A column by Supervisor Alex Gromack
Memory has always been an
How we remember things and
how those memories shape us and our world views have been the themes of great
novels, plays, movies, popular songs and of course scientific studies.
Some memories bring joy
others bring sadness.
One night we can be sitting
with a group of friends around the dinner table laughing our fool heads off as
we listen again to the often told story about that deep sea fishing trip where the
only thing Joe caught was his pants.
The next night we are sitting
by ourselves, weeping as we remember just how much we miss Joe.
The emotional impact of our
memories can be quite strong, sometimes almost as strong as the actual event.
Our memories are like a
picture show in our heads. Sometimes it is a silent movie with black and white
scenery. Other times it’s an I Max production with sound by Bose.
I’m not sure if animals have
memories. I guess they might but there’s no question that having memories is
part of being human.
Aging seems to take a toll on
our memories. Perhaps that’s because we have far more things to remember when
we’re sixty than we did when we were fifteen or maybe it’s because we have far
more things we would like to forget.
Either way, at a time in our
lives when we tend to look back in an attempt to make some sense of our past we
may find it harder to remember it.
There are a number of
‘strategies’ out there claiming to reverse the process of memory loss. Most of
the marketing is aimed at the ‘over the hill’ gang. Age, unlike the speed of
light in a vacuum, is a relative thing. Where you stand on the hill determines
who is over it.
Many of these strategies are
based upon what you eat and how often you eat it.
There are certain food groups
that are touted like fish and vegetables. Then there’s ginkgo biloba to name
just one of many supplements, guaranteed to improve your memory or your money
back. Now, if you could just remember where you bought it!
Of course there are some more
scientific approaches out there. Take for example a recent research study
conducted in Germany
the results of which were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy
That study showed a diet that
restricted caloric intake by 30% during a three month period actually increased
a study group’s verbal memory score by 20%.
Dr. A. Veronica Witte, leader
of the study team at the University
of Munster said, “To our
knowledge, the current results provide the first experimental evidence in
humans that caloric restriction improves memory in the elderly.”
So now, finally, science has come
to our rescue and given us a real choice.
We can spend our ‘golden years’
walking around remembering just how hungry we are or we can spend them forgetting
when we last ate.