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Fri Feb 11, 2022, 02:25 PM

Older adults can blame 'clutter' for difficulties with memory

There’s a paradox in memory science: Empirical evidence and life experience both suggest older adults have more knowledge of the world. However, in laboratory settings, they generally perform worse on memory tests than younger adults. What can explain the disparity?

The answer might be “clutter,” according to a review of memory studies published Friday in the journal Trends in Cognitive Science.

Tarek Amer is a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia and Harvard Universities and the review’s first author. While some scientists think that as adults grow older, they begin to form “impoverished memories” — memories that contain less information relative to the memories of younger people — Amer and his colleagues have a different view. Instead, “older adults might actually be forming too many associations between information,” Amer said.

Compared to young adults, healthy older adults (defined in the paper as 60 to 85 years old) process and store too much information, most likely because of greater difficulty suppressing irrelevant information, the analysis found. This difficulty is described as “reduced cognitive control” and can explain the cluttered nature of older adults’ memory representations.

“It’s not that older adults don’t have enough space to store information,” Amer said. “There’s just too much information that’s interfering with whatever they’re trying to remember.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/memory-issues-older-people-result-clutter-rcna15133
_________________________________________________________________________________
I knew I was right when I joked with my kids that "the chips were getting full"!

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Reply Older adults can blame 'clutter' for difficulties with memory (Original post)
Jilly_in_VA Feb 2022 OP
panader0 Feb 2022 #1
BComplex Feb 2022 #3
Thomas Hurt Feb 2022 #2
LoisB Feb 2022 #4
Hekate Feb 2022 #5
KG Feb 2022 #6
PatSeg Feb 2022 #7
Paper Roses Feb 2022 #9
PatSeg Feb 2022 #32
Yanicosco Feb 2022 #8
Ilsa Feb 2022 #58
doc03 Feb 2022 #10
TeamProg Feb 2022 #39
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2022 #62
TeamProg Feb 2022 #64
bucolic_frolic Feb 2022 #11
wryter2000 Feb 2022 #12
Native Feb 2022 #15
murielm99 Feb 2022 #24
wryter2000 Feb 2022 #46
Traildogbob Feb 2022 #13
Delmette2.0 Feb 2022 #38
Traildogbob Feb 2022 #49
Delmette2.0 Feb 2022 #50
Farmer-Rick Feb 2022 #42
JohnnyRingo Feb 2022 #43
Native Feb 2022 #14
kimbutgar Feb 2022 #16
2naSalit Feb 2022 #17
FakeNoose Feb 2022 #18
highplainsdem Feb 2022 #19
Vinca Feb 2022 #20
llmart Feb 2022 #53
Vinca Feb 2022 #56
llmart Feb 2022 #57
OldBaldy1701E Feb 2022 #21
mtngirl47 Feb 2022 #27
liberalla Feb 2022 #22
nuxvomica Feb 2022 #23
usaf-vet Feb 2022 #25
Javaman Feb 2022 #26
JohnnyRingo Feb 2022 #45
DownriverDem Feb 2022 #28
Marthe48 Feb 2022 #29
CaptainTruth Feb 2022 #30
uponit7771 Feb 2022 #31
wendyb-NC Feb 2022 #33
Ligyron Feb 2022 #34
bif Feb 2022 #35
TeamProg Feb 2022 #37
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2022 #59
TeamProg Feb 2022 #36
Demovictory9 Feb 2022 #40
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2022 #60
JohnnyRingo Feb 2022 #41
slightlv Feb 2022 #44
Farmer-Rick Feb 2022 #47
ananda Feb 2022 #48
hippywife Feb 2022 #51
Bernardo de La Paz Feb 2022 #61
hippywife Feb 2022 #63
Irish_Dem Feb 2022 #52
llmart Feb 2022 #54
burrowowl Feb 2022 #55
tavernier Feb 2022 #65

Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 02:32 PM

1. I agree with this.

When you are young, your brain is agile and absorbs info rapidly. So much so that by the time you
get old, you have many times more info stored than you did when you were young. I think that
naturally, your brain assorts that info by relative importance. My memory at 71 has some flaws
but it seems that I can remember everything necessary. Some memories you want to forget.

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Response to panader0 (Reply #1)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 02:42 PM

3. I totally agree. Just the sheer number of peoples' names and personal info they've shared ....

increases exponentially, seems like, through life. Add that to all the other information... history, past and being made in the present, life's lessons personal to one's vocation or avocation, new words learned, both in one's native tongue and foreign...a lot of shit keeps coming at you, and after 60, 70 or 80 years of it, yeah, you're going to sometimes forget your words!

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 02:42 PM

2. I made a comment to my sister a few days ago that "I had too many years in my head"

and it had pushed a memory of something that had happened 7 years ago out.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 02:46 PM

4. Totally agree.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 02:48 PM

5. Interesting! -- now where did I put my coffee cup down?

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:03 PM

6. my story / sticking to it

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:28 PM

7. I've told my children the same thing

"It's not that I forgot, but I am experiencing memory overload and I have a lot more memories to store than you do!"

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Response to PatSeg (Reply #7)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:31 PM

9. Thanks, that is just what I'm going to tell my kids when the give me "that look"

What a nice phrase, Memory Overload.

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Response to Paper Roses (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:55 PM

32. And so much of what we were storing

over the years were things regarding them. "Mom, I can't find my keys." "On the counter next to the phone." All part of being a mom.

I knew they were growing up when one day I realized I didn't know where something was. They were shocked and I knew we were in a new phase!

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:30 PM

8. I think a good drunk will clear the cache n/t

 

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Response to Yanicosco (Reply #8)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 10:37 AM

58. I'll have to try that on my MIL! 😄

Strong with her is the dementia!

I just wish she'd stop dragging clothes out to re-fold, etc, and concentrate on geting to the bathroom in time.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:32 PM

10. When we get old we have so much knowledge

our hard drive crashes. It has to down load stuff to make more room for new stuff. That's my excuse. I can remember stuff my first grade teacher said but spent a half hour hunting for the sponge I got out to wash the car yesterday. I had gone upstairs for something and put the sponge on the kitchen table then went back downstairs and couldn't find it in the basement.

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Response to doc03 (Reply #10)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:14 PM

39. Then it's time to DEFRAG by using Transcendental Meditation - it WORKS ! n/t

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Response to TeamProg (Reply #39)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 10:50 AM

62. Meditation, yes. TM? Nutz. Symptom: bombing one thread with multiple posts pushing TM. . . nt

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #62)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 11:08 AM

64. I was trying to be helpful. I can't expect all readers to view every response to a thread and

if you noticed, I only suggested 'de-fragging' with TM to those who wrote of the brain/memory = RAM / circuitry concept. Did you notice that?

That's a concept which I also find intriguing.

Thank you for teaching me about "bombing a thread", I had no idea of the concept or how it feels to be bombed by someone until now.


TM is the only kind of meditation that I've practiced so I'm not about to recommend something else that I know nothing about.


Enjoy your day!

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:34 PM

11. Downsizing helps

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:34 PM

12. I know when I block on something

There's usually something else blocking the correct answer. Say, I want to remember someone named Paul, often when I try to think of his name, something else...like Peter...will come to me over and over. When I can finally get past Peter, I have a chance of remembering Paul.

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Response to wryter2000 (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:43 PM

15. Exactly! Give me a multiple choice trivia test and I'll blow it out of the water...

My file cabinet is so stuffed, I can barely get the drawer shut much less access a file, but if someone pointed the file out for me, I'd be able to tell you what's in it.

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Response to wryter2000 (Reply #12)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:17 PM

24. I am glad you have hook to hang things on

to help you remember. The thing I forget is names. They can be famous names. Unfortunately, they are sometimes the names of friends and acquaintances. Otherwise, my memory, at 73, is good.

Uhhh....now why did I come out here? I know there was a reason. It will come to me.

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Response to murielm99 (Reply #24)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:41 PM

46. On the other hand

When I lose things, it's generally that I wasn't paying attention when I put it down. I try now to take concrete notice of where I'm putting things. I'm also only allow myself to put my glasses down in three specific places. I haven't lost my glasses in years.

Man, do I sound old.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:35 PM

13. I disagree

By this logic, Donald trump would have the sharpest mind even among teenagers. His head is empty. Should be lots of room to remember, man, women, camera, Baron's name and age,

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Response to Traildogbob (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:14 PM

38. Nah, 45 is just trying to sort through all his lies.

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Response to Delmette2.0 (Reply #38)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 06:13 PM

49. Well that's a task.

About as hard as sorting through his feces to put top secret docs back together. Basically both are impossible.

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Response to Traildogbob (Reply #49)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 06:16 PM

50. LOL

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Response to Traildogbob (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:30 PM

42. Some people just start out dumber

So, they don't collect much clutter because they don't think they need to remember it.

Trump couldn't remember that disenfectant can kill you if drank or injected into your body even when he was 25. He just didn't care to remember that.

And did he ever know any 5 syllable words? His vocabulary has always been stunted and child like.

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Response to Traildogbob (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:33 PM

43. He clutters up by trying to keep his lies straight.

Imagine the cells required for that task.
It doesn't leave a lot of room for Tim Apple and Infrastructure Week.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:38 PM

14. I've been saying this for years! It's the only thing that makes sense!!!!

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:43 PM

16. I usually say that as I get older I have many file cabinets in my brain

As I get older it takes a little time to get that file cabinet to open.

That said I work with seniors as a senior move manager and those who have dementia have more cluttered homes. I help them downside their items when they more to assisted living places. A lady I moved into a senior community had so many clothes that she would never wear again. She refused to part with them. I told her I’d come back again one day and we would go though her clothes. My manager who packed her up said she was so stubborn she gave up and moved all the clothes. Men are must easier to downsize and more willing to get rid of stuff though.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:44 PM

17. As in...

My brain is full, can I go now?

I decided, while going to college after 30, meant that I had to let some stuff fall out of my brain to make room for all the new stuff I was learning.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:50 PM

18. I'm 70 and I still have a good memory, but it takes me a little longer

I used to be so great at trivia-type games like Jeopardy, and the like. I usually knew the answer or else I had a good guess. But nowadays, I don't have the quick recall that I used to have ... even though I KNOW I know the answer. It's frustrating. I tend to play games where speed/quickness isn't an issue, just strategy and intelligence. I still do well at those games.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:53 PM

19. That article also says older people do better in terms of creativity and decision making:

https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/memory-issues-older-people-result-clutter-rcna15133


Meanwhile, memory cluttering isn’t entirely bad. While “cluttered” is the favored phrase in the paper, its authors write that the word could be substituted for “enriched” or “elaborated.” While the clutter of irrelevant information can make it more difficult to remember a specific detail, excessive knowledge can also help an individual in certain situations — such as when there’s a need to be creative, make a decision, or learn something new. These moments benefit from comprehensive knowledge.

In turn, it’s possible that the paradox of why older adults perform worse on most memory tests despite having more knowledge can be explained by something else: the tests themselves.

“There’s this prevalent idea in the literature that, as we age, we tend to perform worse on memory tests, which is true, but it’s also a result of the types of tests that we tend to use in the lab,” Amer said. “Those usually require a narrow focus of attention on one piece of information: You have to focus on the information, remember it, and then remember it again later on. Those are the types of tests that older adults don’t perform well on.”

But they perform better than younger adults on different types of tests — those that focus more on creativity and decision-making. This suggests the relationship between aging and performance should be viewed with more nuance, he said. Cognitive ability isn’t necessarily declining with age; it depends on the context.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:53 PM

20. Sounds like something to remember if I ever need a handy excuse for forgetting something.

One of the few benefits of old age, to me, is the opportunity to play "the old lady card" when it's to my advantage. "I'm sorry I was speeding, officer, but I was trying to remember if I picked up the buttermilk for biscuits tonight. The grandkids love my biscuits." Vinca, as many are well aware, has no children.

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Response to Vinca (Reply #20)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 08:05 PM

53. OMG!

I thought I was the only one who used that term "old lady card". My son cracks up when I'm driving with him in the car and I'm going along with normal traffic and then all of a sudden I slow way down and drive veerrryy slooowww. When this happened my son made a comment about it and I told him that when I get a tailgater, I pull out the "old lady card" and pretend I'm going slow because I'm old and not because I want to piss the tailgater off.

I'm extremely fit and trim and haven't lost any of my marbles yet, which is why he wondered what I was doing.

I also have a tendency to speed a bit and I just tell myself that my syrupy sweet explanation and grey hair will help if I get pulled over for speeding. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm ready!

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Response to llmart (Reply #53)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 07:53 AM

56. LOL - I got stopped once when I was a mere child of 61 (12 years ago) for going about 15

miles over the speed limit. I had just started driving after a hip replacement and had a cane next to me in the front of the car, along with a pile of mail I had just retrieved from the post office. I played my card to the hilt and nearly managed to produce tears about "the bill from the orthopedic surgeon" that had me distracted for a minute. The nice young man felt bad for stopping me by the time I was done. Now that I think about it, that might have been my first play of the "old lady card."

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Response to Vinca (Reply #56)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 10:23 AM

57. Great story!

I can just picture it.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 03:54 PM

21. My memory is still pretty good

Despite my constant attempts to wipe it out with cannabis. I still remember way more than I want to!

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Response to OldBaldy1701E (Reply #21)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:38 PM

27. +1 😎

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:02 PM

22. I like this theory!

Bookmarking

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:16 PM

23. I have another word for it: "perspective"

I work with a lot of younger people who are quick at learning something new but are often at a loss when challenges arise while older folks can recognize that the challenges are similar to ones they've encountered before and the right decision, even in a new context, is often obvious to them. The energy generated when younger folks with their fast synapses combine with older folks and their deep histories can be quite remarkable. But it takes both groups to appreciate each other's strengths and give up their egos a little.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:28 PM

25. The younger people I know DON'T store unnecessary info because the complete info is a Goggle away.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:30 PM

26. We need a way to better organize our memories

And a way to store them on a back up drive lol

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Response to Javaman (Reply #26)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:35 PM

45. I use folders.

I left and right click by blinking. I sneeze to delete.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:39 PM

28. When young &

hearing something I thought was important I would tell myself "I've got to remember this".

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:44 PM

29. I wait for the Rolodex to spin around

to whatever I was trying to think of

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:53 PM

30. I generally take the same approach as Einstein...

He said “I never commit to memory anything that can easily be looked up in a book.”

There are exceptions, of course, like the building codes I need to know for my business, but I still carry code books with me so I can look up things I'm not sure of.

It sometimes bewilders my lovely wife because we can watch a few seasons of a show on Netflix & I still don't know the characters' names, or the names of the actors. My philosophy is, why should I clog my brain with unnecessary details like the names of characters in a fictional TV show? It doesn't provide any real benefit to me, & it leaves more "brain space" available for more important things I DO want to remember.

Thankfully, I still have my photographic memory for things I want to commit to memory. That got me through my engineering & math & physics classes in college & post-grad. When taking tests I could visualize the page in the textbook with the formula I needed to do a calculation & read it off the page. That was also VERY handy in my former corporate life, when I met literally thousands of customers around the world. I could associate my mental picture of the person with my mental picture of their business card. It was like I didn't just remember their name, but I could retrieve the stored image of their card & mentally read their name, title, etc off of it.

Human memory works in amazing ways, as I learned years ago after suffering a concussion, losing 2 weeks of memory, & going through a boatload of cognitive testing. But that's another story...

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:54 PM

31. K&R, The human brain does textbook full table scans of memory pretty fast but pretty expensive ...

... relative to an index scan.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 04:56 PM

33. Very interesting

I can definitely see how that works.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:06 PM

34. Now hold on just a minute.

Uhh, nevermind, forgot what I was going to say...

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:10 PM

35. I've ofter joked that my RAM was full

When I couldn't remember something.

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Response to bif (Reply #35)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:12 PM

37. Then it's time to DEFRAG by using Transcendental Meditation - it WORKS ! n/t

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Response to TeamProg (Reply #37)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 10:46 AM

59. Meditation, yes. TM? Nutz. . . . nt

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:12 PM

36. Then it's time to DEFRAG by using Transcendental Meditation - it WORKS !

20 minutes in the morning, sometimes 20 early afternoon.

Let all those waste of space, garbage, anxious thoughts out, baby !



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Response to TeamProg (Reply #36)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:26 PM

40. Good suhgestion

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Response to TeamProg (Reply #36)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 10:47 AM

60. Meditation, yes. TM? Nutz. . . . nt

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:28 PM

41. You scared me there for a minute.

I was afraid I was gonna have to get rid of my old comic books and train set.
I'm ok. My head's pretty empty, although I do the NY Times X-word puzzle every day and solved the 1st 35 archived Wordles without failing.

Other than that, I got cobwebs in my attic.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:35 PM

44. No one's mentioned what to me has been obvious for years...

my memory seems to work better when my actual environment isn't cluttered. Does this relate to the article? Is there something in those of us who order their environment such that "every thing has a place, and every thing in it's place" (as much as possible) have a more accessible memory index? One only has to spend a day in my house to see the rule in action around here. Clutter and mess follow my hubby everywhere and he can't remember where his coffee cup is from one moment to the next. I try very hard to keep my areas cleaned of clutter and still forget... tho not nearly as much nor as often as hubby. I'm always much less frustrated on a day to day basis - because, I think, I'm less surrounded by clutter and have more room to move without knocking stuff off desks, etc.

I can see in this a comparable situation to what the author is saying in the article. The less crowded and cluttered one's mind, the more accessible the information stored. YMMV, of course....

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 05:44 PM

47. Now in my 60s, I have to lay a trail to a memory I want to keep.

Like if I want to remember the number 9, I'd think, 9 is an upsidedown 6, six sounds like sex, so it's a sexy number. Then I can find it if I think of sex....which I think about alot....or when I think of upsidedown. It's like a memory trail I follow back to the memory without stopping at all the other stuff in my head.

I use to lay trails like that for school memorization. But now I have to lay trails for most every new thing I want to have easy access to.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 06:06 PM

48. I can see that in one of my in-law relatives.

We're friends to some extent; but when she talks,
she just goes on and on and on and on with way
too much information.

And she has great difficulty forming new memories.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 06:42 PM

51. "because of greater difficulty suppressing irrelevant information..."

Eh, I call BS on this part from my own personal perspective. It's not like we're a pack of idiots that can't discern important details.

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Response to hippywife (Reply #51)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 10:49 AM

61. You did not discern important details in the OP. Try again. . . nt

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #61)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 10:59 AM

63. I quickly discerned something very important from this post.

But to keep the peace, I'll keep it to myself.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 07:35 PM

52. Our memory coat rack is full.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 08:09 PM

54. When I first read this thread subject...

I thought it was going to be about physical clutter and old people. I'm a minimalist so I will never understand why people in their 80's are hanging on to so much crap they can't walk a clear path from one room to then next. I live in a senior community and have been inside some of the houses when people die or move into assisted living and then I remember the stories that circulated throughout the community about this person having fallen or tripped and broken something. You'd think they'd put two and two together and clean out their homes or hire someone if they physically can't. Better yet, don't wait until you can't do it any longer and stop kidding yourself in thinking that you'll live to be 90 and have all the time in the world to do it.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Fri Feb 11, 2022, 08:11 PM

55. The brain's hard drives have so much info

that it takes the pointer longer to find the data one is looking for.

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Response to Jilly_in_VA (Original post)

Sat Feb 12, 2022, 11:17 AM

65. But I was so much older then

I’m so much younger now.

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