Why do not you know where you leave keys and other memory lapses

"Where have I left the glasses?", "And the mobile?", "What was the name of the movie I saw yesterday?" … These are questions that, sometimes, we can not answer the first and that makes us think that something bad happens to us … But no: tranquility before everything. "With the age, our memory is weak due to chemical causes (because we generate a smaller quantity of the substances necessary for the brain cells work), but also physical: because our energy is dispersed. We are programmed to age and the memory leaks they are part of that process ", advises the anti-aging coaching Carmen Giménez-Cuenca.

These changes influence the way the brain stores memories. For example, forgetting the name of the restaurant where we have just had dinner is a type of slip that becomes more frequent as we get older. "The normal thing is that we all lose a certain degree of cognitive abilities, although it does not have to be devastating," warns psychiatrist Paula Martín Marfil, an expert in Neuroendometabolic Medicine. We can fight against that wear in several ways: by memory exercises, using mental games to remember those details or establishing routines that avoid carelessness. You touch learn to remember.

1. I HAVE PURCHASED EVERYTHING … LESS WHAT I WAS GOING TO LOOK FOR

How many times does it happen to us that we go to the supermarket to buy the bread and come back with a bag full of things … but without bread? With the years, our brain retains less and less information. "This has to do with what is called work memory, a set of processes that allow us to store and temporarily manipulate the information we receive for the realization of complex cognitive tasks. Things like the understanding of language, reading, mathematics, learning or reasoning. Let's say it's a kind of short-term memory"Explains Paula Martín.

The normal thing is that we are able to remember five to nine objects from our shopping list (seven is the average). To achieve this, object display it is a fundamental part that helps us to retain it. You can use this in your favor with a very effective technique: it consists in previously associating what you need to buy to a mental image of the food or the places of the supermarket where it is located. If you do this simple exercise before making the purchase and repeat it during the next visits to the supermarket, you will see that every time you forget less things. And the plus is that you're offering the brain a good stimulus that helps strengthen your memory.

Take note: The more extravagant the images you choose to associate them with those objects and visualize them in your mind, the better they will remain in your memory. Let your imagination fly.

2. HAVE I CLOSED GAS?

We leave home and, when we are far enough away to not be able to return, the idea begins to torment us that we have not closed the gas and that the house is going to explode. "When you are young, * you also suffer episodes of stress of this type, but you have more resources and strength to face them ", recalls Carmen Giménez-Cuenca.

Stress is the son of fear. When you are subjected to a tension (like thinking that your house is going to explode), starts "the machine of anguish": we lack oxygen, muscle contractions and loss of cognitive faculties. And if we believe that a home is at stake, there is no time to think and we anticipate the worst.

Take note: For information as important as turning off the gas to "install" well in your memory, you must make the most of the five senses and all your emotions, whether positive or negative. You have to focus your attention on what you are doing and create automatisms. Try to look at all the important and mechanical actions you do at home. It is not difficult, but you have to dedicate time: it takes between 21 and 60 days to acquire a new habit.

3. WHAT IS IT THAT WAS GOING TO SAY?

It happens to us many times. We are talking absent-mindedly with someone, suddenly you ask for the word and just when you are going to launch your brightest idea you forget what you were going to say. Psychologists call it "derailment of the train of thought." The human eye makes continuous movements to register the environment. Even during a conversation it moves about five or six times per second. Thanks to this, it collects huge amounts of information that it sends to the brain, which causes us certain interruptions that cause that loss of the idea that we pretended to express. Scientific studies explain that the same system of the brain that participates in the interruption of the movement of our body is the one that also interrupts the thought and makes us lose the thread of a conversation in progress.

Take note: If you want to not get distracted during the conversation, put the focus on your interlocutor and do not let your eyes wander scattered around the room. The brain processes better any information that it is visualizing.

4. I HAVE IT AT THE TIP OF THE LANGUAGE …

Sometimes, during a conversation, you want to refer to something, you visualize it in your mind and it turns out that you do not get the word. The specific term for this type of forgetting is "letological": De lethe, forgetfulness; and logos, language. In Greek mythology, Lethe was one of the five rivers of the underground world, where the souls of the dead drank to forget all earthly memories. It's about a very common phenomenon, which is explained by the way in which the vocabulary is stored in the brain. First we learn the word, then its pronunciation and finally we access its spelling. It is a process composed of three interconnected steps. But sometimes, for whatever reason (nerves, emotions …), it is very difficult to access any of these steps. But between 50 and 70% of cases, the word comes back to mind in less than a minute. If you are still blocked, you can always use synonyms. It's nothing serious.

Take note: Talking by moving your hands releases a space in your memory that helps eliminate certain language blocks. A study conducted at the University of Chicago (USA) indicated that this technique significantly improves the ability to organize our ideas in the course of a conversation.

5. WAS YOUR NAME …?

How embarrassing it is to be introduced to someone, start a conversation and when referring to your new friend, you can not remember their name. Or, even worse, that someone else join the group and you have to present, but do not remember what it's called. The new names that are incorporated into your life are the most difficult to remember because you have not yet created a visual memory of the person or you have not repeated it enough times to be stored in your memory. The human brain tends to remember more easily the face of people and other details (from their image, work or hobbies) to relate and store them in order to have a reference, leaving for the end the name, which requires more mental effort.

It can also happen that we are so distracted or fatigued that at the time of the presentations we have not attended to the new name. Identifying why this neglect occurs is one of the best ways to know what kind of disorder there is in our life.

Take note: Incorporate into your brain an image or feature that you associate with the new name. For example, "Javier has a peculiar mustache." If you are in front of several people in a work meeting, it may be very useful to repeat their names aloud as they are presented to you.

6. WHERE DID I LEAVE THE KEYS OF THE CAR?

It is a scientific question: to remember an information, first you have to "learn it". Only then it is possible to store it and find it when you need it. If we do not know where we left the car keys it is because when we left them we were not paying attention. We had a scattered mind and abandoned them carelessly. It is something that usually happens when we arrive from work, after a tiring day.

These episodes of stress stress the body and trigger a physiological response which results in greater release of certain substances, such as catecholamines (adrenaline, for example) and the glucocorticoids (like cortisol) The danger comes if there are continued effects in the response to stress on the organism. They are the ones who end up behaving alterations important That is what we have to know how to control. If we arrive home with tension, we must identify it and activate our defense mechanisms.

Remember that 400 thousandths of a second pass since we left the car keys in one place until the brain identifies that action. If we pay attention to what we are doing during that brief fraction of time, it will be easier for the brain to remember it. "This forgetfulness is a problem of attention. And we can train that attention, for example, with mindfulness exercises, "or full attention, as Carmen Giménez-Cuenca suggests.

Take note: Concentrate all your sensory perception in a radius of only 45 cm around the usual place where you leave the car keys, for example. In this way, it will be in this perimeter where you can find them in most of the occasions. Another measure that can be useful to avoid this type of distractions is to create a routine so as not to "waste" the brain in memorization of minor issues, like this one.

Multitasking? No thanks

We are able to talk on the phone while erasing emails and watch that the child does not put the control of television in the tank. In fact, a study by the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow ensures that the female brain needs less energy than the male to change its attention during the performance of various tasks. So it seems that women were born to do it all at once. However, experts say you have to be careful, because so many neural connections are put into operation at the same time they wear noticeably the cognitive capacity. According to research by the Institute of Technology in Massachusetts, the multitasking It increases the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, as well as that of adrenaline. Instead of making you work faster, what you get is to overstimulate the brain to provoke mental fog. "The concentration must be maintained at 100% in any activity that we consider important. So it is essential to detect and know how to differentiate which are essential and which are not, "says Paula Martín.

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