Psychology, Tech

Poor Memory in The Internet Age

A woman thinking

A woman thinking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a ridiculously bad memory which is a problem in an age where we are bombarded with information that we have to remember for work or at home. This is why I’m writing this on a notepad in the bath, before I forget it.

My poor short-term recall is one of the main reasons I’m single. I am pathologically terrified of small-talk or rather my inability to spontaneously make it.

My last few relationships have been generally been with confident and, most importantly, talkative women as I am a good listener. I have however a limited list of subjects to start or continue a conversation with in those rosy early days of a relationship because I can’t remember what I’ve been previously told and can’t remember subjects to make conversations about such as things happening in the news or in a magazine I’ve read, or gossip about friends.

My problem is in my brain’s ability to tag memories as important, most things just enter and go straight to long term memory without being registered as being sufficiently important to remember a few hours or a day or so down the line. I can remember taking a photo of a scene when I’m in the same spot again or an obscure fact if I’m reminded of it but just picking out a random fact is just impossible.

My memory requires a prompt to recall anything and even then sometimes it takes a while to drag the relevant facts to the front, and if the event that I need to remember happened while I was very busy then recalling it becomes extremely difficult unless I’ve made some effort to definitely remember it.

It’s bad enough trying to remember what I’ve read in a magazine as the first article has been forgotten as I’ve read the second but the volume of information available via the internet makes it even worse and trying to remember facts to write into blog posts is a nightmare.  The anxiety of not being able to remember what I want to say is part of why I put off writing and instead employ decoy habits to distract me from what I want to do which is write.  Some say the internet will cause us to stop remembering facts and rely on Google instead but that’s a different problem, what if you don’t even remember what you wanted to find?

There are techniques to alleviate the problem, from focussing more on the information being received, thinking about it before moving onto the next thing, associating the information with an image in the mind, writing things down, and more that I, to be honest, can’t remember.  I have notebooks, both paper and Evernote- based, filled with disjointed information which I can, one day pull together into something interesting and useful but the first step is overcoming the fear of not knowing what to say.  Eating more healthily, exercise and getting enough sleep are also meant to be beneficial and I keep telling myself that my memory is getting better as with so many mind related issues often believing you can do something is half the battle.

Science, Society

Stress and Depression

English: Manipulation of a stress ball, laptop...

English: Manipulation of a stress ball, laptop in background. Taken and released into the public domain by User:Kallemax. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our lives today are often more stressful than ever; longer working hours, less leisure time, pressure to achieve targets, less tolerance of mistakes and fear of losing your job, or difficulty in finding a job in the first place all contribute.  Some people claim stress is “all in the mind” some people claim to never get stressed yet probably do (me included).  It is already agreed that stress can cause fatigue, affect your personal life and has numerous psychological effects including depression.

New research from Yale University now supports this hypothesis showing that it causes changes in the brain at a genetic level.  In tests on rats subjected to chronic stress it was found that the gene that controls production of neuritin was less active and the rats showed symptoms of what would be called depression in humans.  Stimulation of neuritin production triggered an improvement greater than the use of conventional anti-depressants.  This also protected the rats from changes in the brain structure too such as shrinking of the hippocampus.

As well as further demonstrating that stress is a major problem this research also provides hope for new and more effective anti-depressants.

[via Gizmodo UK]