Memory is the brain’s ability to receive, process, store and retrieve information. Memory is essential for how we learn and remember things, which is important for how we function in our everyday lives.
All of us have problems remembering things from time to time and some things are easier to remember than others. Remembering depends on how your brain stores information and how often you recall the stored information – so strong memories are no accident.
What is memory?
Memory is the process of acquiring, storing, retaining and recalling information.1a
Different types of memory 1b
How we remember information
1. ENCODING – the first step to creating a new memory
Encoding begins with perception (via the senses). It involves attention, which causes the nerves (neurons) in your brain to become more active and signal to one another. This makes the experience more intense and increases the chances that a memory will be encoded.2 For example, if a speaker presents a new topic at a seminar you pay attention, and your brain fires up ready to create a new memory.
2. STORAGE – retaining the information in your brain
This stage takes little effort and happens subconsciously. It simply involves the information being ‘held’ in the brain. Yet, the brain has a special way of organising the information to help sort or filter our memories into sensory memories, short-term memories and long-term memories. This filter helps prevent our brains from being overloaded with information that we do not need to keep, while remembering the bits we do.3
3. RECALL – the retrieval of stored information
Recall is when you access an event or information from the information stored in your brain. By accessing or remembering this information, once again the brain is fired into action – replaying the same patterns in the neurons as occurred in the original event. By doing this, it strengthens the memory because your brain remembers where the information is and how to access it. 4 For example, when you recall the information from your seminar, and apply it in your work, you are re-accessing the memory and strengthening it at the same time.
Why we forget
Whether it is that email you were supposed to send this morning, the name of a restaurant you visited last year, we are all familiar with the concept of forgetting and there are various explanations for it.
⦁ Not properly storing information in the first place
⦁ Competition with other memories that interfere and make it difficult to remember
⦁ Failure to retrieve the memory 1c
Failure to retrieve the memory might be a result of not accessing the memory enough, so the information is not recalled and therefore the pathway within the brain to that memory is not strengthened. For example, a student may find examinations more difficult if they have not spent time recalling (by studying) what they were taught.
Factors that impact memory
How we learn and remember does not decline with age directly, but rather with what age does to your brain. As we get older, some natural wear and tear happens within your brain, meaning that your brain cells (neurons) cannot always function as well as they used to.5f
You may also become more susceptible to diseases that impact brain health. 5a
There are multiple diseases that are more common in older age that can impact your ability to think clearly.
Just like muscles become weaker from lack of use, brain power declines if you do not keep you brain active.5a
Not getting enough sleep can impair the way you function.6a Your ability to function worsens the longer you go without sleep.
An unhealthy diet has a negative impact on your body in general and can impair memory.5c
Lack of exercise
While it is well known that an active body facilitates an active mind, scientists suspect that the opposite may also hold true – an inactive body (lack of or too little exercise) may contribute to an inactive mind. 5b, 7a
5 Ways to sharpen and protect your mind
1. Keep learning
Simply doing mental exercises can reduce your chance of memory loss by 30-50%. Mental exercises can include anything from reading a book to learning a new language.5d, 6b, 8a
2. Stay social
A study conducted of ‘SuperAgers’ in their 80s found that their memory was comparable to people in their 50s-60s. This was linked to a higher participation in social activities such as visiting friends, doing volunteer work and generally going out more. 9a, 9b
3. Be physically active
From exercise to household chores, remaining physically active can maintain and improve strength, increase energy levels, improve balance, prevent other diseases, and boost your mood.6c
4. Eat healthy foods
Eating healthily reduces the risk of many chronic diseases and gives your brain the nutrition it craves. Include lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and fish. Try to avoid or limit foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt.6d
5. Try a supplement
If you feel your brain is not functioning as well as it could, or if you are going through one of those phases where you are asking a lot of your brain, add a supplement. It may give your brain a boost.
How KeenMind supports memory
If you need help retaining and remembering information KeenMind is the answer for you. (can rephrase, take out the may) KeenMind is a natural medicine clinically proven to support memory, concentration and learning retention.
Keenmind contains the specific standardised extract CDRI 08 from the plant Bacopa monnieri (also known as Brahmi or Bacopa). Tested in 6 clinical trials as well as numerous pre-clinical studies, this extract supports memory, concentration and learning retention and continues to be the subject of ongoing research.10-16
Please note: This is educational information only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on memory, consult your healthcare professional.
⦁ Very Well Mind. What is memory and how does it work? Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-memory-2795006 Accessed September 2018.
⦁ The Human Memory. Memory Encoding. Available at: http://www.human-memory.net/processes_encoding.html Accessed September 2018.
⦁ The Human Memory. Memory Storage. Available at: http://www.human-memory.net/processes_storage.html Accessed September 2018.
⦁ The Human Memory. Memory Recall/Retrieval. Available at: http://www.human-memory.net/processes_recall.html Accessed September 2018.
⦁ Better Health Channel. Healthy ageing – stay mentally active. Available at: ⦁ https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/healthy-ageing-stay-mentally-active⦁ Accessed June 2018.
⦁ National Institute on Aging. Cognitive health and older adults. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults Accessed June 2018.
⦁ Wheeler MJ, et al. Alzheimers Dement (N Y) 2017;3(3):291–300.
⦁ Stanford Medicine. Study on preventing memory loss in seniors seeks participants. Available at: http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2010/03/study-on-preventing-memory-loss-in-seniors-seeks-participants.html Accessed August 2018.
⦁ National Institute on Aging. “SuperAgers” show possible new link between social engagement, cognitive health. Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/superagers-show-possible-new-link-between-social-engagement-cognitive-health Accessed June 2018.
⦁ Stough C, et al. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2001;156(4):481-484.
⦁ Stough C, et al. Phytotherapy Res 2008;22(12):1629-1634.
⦁ Downey LA, et al. Phytother Res 2013;27(9):1407-1413.
⦁ Roodenrys S, et al. Neuropsychopharmacology 2002;27(2):279-281.
⦁ Benson S, et al. Phytother Res 2014;28(4):551-559.
⦁ Raghav S, et al. Indian J Psychiatry 2006;48(4):238-242.
⦁ Cognitive Health Omnibus Survey, 2017.