses.
The rate of influx is critical in the capacity to transmit information. This rate decreases generally from 10 to 30% after 50 years old. Sometimes, the rate is so slow that it leads to the loss of information, i.e., memory loss.
Memory is working 24 hours a day even when we are dreaming at night. The extraordinary "memory chip" that stores, processes and restores these billions of information and stimulation consists of the famous gray matter, sheltering a hundred billion neurons connected to each other and working non-stop!
My mind goes blank!
Accustomed to ask the impossible to our memory, it has yet some flaws. When it happens, we immediately think of Alzheimer's disease as we see the first signs of memory impairment. It is important not to overreact nor overlook it either, although these memory lapses or absences could affect our daily life.
- Who has ever been unable to remember his PIN code when paying or withdrawing money with its bank card?
- Who, after meeting someone cannot remember right after the name of this person?
- Have you ever forgotten your phone, documents or keys somewhere? or not to mention forgotten appointments, birthdays ?
Can we prevent our brain from ageing?
Brain ageing is complex. Age is one factor but there are others factors that may prevent our brain from ageing and the most important ones are:
- Healthy diet: appropriate nutritional intake may help protect neurons against age-related deterioration, or repair damaged neurons and improve cognitive functions. Many nutrients found in a varied and balanced diet and some plant extracts like turmeric can potentially reduce the risk of early memory loss later in life.
- Stress management: Stress is bad for the brain because it induces excessive production of cortisol. This hormone, when produced in excess, leads to a deterioration of brain function.
- Physical exercise brings important neurological benefits. It increases blood flow to the brain and promotes the growth of new brain cell branches.
Sleep quality, mental stimulation and having an active social life are also important factors.