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Memory Quiz: Why Do We Forget?

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Sex can trigger amnesia.

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Sex can trigger amnesia.

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It's a type of sudden, temporary memory loss known as transient global amnesia.  You may not know where you are or what time it is, but you still know who you and your family members are. This type of amnesia is usually triggered by some event. Sometimes that event is sex.

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"Baby brain" may just be a myth.

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"Baby brain" may just be a myth.

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Many women say they have "baby brain" -- forgetfulness during and after pregnancy. A recent study gave memory tests to women before, during, and after the baby bump. They found very little brain power differences during pregnancy.


So why do women swear baby brain is real? The power of suggestion, said the researchers. You’re more forgetful because that’s just what you expect.

You can have memory problems weeks after you smoke marijuana.

You can have memory problems weeks after you smoke marijuana.

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Smoking weed causes memory and learning difficulties. It dulls your thinking, problem solving, and physical coordination. And it can interfere with your thinking for days or even weeks after you smoke. So frequent users may operate at a lower level all the time.


Scientists still don’t know whether the changes marijuana makes to your brain are permanent.

You walk into a house and have déjà vu, the feeling that you’ve been there before. Most likely:

You walk into a house and have déjà vu, the feeling that you’ve been there before. Most likely:

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That’s one explanation for déjà vu, having an odd, knowing feeling when you’re in a completely new situation.
 

When you’re in a new setting that’s laid out like a place you remember, even unfamiliar objects may seem like you’ve seen them before. That’s just your memory’s way of saying that you’re in a familiar situation. Most adults can’t remember anything from their infancy.

People start losing brain cells at age:

People start losing brain cells at age:

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In our early 20s, we start to lose our brain cells. That changes how your brain stores new memories. It’s a normal part of getting older. But you can slow this age-related memory loss by keeping active. Try exercise, dancing, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and staying socially involved.

Why can you remember song lyrics from 20 years ago, but not someone’s name from last week?

Why can you remember song lyrics from 20 years ago, but not someone’s name from last week?

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Older memories are the most deeply embedded in our minds. Our brains build new memories on them. So as we age, we can’t remember newer things as well as we do the old stuff.


Also, names are arbitrary labels in our minds. Remembering a name is tricky without having some meaning to anchor it to. In contrast, music has a powerful connection to feelings and memories, so it sticks in our minds better.

Skip breakfast and you’ll be more likely to:

Skip breakfast and you’ll be more likely to:

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Your mother was right. Eating a good breakfast really is important. Not because it makes you smarter though. It helps you remember things better, like lines from a speech or facts from a book. Most likely it’s due to the blood sugar boost you get when you eat.

Drinking alcohol makes it harder to:

Drinking alcohol makes it harder to:

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Alcohol might block your brain from converting new memories into the kinds that are stored for a long time in your mind. But it doesn’t interfere with older memories you had before drinking. Nor will it keep you from making new short-term memories while you’re drinking.


The more booze you have at one time, the more it affects your memory.

A sudden, high-stress event might boost your memory.

A sudden, high-stress event might boost your memory.

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Thanks to a burst of stress hormones, suddenly seeing something upsetting might sharpen your memory and make you more alert.


Your body can’t handle ongoing stress well, though. Long-term, or chronic, stress can shrink part of your brain and make it harder to focus and remember things. And it could cause other health problems such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, and diabetes.

 

Antihistamines and sleeping pills can hurt your memory.

Antihistamines and sleeping pills can hurt your memory.

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Millions of Americans take antihistamines (for allergies) or sleep medication, which may cause temporary memory problems.
 

Some people who take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins also report mild memory loss and confusion.  Luckily, the memory problems stop once you go off the drug.


Talk to your doctor if you suspect you’re having drug-related memory problems.

As they approach menopause, women begin losing their memory permanently.

As they approach menopause, women begin losing their memory permanently.

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Perimenopause is the months or years leading up to a woman’s last period. Hormone changes can wreak havoc on your body during this time. Along with hot flashes, about 60% of women have some memory loss. Luckily, it’s not permanent. You get your mental edge back about a year after your periods have stopped.

People who can remember every day of their life:

People who can remember every day of their life:

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People who can remember every day of their life have what is called a super autobiographical memory. They can recall the details of what they were wearing on a particular day 20 years ago.

 

But they don’t generally score at the genius level on intelligence tests or have incredible short-term memories. The secret is that certain parts of their brain are larger.

During sleep, your mind is hard at work:

During sleep, your mind is hard at work:

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When you’re catching ZZZ’s, your brain is busy firming up its memories. Introducing new info and accessing your memories both happen while you’re awake. You need all three steps to happen for your memory to work well.

 

So be sure to get plenty of sleep. Most of us need about seven to nine hours every night to be at our best.

Broccoli is a good memory booster.

Broccoli is a good memory booster.

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Vegetables like broccoli and leafy green ones like spinach are great for your heart as well as your memory. People who ate them had a much slower memory decline in one study.


Foods high in folic acid such as lentils, peas, and fortified cereals could also help your memory. Same goes for fish, mainly because it’s high in brain-developing omega-3 fatty acids. You might even get a memory perk from omega-3s in the form of a dietary supplement.

Losing your eyesight can lead to memory loss.

Losing your eyesight can lead to memory loss.

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When people have bad eyesight, they tend to also do poorly on memory tests. Why? Scientists aren’t really sure. One theory: Trouble seeing makes you shy away from stimulating activities. So your brain loses its sharpness.

If you have fibromyalgia, your pain may be causing brain fog.

If you have fibromyalgia, your pain may be causing brain fog.

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People with fibromyalgia -- a complex chronic pain condition -- often have fibro fog, or brain fog. They have problems like remembering names and faces, mixing up words, and concentrating.

 

Brain scans suggest fibromyalgia’s chronic pain might actually cause the fog. Pain signals may work the brain overtime, making it hard to do everyday things.

 

People with lupus also get brain fog. A therapist can help you retrain your brain to cope.

Crosswords work as memory boosters only if you start by your 30s. 

Crosswords work as memory boosters only if you start by your 30s. 

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A 2011 study showed that people who regularly worked crossword puzzles late in life slowed their rate of memory loss by 2.5 years. That’s regardless of how educated they were or what else they did to stay busy.

 

Leisurely activities like reading, board games, musical instruments, dancing, as well as being social and exercising have all been linked to lower dementia risks. Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia.

Tricks for remembering something -- called mnemonic devices -- date back to:

Tricks for remembering something -- called mnemonic devices -- date back to:

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Mnemonic devices are memory tricks that have been used since Ancient Greece. They help us remember otherwise arbitrary pieces of info through rhymes, acronyms, and other mental tools.

 

For example, "ROY G. BIV" stands for the order of colors in a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

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