Devoting yourself to a good word search is one of the most popular tips when it comes to exercising your memory and ensuring good cognitive performance in old age. But is this the only way to preserve our memories – and our minds – throughout life? Experts heard before R7 Explain that it is not so simple.
There are a number of factors associated with memory function, and the age-old principle “you are what you eat” can also be applied in this case, as well as issues with genetics and underlying disease.
It is inevitable that memory will change throughout life and that after a certain age, information is not processed as quickly and easily.
However, It is possible to reach old age without signs of dementia or significant cognitive lossexplains neurosurgeon Marcelo Valadares, of the clinical staff at the Israelita Albert Einstein Hospital, in São Paulo, and a researcher in the specialty of neurosurgery at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Unicamp (Campinas State University).
For this, the path is known: to maintain a healthy diet, to engage in regular physical activity, to avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages and smoking.
These are the same recommendations for circumventing problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure, for example, where brain health also depends on the proper functioning of the entire body.
However, hobbies such as crossword puzzles and maintaining a good reading habit are important allies for training cognitive skills.
However, these activities alone are not enough to preserve memory, according to psychiatrist Rodrigo Martins Leit, of the Institute of Psychiatry, Hospital das Clinicas, School of Medicine, University of São Paulo.
“What international studies show is that dementia is related to physical health risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes. So far, if a person does not pay attention to the health aspects [como um todo]Cognitive training alone is not enough to prevent dementia,” says the psychiatrist.
How does memory work?
Basically, it is as if there are compartments in the brain where memories are arranged in order of importance. One is a recent or short-term memory, which, according to the MSD Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment, temporarily stores information that will be needed, such as a grocery list.
There is also a working memory that stores knowledge that will be used immediately, such as remembering where you are.
Long-term memory, as the name suggests, stores relevant information and experiences throughout life.
“Our brain is letting go of things that are not relevant, unnecessary or that we don’t think about. So it is not about that our memory is infinite, it is sorted, has meaning and is operated as we appreciate it,” explains the neurosurgeon.
Emotions are also an important component of this memorization, according to the psychiatrist, and they can modulate memory capacity, filtering out what the brain will retain or ignore.
“When we look at the past, in general, we end up with a selective memory. Situations that we experience are full of emotions, whether positive or negative, that end up making our memory more marked, while the more trivial ones, without much associated emotion With it, it ends up being recorded with less evidence,” confirms Martins Light.
The effect of technology on memory
For professionals, it is still not possible to measure the effect of the Internet and digital media on memory, or even to determine the effect caused by the avalanche of information and interactions that the use of a social network, for example, can provide.
“What we can actually see is that, in a more empirical way, this data overload is associated with reduced memory retention. As these elements get larger, we end up having a lot of difficulty filtering and choosing what is important from what is not important. So this overflow of the information ends up harming the consolidation of memories,” highlights psychiatrist Martins Light.
On the other hand, neurosurgeon Marcelo Valadaris believes that technology can also stimulate thinking because it facilitates access to quality information.
Good memory, and amnesia in particular, is often associated with using our intelligence, performing complex activities, studying, and reading. So, if we consider that technology comes for motivation and development, we can have it [por exemplo] Further reading,” Valadares highlights.
But it’s different for people who spend a lot of time on the internet and don’t sleep well, for example. Good sleep is essential for our brain to better process our memories, and people who don’t have good sleep may experience a loss of this function over time,” concludes the neurosurgeon.
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