After about age 50, most people begin to experience a decline in memory capability. Why is that? One obvious answer is that the small arteries of the brain begin to clog up, often as a result of a lifetime of eating the wrong things and a lack of exercise. If that lifetime has been stressful, many neurons may have been killed by stress hormones. Given the most recent scientific literature, reviewed in my book Thank You, Brain, For All You Remember. What You Forgot Was My Fault, dead neurons can’t be replaced, except in the hippocampus, which is fortunate for memory because the hippocampus is essential for making certain kinds of memories permanent. Another cause is incipient Alzheimer’s disease; autopsies show that many people have the lesions of the disease but have never shown symptoms, presumably because a lifetime of exceptional mental activity has built up a “cognitive reserve.
So is there anything you can do about it besides exercise like crazy, eat healthy foods that you don’t like all that much, pop your statin pills, and take up yoga?
Yes. In short: focus, focus, focus.
Changing thinking styles can help. Research shows that [Read more…] about What You Can do to Improve Memory (and Why It Deteriorates in Old Age)