Multi-tasking and switching from one job to another is a recipe for disaster. Our brains are not capable of handling too many functions at once or it won’t be able to sort and process memory as well as it needs to. That’s not to say our brains can’t work fast, but when you put it into overdrive in order to accomplish more than once thing at a time you are not giving it the opportunity to sort and process as it should. For that reason you are not allowing it to put things into memory as it should.

Occasional memory lapses are not signs of impending dementia. The majority of the time it’s nothing to worry about. Everyone has a memory lapse or slip now and then. As we get older we tend to experience more of them, and we start to think we are experiencing signs of early onset dementia.


Most doctors will tell you the most often asked questions they get concern lapses in memory – and the questions usually start as early as 30! If you think about it, you are surrounded with all kinds of noises and distractions that can throw anyone off track and not allow a solid memory to form. It’s no wonder some things fall through the memory cracks.

Webster’s Dictionary defines memory as “the mental capacity or faculty of retaining or recalling facts, events, impressions or previous experiences.”  Neuroscientists see memory from different aspects:

  • Short-Term Memory–remembering something for a brief period of time, such as the price of an item until you pay for it
  • Recent Memory –information you just learned, or day-to-day activity
  • Sensory Memory – Recalling what you see, smell, taste, touch and hear
  • Long-Term Memory – distant memories and experiences
  • Declarative Memory – basic knowledge skills, like vocabulary words and facts
  • Procedural Memory – motor skills, chewing, walking or riding a bicycle.
  • Musical Memory – although not one of the basic memory groups, more and more research indicates musical memory, or the portion of your brain that retains the musical notes or sounds you hear, as an entirely different portion of the brain

A doctor once told a friend who was worried about this problem that “your brain is just discarding information that you don’t need to make room for things you are currently learning, kind of like the trash bin in your computer.” In other words, when your memory gets too full you need to dump things that are slowing it down. Now I don’t know if that’s a great analogy, but it worked for my friend. Scientists call this “pruning”, which is much the same as what you do with your bushes to take out the dead or weak branches to strengthen the other parts. Pruning your memory to strengthen the connections is just another way of “spring cleaning” your brain.

There are numerous outside influences that have an effect on our memory, like hormonal imbalance (such as women going through menopause), high blood pressure, low thyroid, diabetes, too much alcohol consumption, poor diet, lack of sleep, or medications that you are taking.

Although it may seem the statistics are higher than this, from 1% – 26% of Americans aged 65 or older will suffer serious memory decline, also known as mild cognitive impairment. This is a transitional phase in aging, and although momentary lapses can become more frequent, it does not impair judgment, nor mean there will be permanent and declining problems.

Studies have suggested that approximately 10% of those with a specific form of memory-related MCI go on to develop some form of dementia, Alzheimer’s (AD) being the most common. It is believed that less than 10% of people 65 and over will actually develop full-blown AD, and 47% of those over 85 probably can.

The good new is, studies have shown that the use of memory training and memory techniques can help to strengthen the brain cells for anyone. For those who are experiencing early onset dementia, or even those who are in mid-cycle, memory training and brain games have been shown to prolong the loss of memory or total incapacitation from dementia.



About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.



Memory Lapses, Postit Science:

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