Please see below recent memory-related change.
- Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio observed in his work on consciousness that we often “use our minds not to discover facts, but to hide them.” We do this on the personal level - out of such selective memory and by such exquisite exclusion, we compose the narrative that is the psychological pillar of our identity. We do it on the cultural level - what we call history is a collective selective memory that excludes far more of the past’s realities than it includes, noted Maria Popova.
- Optogenetics is a technique that occurs when a protein sensitive to light is "inserted into neurons, which can then be turned on and off with a blue laser." This, combined with advanced imaging, is giving neuroscientists a comprehensive understanding of how memories form.
- For The School of Life, when we can’t sleep, when there’s no wifi, we should always think of going on Memory Journeys. Our experiences have not disappeared, just because they are no longer unfolding right in front of our eyes. We can remain in touch with so much of what made them pleasurable simply through the art of evocation. We talk endlessly of virtual reality. Yet we don’t need gadgets. We have the finest virtual reality machines already in our own heads. We can right now shut our eyes and travel into, and linger amongst, the very best and most consoling and life-enhancing bits of our past.
- Scientists are growing more confident that air pollution - especially from particulate matter less than 2.5 microns wide, known as PM 2.5 - significantly raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, according to a series of separate studies. Nevertheless, about 70% of dementia risk still stems from an individual’s genetic predisposition to the disease, and the remainder comes down to age, lifestyle, and environmental factors.
- Large public housing estates can be disorienting even for people without memory loss. To help those suffering from dementia find their way, the Alzheimer's Disease Association of Singapore created murals on the walls of ground floor spaces. The project uses images chosen by neighbourhood residents with dementia. All are of familiar, old-fashioned food items.
- Police in Dubai used a ‘memory print’ to help crack a murder case. Brainwave mapping technology demonstrated that one of the suspects remembered the knife used in the killing. In recent years, researchers have started to better understand the brainwave patterns associated with memories, noted New World, Same Humans.
- In his book Beyond Settler Time: Temporal Sovereignty and Indigenous Self-Determination, Mark Rifkin argues that Native people exist in a timeless space, everchanging between referential frames of time. Native people exist in a “precontact” past or within a “postcolonial” current, depending on which consciousness and gaze are being employed. It is through memory that Native people reclaim a history both individual and collective, both personal and communal, both deeply intimate and extremely political. Memory is woven in a unique matrix with land, language, and time. Native people have already "mastered time travel": they are able to conjure the deepest parts of humanhood through the act of memory.
- The Financial Times analysed why many people's memory of the coronavirus lockdown months was rather thin. No matter how many new people or old friends people talked to on Zoom or Skype, they all started to smear together because the physical context was monotonous: the conversations take place while one sits in the same chair, in the same room, staring at the same computer screen.
- Roman Krznaric asks us to imagine looking back at the epidemic from the perspective of young people living in the year 2120. In a hundred years from today, how will those future generations remember this moment in history? How important will this crisis, that seems so total and world-changing to us right now, appear a century in the future? Might it be hardly remembered at all, and be seen as just a small blip in a tragic historical trajectory that was shaped by far larger and more dangerous forces?
- “Dementia” is an umbrella term for a range of conditions, with a variety of causes, of which the most common is Alzheimer’s disease, accounting for 60-80% of cases. By some estimates, 1.7% of 65- to 69-year-olds have dementia and the risk of developing it doubles every five years after that. At present, about 50m people around the world have the condition, a number expected to rise to 82m by 2030 and 150m by 2050. Most of the new cases are in the developing world, where populations are rising and ageing.
- A new and relatively cheap blood test can spot indicators of future risk of Alzheimer’s up to 20 years before the onset of memory loss and thinking problems, the NYT reported. Decades of Alheimer’s drug research based on the goal of preventing amyloid plaque build-up in the brain have failed to produce a cure.
- A study shed light on how the internal dynamics of the cells that comprise our brains can make it go haywire, and offer a potential route to a solution. Phase transition sometimes takes place in cells. Molecules inside cells responsible for cellular metabolism can change from solid to liquid to carry out specific tasks. However, it occasionally happens that the process that allows this to happen breaks down, and the molecules remain a little more solid than is ideal. This means that the molecules are no longer able to move around the cell and do their jobs. When this happens in certain cells in the brain, toxins associated with Alzheimer's disease and various other conditions start to build up in and around the cells.
- How much of who we are is shaped by memory? Scientists, philosophers, artists, poets, and musicians alike have all grappled with the notion of the self - that seemingly immutable and enduring sense of who we are, steadfast in the face of life’s many vicissitudes. Within the field of cognitive neuroscience, we have yet to find a universal definition of what the self does and does not encapsulate. IAI News considered how the self endures even amid the onset of dementia and memory loss.
- Movement is extremely important for memory. Reams of research detail the importance of regular exercise. Besides physical health, staying fit leads to good mental health. A year-long study at UT Southwestern, published in The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, involved 30 volunteers who (median age: 66) either ran or stretched for 25-30 minutes three times a week. Each participant had no recent experience with exercise. Every volunteer showed some sign of memory impairment, which was a requirement. The stretch group performed a series of flexibility and balance exercises designed to keep their heart rate stable while strengthening their upper and lower bodies. The cardiovascular group completed a number of heart-raising exercises. After a year, researchers measured cerebral blood flow in each participant. The aerobic group showed increased blood flow to two regions key to memory retention: the anterior cingulate cortex (responsible for attention allocation, reward anticipation, impulse control, and more) and the prefrontal cortex (decision making, personality, planning complex behaviour, and more). While the stretching group experienced minimal improvement in memory tests over the course of the year, the aerobic group saw a 47% in test scores.
- Smartphones have been shown to harm the brain’s ability to retain important details, according to one review from Oxford, King’s College London, Harvard, and Western Sydney University. In short, the research says that when people rely on devices to remember things, they often fail to actually learn them. This explains why, despite having visited your favourite restaurant several times, you might still rely on Google maps to get you there. You are not training your memory to recall information, warned the Harvard Business Review.
- People with the world’s best memories - who set world records for reciting pi to 100,000 digits, or win championships for memorising decks of cards in 18 seconds - aren’t genetically gifted. They’re trained. And most of them use some version of the same technique, called the “mind palace”, argued Quartz.
- Some people don’t seem ti have the same limitations as the rest of us - whether it’s thriving on next-to-no sleep, having a near-perfect memory, or being more mindful and resilient to change. Quartz is searching the world for these people and the scientists studying them, to tell their stories and to understand what makes them so "exceptional".
- More than a century’s worth of studies have confirmed we are also better at remembering things if we experience them at different times, rather than repeatedly in quick session. This is one of the main reasons why, when preparing for exams, a regular study routine is more effective than cramming. According to the theory, rapidly repeated material is associated with a single state of context, whereas material repeated across different times and events is associated with several different states of context.
- A neuroscientist at the University of Toronto designed an app to help the memory-impaired recall those valuable experiences. app, called the Hippocamera, encourages users to record events, then prompts them to review these videos six times a day at three times the original speed, mimicking the natural pace of the hippocampus. In early tests, the app improved the ability of the average healthy participant to recall the details of an event after a lapse of three months by 40%.
- The author of Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes, argued that, to optimise memory, Holmes style, one has to expand one's limited "brain attic," so that what used to be a small space can suddenly become much larger because we are using the space more efficiently.
- According to the Financial Times, one day, perhaps we will back up the contents of our brain to a cloud service. If someone dies, it will be possible, in certain, legally-delineated circumstances, to download their brain to a newly cloned body. The dead will live on, with little more drama than it takes today to move files to a new laptop. If everyone wore an audio life recorder - a simple digital device - 24 hours a day, and if all conversations were uploaded to a kind of blockchain for arguments, there would never be any question about who said what. Any tampering with the universal conversation ledger would be there for all to see.
- For The School of Life, the idea of making a big deal of revisiting an experience in memory sounds a little strange - or simply sad. We’re often not assiduous or devoted cultivators of our past experiences. We shove the nice things that have happened to us at the back of the cupboard of our minds and don’t particularly expect to see them ever again. They happen, and then we’re done with them.
- Music is essential for people with dementia, claimed Quartz. Personalised playlists may alleviate some symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s.
- Although it’s already well known that we should pace our studies, new research suggests that we should aim for “minimal interference” during these breaks - deliberately avoiding any activity that could tamper with the delicate task of memory formation. So no running errands, checking emails, or smartphones.
- Our memory probably isn’t as good as we think it is. We rely on our memories not only for sharing stories with friends or learning from our past experiences, but we also use it for crucial things like creating a sense of personal identity. Yet evidence shows that our memory isn’t as consistent as we’d like to believe. What’s worse, we’re often guilty of changing the facts and adding false details to our memories without even realising.
- An MIT Media Lab research project called Mnemo records as much data about as possible about its lead researcher; throughout most of the day, he goes about his normal activities with a fisheye camera lens and a microphone attached to his chest. Singularity Hub noted that this project is reminiscent of previous studies: Morris Villarroel, a professor of animal physiology, used cameras and logbooks to keep track of the mundane day-to-day events of his life and long before selfies and cell phone videos became popular, Sam Klemke filmed himself annually every year since 1977.
- According to Singularity Hub, there may be legal or safety reasons to encourage keeping a detailed record of our lives; after all, it’s a perfect alibi. The Lawfare Blog suggested that this might be one of the only ways to combat deepfake images or videos of celebrities; famous individuals could have an “immutable authentication trail” that could confirm what did or didn’t happen. (A personal blockchain of our lives, perhaps?)
- The term false memories logically implies the existence of ‘true’ memories. Where false memories recall things that definitely didn’t happen, true memories would be reliable and accurate memories of things that did. A straightforward binary distinction. However, the way our brain handles and stores memories is far more complex, and far less logical, according to the iai. A true memory can become gradually more ‘false’ with each retelling, thanks to the way the brain stores our memories.
- Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioural economics Daniel Kahneman revealed at TED how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently.
- 'Life comes at us very quickly, and what we need to do is take that amorphous flow of experience and somehow extract meaning from it' claimed educational psychologist Peter Doolittle, who detailed the importance and limitations of our "working memory" - that part of the brain that allows us to make sense of what's happening right now.
- Scott Fraser, who studied how humans remember crimes - and bear witness to them. In this powerful TED talk, which focuses on a deadly shooting at sunset, he suggested that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create "memories" they could not have seen. Why? Because the brain abhors a vacuum.
- For the School of Life, our homes have a memorialising function, and what they are helping us to remember is, strangely enough, ourselves. We can see this need to anchor identity in matter in the history of religion. Humans have from the earliest days expended enormous care and creativity on building homes for their gods. They haven’t felt that their gods could live just anywhere, out in the wild or as it were in hotels, they have believed that they needed special places, where their specific characters could be stabilised through art and architecture.
- Town Square is a 1950s-style town that offers an interactive experience for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The experience immerses visitors in reminiscence therapy, which transports patients to a time of their strongest memories (usually formed between ages 10-30). The Town Square, reported TrendWatching, is currently targeting patients in their 70s or 80s, which is why it replicates the period between 1953-1961. Each Town Square features 14 storefronts (including a pet store, a diner, and a movie theatre), where caregivers guide visitors through specialised, therapeutic activities.
- In our recent study, The Conversation asked more than 6,000 people of all ages to say what their first autobiographical memory was, how old they were when the event happened, to rate how emotional and vivid it was and to report what perspective the memory was “seen” from. We found that on average people reported their first memory occurring during the first half of the third year of their lives (3.24 years to be precise). This matches well with other studies that have investigated the age of early memories.
- However,contemporary theories of memory highlight the constructive nature of memory; memories are not “records” of events, but rather psychological representations of the self in the past.
- The Conversation also noted that researchers who have investigated memory development suggest that the neurological processes needed to form autobiographical memories are not fully developed until between the ages of three and four years. Other research has suggested that memories are linked to language development. Language allows children to share and discuss the past with others, enabling memories to be organised in a personal autobiography.
- A Scottish company was given planning permission to create a memorial garden with no visible grave signs or markers. Loved ones deposit physical mementos or time capsules in the ground, locating precise plots using smart phones, according BBC Scotland.
- According to GZeroMedia, 41 percent of American adults cannot identify Auschwitz as a Nazi concentration camp. That figure includes 66 percent of those aged 18-34.
- According to futurist Richard Watson, in future we will insure our memories.
- In his "end of remembering", Joshua Foer argued that once upon a time remembering was everything, whereas, today, we have mountains of documents, the web and smartphones to store our memories. Foer asks: how can we adapt to a new reality in which most memories are stored outside the brain?
- Viktor Mayer-Schönberger has gone further, arguing for the “virtue" of forgetting and warning that there is a growing range of social concerns connected with the fact that our technology is remembering every little detail, all the time (listen here). As Evgeny Morizov already made clear when writing about the "dark side of the internet", perhaps if and when "they" come knocking, we shouldn't say that we weren't warned.
- Many individuals are now life-tracking or lifestreaming, ie. trying to record the minutiae of their own lives digitally, partly for posterity, and also to better monitor how they live in the present.
- Nothing wrong with that, but it's also worth looking beyond the horizon from time to time. Thinking about how you would like to be remembered can be a catalyst for radical change. It’s said that Alfred Nobel made the decision to establish his famous prize after his brother died and a newspaper, mistakenly believing it was him, published the epitaph: “The Merchant of Death Is Dead.” To Nobel, who made his fortune from the invention of dynamite, the epitaph was a harsh reminder of how he would go down in history. Shortly after this eye-opener, in a bid to rehabilitate his name, he changed his will, donating most of his fortune to the Nobel Foundation. His memory now lives on, not as a merchant of death, but as an advocate of peace and progress.