Memory: Fragile and priceless

A person’s last bastion of privacy is the privacy of his own mind. Take away all the freedom a person has and lock him up. Put that person under surveillance round the clock, and you’ll still have no idea what he is thinking.

That person may be thinking about home, or his loved ones, or the people who put him in chains. Thanks to his memories.

Memory is the ability of an individual to store, maintain and retrieve information from the mind. There are different types of memory: sensory, short-term and long-term memory.

Sensory memory is the initial moment or situation that is felt. This memory is then immediately placed into short-term memory. Short-term memory is characterized as volatile. The duration by which a person will remember in short-term memory is only limited and temporary unless measures are taken to consistently introduce the memory into long-term memory.

Long-term memory is where general and historical events are stored. It is further divided into two kinds: declarative memory and procedural memory.

Declarative memory is memory that requires conscious effort to retrieve. Knowledge of semantics that require abstract knowledge, such as knowing what the capital of California is; and personal experience form this memory, such as remembering what it feels like to fall in love the first time.

Procedural memory is used to learn motor skills. This kind of memory takes advantage of the fact that the human body learns well only through repetition of an action.

In addition, there is a part of memory called working memory. When a mind is working on solving a complex problem and he needs to switch between calculations, the area where other data is stored is called working memory.

Memory has three stages: store, retain and retrieve. Any impairment to any one of the three stages caused the victim to have memory problems.

But memory loss strikes anybody at any age. It can be caused by a wide variety of external and internal factors.

Age is the most well-known cause of memory loss. Old age causes the brain to produce less of the neurons that maintain memory.  The elderly may have difficulty in recall or learning but this is not a problem unless mental disorders are the cause.

Trauma involving the head. Studies show that accidents involving head trauma plays a part in the future loss of memory for its victims.

Cardiac arrest. People with a history of heart attacks have a likelihood of contracting a memory illness in their advanced years. This may be caused by the inability of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body, which may cause the brain to have amyloid deposits.

Stroke. Stroke victims also have a likelihood of a mental disorder in their old age as it affects the body’s ability to filter toxins out of the body.

Smoking. People who smoke have twice as many chances of memory loss due to the increase in production of free radicals in the body. Smoke inhalation also impedes the body’s ability to combat other diseases and increases the likelihood of cancer.

Alcoholism. People who excessively drink alcohol also stand a large chance of memory loss due to the same reasons above as smoking. Alcohol puts a large strain on the liver.

Tumors. Growing tumors can cause pressure on parts of the brain, which bring about amnesia. Surgery usually can fix this problem, easing the pressure.

Drug abuse. Chemical substance abuse has been well-documented in creating memory loss with its abusers in their advanced years, among other problems.

Encephalitis. Illnesses transferred though bodily fluids can cause an infection to the brain that leaves them in a weakened state as the body battles to get rid of the infection. The most common form of encephalitis is Herpes simplex.

Some of these causes of memory loss are under our control and others are not.  Let’s do all we can to protect our memories from harm and protect our priceless individuality.


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