Forgetting, cannot recollect: Warning signs of Alzheimerâ€™s
Oh dear, Iâ€™m sorry I forgot to bring that book today, Iâ€™ll bring it
tomorrow without fail. Is it ok by you? The phrases I forgot to...I
forget the details... are so commonly heard and used by almost every
second person nowadays.
What do you think it is? A memory dysfunction, is it? A frightening
situation although some of us hardly realise it and are sometimes,
totally unaware of it.
Alzheimerâ€™s disease, Dr. Puang Yong, Director Brain Tumor Clinic,
Singapore recently observed, is fast spreading in society. Age is not
the issue. It can happen to anyone.
Beware! Alzheimer leads to a progressive loss of memory in two forms,
where there could be loss of memory for occurrences prior to some event
or loss of memory for events following an injury as in Korsakoffâ€™s
syndrome, a disease that affects long term alcoholics resulting in
Thus it is clear that alcoholics and drug addicts would suffer the
consequences to a greater degree than others, including the aged
population as the disease is associated with old age too, which may
leave us Sri Lankans with many Alzheimerâ€™s sufferers in the near future.
Everyone of us want and even crave to have a â€˜good memoryâ€™, donâ€™t we?
What is memory? It is the process by which we encode, store and retrieve
Forgetting is essential for us too, for the proper functioning of
memory, and the ability to forget inconsequential details about
experiences, people and objects allow us to avoid being burdened
However, the problem of forgetting is said to be associated with two
major theories namely loss of information through non-use or
interference which is a process where information in the memory
displaces or blocks out other information, preventing its recall or
through the decay theory which assumes that when new material is learned
a memory trace or engram (which is an actual physical chance in the
In the case of decay the trace it is said to simply fade away with
nothing left behind, but is not however not the complete explanation for
forgetting. Specialists believe that interference is the key process in
forgetting (Potter 1990), it is said that we mainly forget things
because new memories interfere with the retrieval of old ones and not
because the memory trace has decayed.
Psychologists say that there are two sorts of interferences, which
occur in a personâ€™s brain, proactive interference which is when
information learned earlier interferes with the recalling of material to
which one is exposed later while retroactive interference is a situation
when new information interferes with the recalling of information
because of later exposure to different material.
However, seeing the need to find solutions to this grave problem of
forgetting psychologists have developed a number of â€˜specific techniques
to improve the memory power of the individual such as using the keyword
technique to memorise foreign vocabulary, applying the method of loci to
learn lists, using encoding specific phenomenon, organising text
material and lecture notes and practising enough so that over learning,
studying and rehearsing past the point of initial mastery which can be
applied on children as well as adults. These techniques have all proved
to help people minimise forgetting information.
So, if you are in the habit of â€˜forgetting information or recalling
incidents try out some of the suggested techniques and put it into
practice to perfect the situation, or seek professional help today in
order to improve your memory power.