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Tastes from our past can spark memories, trigger pain or boost wellbeing. Here’s how to embrace food nostalgia

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/megan-lee-490875">Megan Lee</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/doug-angus-1542552">Doug Angus</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-simpson-1542551">Kate Simpson</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p>Have you ever tried to bring back fond memories by eating or drinking something unique to that time and place?</p> <p>It could be a Pina Colada that recalls an island holiday? Or a steaming bowl of pho just like the one you had in Vietnam? Perhaps eating a favourite dish reminds you of a lost loved one – like the sticky date pudding Nanna used to make?</p> <p>If you have, you have tapped into <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02699931.2022.2142525">food-evoked nostalgia</a>.</p> <p>As researchers, we are exploring how eating and drinking certain things from your past may be important for your mood and mental health.</p> <h2>Bittersweet longing</h2> <p>First named in 1688 by Swiss medical student, <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/44437799">Johannes Hoffer</a>, <a href="https://compass.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spc3.12070">nostalgia</a> is that bittersweet, sentimental longing for the past. It is experienced <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2008.00595.x">universally</a> across different cultures and lifespans from childhood into older age.</p> <p>But nostalgia does not just involve positive or happy memories – we can also experience nostalgia for <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2F0022-3514.91.5.975">sad and unhappy moments</a> in our lives.</p> <p>In the <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">short and long term</a>, nostalgia can positively impact our health by improving <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0025167">mood</a> and <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">wellbeing</a>, fostering <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0017597">social connection</a> and increasing quality of life. It can also trigger feelings of <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">loneliness or meaninglessness</a>.</p> <p>We can use nostalgia to <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0025167">turn around a negative mood</a> or enhance our sense of <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000817">self, meaning and positivity</a>.</p> <p>Research suggests nostalgia alters activity in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/17/12/1131/6585517">brain regions associated with reward processing</a> – the same areas involved when we seek and receive things we like. This could explain the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352250X22002445?via%3Dihub">positive feelings</a> it can bring.</p> <p>Nostalgia can also increase feelings of loneliness and sadness, particularly if the memories highlight dissatisfaction, grieving, loss, or wistful feelings for the past. This is likely due to activation of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352250X22002445?casa_token=V31ORDWcsx4AAAAA:Vef9hiwUz9506f5PYGsXH-JxCcnsptQnVPNaAGares2xTU5JbKSHakwGpLxSRO2dNckrdFGubA">brain areas</a> such as the amygdala, responsible for processing emotions and the prefrontal cortex that helps us integrate feelings and memories and regulate emotion.</p> <h2>How to get back there</h2> <p>There are several ways we can <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/2006-20034-013.html">trigger</a> or tap into nostalgia.</p> <p>Conversations with family and friends who have shared experiences, unique objects like photos, and smells can <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352250X23000076">transport us back</a> to old times or places. So can a favourite song or old TV show, reunions with former classmates, even social media <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2015/3/24/8284703/facebook-on-this-day-nostalgia-recap">posts and anniversaries</a>.</p> <p>What we eat and drink can trigger <a href="https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/QMR-06-2012-0027/full/html">food-evoked nostalgia</a>. For instance, when we think of something as “<a href="https://theconversation.com/health-check-why-do-we-crave-comfort-food-in-winter-118776">comfort food</a>”, there are likely elements of nostalgia at play.</p> <p>Foods you found comforting as a child can evoke memories of being cared for and nurtured by loved ones. The form of these foods and the stories we tell about them may have been handed down through generations.</p> <p>Food-evoked nostalgia can be very powerful because it engages multiple senses: taste, smell, texture, sight and sound. The sense of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09658211.2013.876048?casa_token=wqShWbRXJaYAAAAA%3AqJabgHtEbPtEQp7qHnl7wOb527bpGxzIJ_JwQX8eAyq1IrM_HQFIng8ELAMyuoFoeZyiX1zeJTPf">smell</a> is closely linked to the limbic system in the brain responsible for emotion and memory making food-related memories particularly vivid and emotionally charged.</p> <p>But, food-evoked nostalgia can also give rise to <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hpja.873">negative memories</a>, such as of being forced to eat a certain vegetable you disliked as a child, or a food eaten during a sad moment like a loved ones funeral. Understanding why these foods <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02699931.2022.2142525?casa_token=16kAPHUQTukAAAAA%3A9IDvre8yUT8UsuiR_ltsG-3qgE2sdkIFgcrdH3T5EYbVEP9JZwPcsbmsPLT6Kch5EFFs9RPsMTNn">evoke negative memories</a> could help us process and overcome some of our adult food aversions. Encountering these foods in a positive light may help us reframe the memory associated with them.</p> <h2>What people told us about food and nostalgia</h2> <p>Recently <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hpja.873">we interviewed eight Australians</a> and asked them about their experiences with food-evoked nostalgia and the influence on their mood. We wanted to find out whether they experienced food-evoked nostalgia and if so, what foods triggered pleasant and unpleasant memories and feelings for them.</p> <p>They reported they could use foods that were linked to times in their past to manipulate and influence their mood. Common foods they described as particularly nostalgia triggering were homemade meals, foods from school camp, cultural and ethnic foods, childhood favourites, comfort foods, special treats and snacks they were allowed as children, and holiday or celebration foods. One participant commented:</p> <blockquote> <p>I guess part of this nostalgia is maybe […] The healing qualities that food has in mental wellbeing. I think food heals for us.</p> </blockquote> <p>Another explained</p> <blockquote> <p>I feel really happy, and I guess fortunate to have these kinds of foods that I can turn to, and they have these memories, and I love the feeling of nostalgia and reminiscing and things that remind me of good times.</p> </blockquote> <p>Understanding food-evoked nostalgia is valuable because it provides us with an insight into how our sensory experiences and emotions intertwine with our memories and identity. While we know a lot about how food triggers nostalgic memories, there is still much to learn about the specific brain areas involved and the differences in food-evoked nostalgia in different cultures.</p> <p>In the future we may be able to use the science behind food-evoked nostalgia to help people experiencing dementia to tap into lost memories or in psychological therapy to help people reframe negative experiences.</p> <p>So, if you are ever feeling a little down and want to improve your mood, consider turning to one of your favourite comfort foods that remind you of home, your loved ones or a holiday long ago. Transporting yourself back to those times could help turn things around.<img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/232826/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/megan-lee-490875">Megan Lee</a>, Senior Teaching Fellow, Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/doug-angus-1542552">Doug Angus</a>, Assistant Professor of Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-simpson-1542551">Kate Simpson</a>, Sessional academic, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/bond-university-863">Bond University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/tastes-from-our-past-can-spark-memories-trigger-pain-or-boost-wellbeing-heres-how-to-embrace-food-nostalgia-232826">original article</a>.</em></p>

Mind

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What’s the difference between memory loss and dementia?

<p dir="ltr">When it comes to memory loss, it's normal to become a little more forgetful as we age. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, it’s important to know the difference between a standard level of memory loss, and the early signs of dementia. </p> <p dir="ltr">Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) say it is crucially important to distinguish between the physical decline of ageing, and the more sinister reality of cognitive decline. </p> <p dir="ltr">Associate Professor Simone Reppermund from the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing says, “As we age, we get more frail, and it may be difficult to walk longer distances or to have the range of motion to drive a car.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“But that's unrelated to cognitive decline, and this is where dementia or cognitive impairment comes in. A person with dementia at some point will not be able to do the things they once could do without thinking, such as drive a car, because they get confused and are no longer able to process the sensory information required to do this.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Prof. Brodaty went on to say that some cognitive decline is part of normal ageing.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we age, we become slower in our processing speed. We’re not as good at remembering things, particularly when they’re not able to be logically sorted and connected.”</p> <p dir="ltr">But it’s not all bad for older folks, as some things are known to improve with age.</p> <p dir="ltr">“As we age our vocabulary improves, our judgement improves, our ability to organise things improves. In everyday tests where we can sort, say, 10 grocery items into different categories, we do just as well as the younger person because we can use those strategies to compensate. There is also evidence that we become wiser as we get older.”</p> <p dir="ltr">According to <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Dementia Australia</a>, it’s when people encounter difficulties with the following on a regular basis that there could be some underlying cognitive cause worth investigating. </p> <p dir="ltr">These difficulties include:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble remembering recent events</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble finding the right word</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble remembering the day and date</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Forgetting where things are usually kept</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Trouble understanding written content or a story on television</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Difficulty following conversations in groups</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Problems handling finances</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Difficulty with everyday activities</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Losing interest in activities that were previously enjoyable</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">Researchers and medical experts say that even if encountering these difficulties has not become a huge hurdle, it is important to be assessed by a doctor. </p> <p dir="ltr">Some conditions can cause symptoms similar to illnesses of cognitive decline, and can be reversed and prevented if caught early enough. </p> <p dir="ltr">While Professor Brodaty says there is no cure for most types of dementia and no known way to prevent it, we can certainly delay the onset of it. </p> <p dir="ltr">“There are certain risk factors that make it more or less likely to develop cognitive decline and dementia, including physical and social inactivity. Being inactive, not engaging in social activities, a poor diet and too much alcohol are all risk factors.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Even then, Professor Brodaty says, “it’s never too late to start, and never too early to start” making changes that maintain and protect your brain health into old age.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Mind

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“May her memory be a blessing”: Father of Hamas victim speaks out

<p>The grieving father of a 23-year-old German-Israeli woman, Shani Louk, who was kidnapped from the Nova music festival by Hamas militants on October 7, has shared his devastation after it was confirmed that his daughter had been found dead. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the discovery and identification of Shani Louk's body on Monday.</p> <p>Louk was attending the festival in southern Israel when Hamas breached the border between Gaza and Israel, leading to a series of tragic events. However, her father, Nissim Louk, remembers his daughter as someone who was enjoying herself "until the last moment".</p> <p>"Until about 6.45pm, Shani was still dancing, cheering, and going wild at the party and was surrounded by all her best friends — and they had fun all night," he told the Israeli news outlet, N12. He emphasised that she was killed instantly and didn't suffer. Just ten minutes earlier, she was still immersed in the festival's joy.</p> <p>“She was killed on the spot and not only did she not suffer, 10 minutes earlier she was still enjoying herself.”</p> <p>Mr Louk also criticised the government's response, calling it a failure. He claimed that the government ministries underestimated the situation, were unresponsive, and failed to take adequate measures. He pointed out the responsibility of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the events and expressed his discontent with the government's handling of the situation.</p> <p>Shani Louk was kidnapped at the festival and subjected to torture and captivity by Hamas terrorists. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that she "experienced unfathomable horrors", and expressed their condolences, saying, "May her memory be a blessing."</p> <p>The attack by Hamas militants on the festival was a horrifying event. They blocked off access to the festival site from both the north and the south before storming the area on foot. Videos from the site showed them encircling the crowds on three sides, leading to casualties and chaos.</p> <p>Shani's mother, Ricarda Louk, revealed that she last spoke to her daughter after hearing rockets and alarms sounding in southern Israel. She called to ensure her daughter's safety, and Shani informed her that she was at the festival with few places to hide. Her abduction occurred as she was trying to reach her car, with military personnel preventing people from leaving the scene.</p> <p>The tragedy at the Nova festival was immense, with more than 260 bodies found at the site by Israeli rescue service Zaka. However, based on CNN's analysis, the total death toll could be even higher. Additionally, a number of hostages were taken to Gaza during the attack, with the latest figures indicating that up to 239 hostages are believed to be held by Hamas in the enclave.</p> <p>In a glimmer of hope amidst the tragedy, a female Israeli soldier who had been kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 was released during ground operations in Gaza, as confirmed by the Israel Defence Forces. The soldier received medical attention, is in good health, and has been reunited with her family.</p> <p><em>Images: CNN / N12</em></p>

Caring

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Can a daily multivitamin improve your memory?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacques-raubenheimer-1144463">Jacques Raubenheimer</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/au/topics/research-check-25155">Research Checks</a> interrogate newly published studies and how they’re reported in the media. The analysis is undertaken by one or more academics not involved with the study, and reviewed by another, to make sure it’s accurate.</em></p> <hr /> <p>Don’t we all want to do what we can to reduce the impact of age-related decline on our memory?</p> <p>A new study suggests a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is a simple and inexpensive way to help older adults slow the decline in some aspects of memory function.</p> <p>The <a href="https://ajcn.nutrition.org/article/S0002-9165(23)48904-6/fulltext">new study</a>, which comes from a <a href="https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02422745?term=NCT02422745&amp;draw=2&amp;rank=1">long-running clinical trial</a>, shows there may be a small benefit of taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement for one type of cognitive task (immediate word recall) among well-functioning elderly white people. At least in the short term.</p> <p>But that doesn’t mean we should all rush out and buy multivitamins. The results of the study don’t apply to the whole population, or to all types of memory function. Nor does the study show long-term benefits.</p> <h2>How was the study conducted?</h2> <p>The overarching COSMOS study is a well-designed double-blind randomised control trial. This means participants were randomly allocated to receive the intervention (a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement) or a placebo (dummy tablet), but neither the participants nor the researchers knew which one they were taking.</p> <p>This type of study is considered the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5654877/">gold standard</a> and allows researchers to compare various outcomes.</p> <p>Participants (3,562) were older than 64 for women, and 59 for men, with no history of heart attack, invasive cancer, stroke or serious illness. They couldn’t use multivitamins or minerals (or <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2216932120">cocoa extract</a> which they also tested) during the trial.</p> <p>Participants completed a <a href="https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04582617?term=NCT04582617&amp;draw=2&amp;rank=1">battery of online cognitive tests</a> at the start of the study (known as baseline), then yearly for three years, of which only three were reported in this paper:</p> <ul> <li> <p>ModRey, measuring immediate recall. Participants were shown “a list of 20 words, one at a time, for three seconds each,” and then had to type the list from memory</p> </li> <li> <p>ModBent, measuring object recognition. Participants were given 20 prompts with a shape and then had to select the correct match from a pair of similar prompts. After this, they were prompted with 40 shapes in turn, and had to indicate whether each was included in the original 20 or not</p> </li> <li> <p>Flanker, measuring “executive control”. Participants had to select a coloured block that corresponded to an arrow in a matrix of arrows, which could have the same (or different) colour to the surrounding arrows, and the same (or different) direction as the prompt block.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>What did the researchers find?</h2> <p>Of all the tests the researchers performed, only immediate recall (ModRey) at one year showed a significant effect, meaning the result is unlikely to just be a result of chance.</p> <p>At two and three years, the effect was no longer significant (meaning it could be down to chance).</p> <p>However they added an “overall estimate” by averaging the results from all three years to arrive at another significant effect.</p> <p>All the effect sizes reported are very small. The largest effect is for the participants’ immediate recall at one year, which was 0.07 – a value that is <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jpepsy/article/34/9/917/939415">generally considered very small without justification</a>.</p> <p>Also of note is that both the multivitamin and placebo groups had higher immediate word recall scores at one year (compared to baseline), although the multivitamin group’s increase was significantly larger.</p> <p><a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/epdf/10.1073/pnas.2216932120">In the researchers’ prior study</a>, the increase in word recall scores was described as a “typical learning (practice) effect”. This means they attributed the higher scores at one year to familiarisation with the test.</p> <p>For some reason, this “learning effect” was not discussed in the current paper, where the treatment group showed a significantly larger increase compared to those who were given the placebo.</p> <h2>What are the limitations of the study?</h2> <p>The team used a suitable statistical analysis. However, it did not adjust for demographic characteristics such as age, gender, race, and level of education.</p> <p>The authors detail their study’s major limitation well: it is not very generalisable, as it used “mostly white participants” who had to be very computer literate, and, one could argue, would be quite well-functioning cognitively.</p> <figure class="align-center "><figcaption></figcaption>Another unmentioned limitation is the advanced age of their sample, meaning long-term results for younger people can’t be assessed.</figure> <p>Additionally, the baseline diet score for their sample was abysmal. The researchers say participants’ diet scores “were consistent with <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1899558">averages from the US population</a>” but the cited study noted “the overall dietary quality… [was] poor.”</p> <p>And they didn’t measure changes in diet over the three years, which could impact the results.</p> <h2>How should we interpret the results?</h2> <p>The poor dietary quality of the sample raises the question: can a better diet be the simple fix, rather than multivitamin and mineral supplements?</p> <p>Even for the effect they observed, which micronutrient from the supplement was the contributing factor?</p> <p>The researchers speculate about vitamins B12 and D. But you can find research on cognitive function for any arbitrarily chosen <a href="https://www.centrum.com/content/dam/cf-consumer-healthcare/bp-wellness-centrum/en_US/pdf/lbl-00000775-web-ready-centrum-silver-adults-tablets-(versio.pdf">ingredient</a>, including <a href="https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&amp;as_sdt=0%2C5&amp;q=selenium+cognitive+function">selenium</a>, which can be <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969720378608">toxic at high levels</a>.</p> <h2>So should I take a multivitamin?</h2> <p><a href="https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/08/should-you-take-dietary-supplements">Health authorities advise</a> daily multivitamin use isn’t necessary, as you can get all the nutrients you need by eating a wide variety of healthy foods. However, supplementation may be appropriate to meet any specific nutrient gaps an individual has.</p> <p>Using a good quality multivitamin at the recommended dose shouldn’t do any harm, but at best, this study shows well-functioning elderly white people might show some additional benefit in one type of cognitive task from using a multivitamin supplement.</p> <p>The case for most of the rest of the population, and the long-term benefit for younger people, can’t be made.</p> <hr /> <h2>Blind peer review</h2> <p><strong>Clare Collins writes:</strong></p> <p>I agree with the reviewer’s assessment, which is a comprehensive critique of the study. The key result was a small effect size from taking a daily multivitamin and mineral (or “multinutrient”) supplement on memory recall at one year (but not later time points) and is equivalent to a training effect where you get better at taking a test the more times you do it.</p> <p>It’s also worth noting the study authors received support and funding from commercial companies to undertake the study.</p> <p>While the study authors state they don’t believe background diet quality impacted the results, they didn’t comprehensively assess this. They used a brief <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22513989/">diet quality assessment score</a> only at baseline. Participants may have changed their eating habits during the study, which could then impact the results.</p> <p>Given all participants reported low diet quality scores, an important question is whether giving participants the knowledge, skills and resources to eat more healthily would have a bigger impact on cognition than taking supplements. <img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208114/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /></p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jacques-raubenheimer-1144463">Jacques Raubenheimer</a>, Senior Research Fellow, Biostatistics, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/can-a-daily-multivitamin-improve-your-memory-208114">original article</a>.</em></p>

Body

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Probing false memories: what is the Mandela Effect?

<p>How is it possible to think you’re sure about something, only to learn that your memory’s let you down, and you were wrong all along? False memories can be so convincing that we never think to question their veracity. Denise Cullen investigates this odd, and little-understood, phenomenon.</p> <div class="copy"> <p>Imagine learning about a famous person’s death, watching footage of the funeral, and listening to the eulogies – then, decades later, finding out that this person had been alive all along.</p> <p>This was the scenario confronting Fiona Broome in 2009 when she shared her memory online, then subsequently learnt that Nelson Mandela was still alive.</p> <p>Broome, a paranormal researcher, had a distinct memory of the human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner dying in prison in the 1980s.</p> <p>“I thought I remembered it clearly, complete with news clips of his funeral, the mourning in [South Africa], some riots in cities and the heartfelt speech by his widow,” she wrote on her website, in a post since removed.</p> <p>As history records, Mandela died aged 95 – a free man and revered former South African president – in 2013.</p> <p>“Recall is a more active and effortful process than mere recognition.”</p> <p>Broome would have been willing to chalk it up to a glitch in her memory. But after ­discovering that many others shared the same memory, she decided it was instead a glitch in the matrix – a sign consistent with the many-worlds theory of quantum physics that there was a parallel universe in which Mandela had, indeed, died in prison in the 1980s.</p> <p>Since then, many other examples of what’s become known as the Mandela Effect – or shared false memories – have emerged.</p> <p>Common examples include that Rich Uncle Pennybags – aka the Monopoly Man – wears a monocle (he doesn’t), that Pokémon character Pikachu has a black-tipped tail (it’s yellow) and that there’s a hyphen in KitKat (there isn’t).</p> <p>Geographically, some folks swear that there are 51 or 52 states in the United States (there are 50) or that New Zealand is located north-east of Australia (it’s south-east).</p> <p>Cinematic examples include the Evil Queen in <em>Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs</em> saying “Mirror, mirror on the wall” (it’s actually “Magic mirror on the wall”). And who can forget the chilling moment in <em>The Silence of the Lambs</em> when Hannibal Lecter first meets Agent Starling and says, “Hello Clarice”? Thing is, it never happened.</p> <p>Misremembering the finer details related to board game mascots, fictional characters or logos might sound inconsequential. Yet the Mandela Effect has spawned a fertile field of psychological research seeking to uncover why people develop false memories – and why, when they do, they are along much the same lines.</p> <p>Wilma Bainbridge, who works in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, has been interested in the workings of human memory since she and others discovered that people are surprisingly consistent in what they remember, forget and make false memories about.</p> <p>In 2011, Phillip Isola and some of his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) identified that memorability was a stable property of an image shared across different viewers.</p> <p>Presenting at the annual Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), they built one of the first computer vision systems that sought to predict the memorability of different images.</p> <p>They also provided some of the first glimmers that low-level visual attributes of an image – such as its bright colours, or distinctive edges – cannot alone account for its memorability. Similarly, aesthetics (visual appeal), interest (how likely people are to be drawn to or interact with an image) or saliency (the area which draws people’s eye focus first) are insufficient to unlock the keys to memorability.</p> <p>"[There is a] tendency for people to con­sistently misremember characters or logos from popular culture – things that were, in fact, designed to be memorable."</p> <p>While completing her PhD at MIT, Bainbridge, Isola and MIT colleague Aude Oliva drew on a 10,168-image database of facial photographs to see if the same intrinsic memorability was found in human faces.</p> <p>Their research, published in the <em>Journal of Experimental Psychology</em>, found that some faces were consistently remembered or forgotten – and that this couldn’t be fully explained by attractiveness or other perceived character traits such as ‘trust­worthy’ or ‘boring’.</p> <p>Bainbridge says it was Isola’s paper in 2011 and hers in 2013 that launched the burgeoning field of memorability. Since then, 845 scientific papers have cited the two papers.</p> <p>Currently on maternity leave after having twin girls, Bainbridge told me via email that she was originally inspired to probe the visual Mandela Effect because of how pervasive discussions were online about people having the same false memories. But no memory research had then investigated this intriguing phenomenon.</p> <p>In a recent article in <em>Psychological Science</em>, Bainbridge and her colleague at The University of Chicago, Deepasri Prasad, explored the visual Mandela Effect for the first time.</p> <p>This is the tendency for people to con­sistently misremember characters or logos from popular culture – things that were, in fact, designed to be memorable.</p> <p>Over a series of experiments – using icons such as the Monopoly Man, Pikachu, Curious George, the Volkswagen logo and Waldo from <em>Where’s Waldo</em> – they provided the first experimental confirmation that the visual Mandela Effect exists. (<em>Where’s Waldo?</em> is known as <em>Where’s Wally?</em> in Australia. The discrepancy isn’t an example of the Mandela Effect. It arose because publishers believed ‘Waldo’ would better ­resonate with North Americans.)</p> <p>In the first experiment, they presented 100 adults with images of 22 characters, 16 brand logos and two symbols, and made two altered images of each.</p> <p>“Even though we’ve all lived different lives, there are some pictures that most people remember and some pictures that most people forget,”</p> <p>For instance, they modified Curious George by adding a thin tail in one image and a bushy tail in the other.</p> <p>Research participants viewed all three images and had to choose the correct one.</p> <p>The results indicated that seven out of the 40 images elicited shared – and specific – false memories.</p> <p>In the second experiment, they used eye-tracking methods to see if there were differences in the way participants looked at the images they correctly identified, versus those they got incorrect.</p> <p>“We found no attentional or visual differences that drive this phenomenon,” Prasad and Bainbridge wrote.</p> <p>In the third experiment, the researchers scraped the top 100 Google Image results for each of the seven images to see if previous exposure to non-canonical (incorrect) versions might explain it. But they concluded that there was “no ­single unifying account for how prior perceptual experiences could cause these visual false memories – which had previously elicited the visual Mandela Effect – to occur”.</p> <p>The fourth experiment involved having participants draw the images, given that recall is a more active and effortful process than mere recognition.</p> <p>Some participants viewed the canonical (correct) images prior to being required to reproduce them, while others, who’d flagged that they were already familiar with the images, did not.</p> <p>One-fifth of all images drawn by the former group, and about half of those drawn by the latter group, showed characteristic Mandela-Effect-type errors. For example, the Monopoly Man frequently appeared with a monocle, while Waldo was often depicted sans cane.</p> <p>The common production of such errors during both short- and long-term recall suggests there’s something intrinsic to these images that leads to people generating the same sorts of fallacies – but Bainbridge says that researchers are only just beginning to probe what that might be.</p> <p>Her laboratory is concerned with broader questions about why some images are intrinsically memorable.</p> <p>“Even though we’ve all lived different lives, there are some pictures that most people remember and some pictures that most people forget,” she explains.</p> <p>Interestingly, when people view an image, high-level visual and memory areas in their brains show a sensitivity to its memorability – regardless of whether they consciously remember seeing it or not.</p> <p>Several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, including one conducted by Bainbridge and her colleague Jesse Rissman of the University of California Los Angeles and published in <em>Scientific Reports</em>, have demonstrated distinctive brain activation patterns (neural signatures) when memorable images are viewed.</p> <p>These processes take place outside conscious awareness, suggesting they occur automatically.</p> <p>Humans aren’t alone in this, with research led by Nicole Rust at the University of Pennsylvania and published in <em>eLife</em> in 2019 identifying similar patterns in rhesus monkeys who completed visual memory tasks.</p> <p>In a 2022 paper published in <em>Computational Brain &amp; Behavior</em>, Bainbridge and her then University of Chicago master’s student Coen Needell wrote that they had developed a deep learning neural network that can predict people’s memories.</p> <div> <p align="center"> </p> <p>“We’ve recently developed a web tool called ResMem using deep learning artificial intelligence where you can upload an image and it will tell you the per cent chance someone will remember that image,” Bainbridge says. “Anyone can try it out with their own photos.”</p> <p>Recent work shows that the images people remember or forget can even be used to identify early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>Research published by Bainbridge and colleagues in <em>Alzheimer’s &amp; Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment &amp; Disease Monitoring</em> in 2019 found that a small, specific set of images reliably differentiated people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or subjective cognitive decline (SCD) from healthy controls.</p> <p>Using data drawn from the DZNE-Longitudinal Cognitive Impairment and Dementia Study (DELCODE), an observational, longitudinal memory clinic–based study across 10 sites in Germany, Bainbridge and colleagues analysed the memory performance of 394 individuals.</p> <p>Each participant viewed a randomly selected subset of 88 photographs from a total pool of 835.</p> <p>The performance of 193 healthy controls was compared to 136 participants with SCD – elderly individuals who self-report a decline in cognitive abilities but don’t yet meet clinical thresholds – and 65 participants with MCI: elderly individuals who show early clinical signs of cognitive decline, but are not yet at the level of Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>(Bainbridge notes that Alzheimer’s disease is more severe than MCI, which is more severe than SCD; however, it is possible to have MCI or SCD and never end up developing Alzheimer’s disease.)</p> <p>The researchers found that there was a lot of overlap in what the different groups remembered and forgot.</p> <p>However, there was a small subset of images that were highly memorable to healthy controls, but highly forgettable to those with mild cognitive impairment or subjective cognitive decline.</p> <p>A subset of as few as 18.3 images could distinguish between the two groups.</p> <p>In this way, the intrinsic memorability of images might ultimately pave the way towards quicker, easier and more reliable diagnostic tests of precursors to Alzheimer’s disease.</p> <p>The study of false memories also has weighty implications for criminal defence, given that some people might be wrongfully identified as suspects just because their faces cause false memories more easily.</p> <p>Though this research is not the focus of Bainbridge’s laboratory, work in this area is continuing, with the promise of some yet-to-be-published data suggesting that these more diagnostic images also better tap into the underlying brain pathology in those with MCI.</p> <p>“We’re now interested in creating a neural network tool that can predict your chance of making­ a false memory to an image – and then, theoretically, you could make images that cause lots of false memories,” Bainbridge explains. “These next steps are still in very early stages, though, and sadly, we don’t really have anything yet [on what features may prompt false memories],” she says. One goal of the research is to make the neural network tool available to any scientist who wants to study what makes something cause false memories.</p> <p>Bainbridge’s research on memorability has potential applications for further research as well as education, which may be enriched, for example, with textbook images or ­infographics that are more likely to stick in students’ minds. The findings are also likely to enhance clinical practice, given that memory problems are the most common cognitive deficits in dementia.</p> <p>Bainbridge says those experiencing dementia typically benefit as a result of specially designed environments or tools to aid their memory – for example, memorable cues to help them remember to take essential medication.</p> <p>The study of false memories also has weighty implications for criminal defence, given that some people might be wrongfully identified as suspects just because their faces cause false memories more easily.</p> <p>“You’d want to make sure to control for that when choosing a line up,” Bainbridge says.</p> <p>“It’s pretty amazing to think about how our brains can build up vivid memories of images that don’t really exist and that we’ve never seen before.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em><img id="cosmos-post-tracker" style="opacity: 0; height: 1px!important; width: 1px!important; border: 0!important; position: absolute!important; z-index: -1!important;" src="https://syndication.cosmosmagazine.com/?id=250856&amp;title=Probing+false+memories%3A+what+is+the+Mandela+Effect%3F" width="1" height="1" loading="lazy" aria-label="Syndication Tracker" data-spai-target="src" data-spai-orig="" data-spai-exclude="nocdn" /></em><em><a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/people/behaviour/probing-the-mandela-effect/">This article</a> was originally published on <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com">Cosmos Magazine</a> and was written by <a href="https://cosmosmagazine.com/contributor/denise-cullen/">Denise Cullen</a>. </em></div> </div>

Mind

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7 things you should pass on to your grandkids

<p>No one wants to think about what will happen when they’re no longer around, but thoughtfully choosing what to leave to your family will ensure your memory endures long after you’re gone. Here are the 10 things you should pass on to your grandchildren to help them remember you as you always were.</p> <ol> <li><strong>Your passport(s)</strong> – What better token of your life is there than a chronicle of all the incredible places you’ve visited? Your passports will inspire those you love to pack up their bags and follow in your footsteps.</li> <li><strong>Your wedding album</strong> – By passing on your beloved wedding photos, long after you and your partner are gone, your love story will continue to inspire generations after you – and maybe offer some style ideas to vintage-loving brides-to-be in your family!</li> <li><strong>Something belonging to your parents</strong> – If you have an old possession that used to belong to a parent, grandparent or even great-grandparent, giving it to your grandchildren will ensure their ancestors will live on through future generations.</li> <li><strong>Something sentimental</strong> – Photo albums are all well and good, but passing on something you love, which is truly special to you, will always remind your grandchildren of you. Just imagine their smiles as they look down on a watch or ring gifted to them by their beloved nan or pop.</li> <li><strong>A photo of the first time you met them</strong> – Who could forget the first time they meet their newborn grandchild? Share this moment with them and write on the back of the photo just how you felt when you held them for the first time.</li> <li><strong>Your favourite music, books, and movies</strong> – There’s nothing like music to bring back memories of people and places. Fill a bag (or load a USB) with your all-time favourite songs, books and movies so your family will always have something to lift their spirits when they’re feeling down.</li> <li><strong>Stories</strong> – while possessions are great, stories and memories are what will endure for decades after you’ve gone. Any chance you get, share a memory or a story with your loved ones, whether it’s about your life or theirs, and get a conversation going.</li> </ol> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Retirement Life

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9 ways to exercise your brain

<p>While many people can say they are dedicated to keeping their bodies in shape, exercising applies to more than just the muscles, bones and fat in our bodies. We should all be working out the neural pathways and connections in our brains too. So whether you’re trying to get your brain back into shape or you just want to keep it as strong as it is now, below are some top tips on how to help exercise your mind to good health.</p> <p><strong>1. Read as much as you can</strong></p> <p>Whether it’s a newspaper, magazine or book, reading is a fantastic basic brain exercise. Remember, the more challenging the reading material is the more of a workout you are giving your brain. Like with any new exercise regime, start small and work your way up to a level that you find challenging.</p> <p><strong>2. Learn new words</strong></p> <p>Increasing your vocabulary is a great way to exercise the language portion of your brain. A word-of-the day calendar is a great way to ensure you keep on top of this throughout the year.</p> <p><strong>3. Put pen to paper (not fingers to a keyboard)</strong></p> <p>From fictional stories to keeping a journal, writing is a good workout for the brain, as it requires lots of thinking. A study published in the Human Brain Mapping journal found that both planning and writing a story by hand combines handwriting and cognitive writing processes, which are predominantly associated with memory and integrating information from diverse sources.</p> <p><strong>4. Do puzzles</strong></p> <p>Easy to fit into your daily schedule, simple puzzles like crosswords and Sudoku help to get your brain doing some basic work, while more complex puzzles will give your brain a stronger workout. So although more complicated puzzles may take days to solve and complete, they’re worth the effort as these types of games can help keep you sharp, as well as slow memory loss and mental decline.</p> <p><strong>5. Switch to your non-dominant hand</strong></p> <p>While this might sound like an odd one, switching to your non-dominant hand from time to time has been shown to stimulate the parts of the brain that control your muscles. Experts also say that using your other hand helps your brain to better integrate its two hemispheres.</p> <p><strong>6. Get talking</strong></p> <p>For a basic brain workout, get chatting! Next time you catch up with family or friends try talking about more challenging topics (such as politics, religion etc.) where you engage in deep discussion – without arguing. It’s a great way to keep your mind active while having fun, get to know others better and to share your thoughts.</p> <p><strong>7. Back to school</strong></p> <p>Education has obvious benefits and going back to school is a great way to get your brain working again, to challenge yourself and to do something satisfying. You don’t have to sign up for a whole degree, there are many free short courses as well as certificate courses that you can do online.</p> <p><strong>8. Eat well</strong></p> <p>Just like with the body, when you exercise you need to give your brain the right fuel so it operates at optimal health. The Open Training Institute says, “Skipping breakfast can reduce thinking skills by 40 per cent, as your brain is starved of that much needed sugar hit”. Furthermore, certain foods are good for improving brain function like dark chocolate, which increases blood flow to the brain increasing alertness and clarity. “Blueberries for example pack a powerful punch of antioxidants and can improve memory, while green leafy veggies and fresh herbs are full of vitamin K, which improves cognitive function.”</p> <p><strong>9. Exercise</strong></p> <p>Being active doesn’t only keep your body healthy it can also make you more alert. The Open Training Institute says, “Low-intensity exercise like yoga or walking can dramatically reduce sleepiness, amp up energy levels and attention span.” And the benefits of keeping active don’t stop there. “More intensity can even improve cognitive function by five to 10 per cent.”  </p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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Short naps can improve memory

<p>Rather than distracting you from the task at hand, naps can improve your memory function, a new sleep study has found.</p> <p>Scientists at the Saarland University in Germany have found that taking a 45 to 60 minute power nap can boost a persons’ memory by up to five-fold.</p> <p>The study, published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, showed participants 90 words and 120 unrelated word pairs. The group was then split into two: one group took a nap and the other group watched a DVD.</p> <p>When the participants were tested again, the group who had napped were able to remember the words as accurately as they could after they learn them.</p> <p>Professor Axel Mecklinger, who supervised the study, said: “A short nap at the office or in school is enough to significantly improve learning success. Wherever people are in a learning environment, we should think seriously about the positive effects of sleep.”</p> <p>He added: “Even a short sleep lasting 45 to 60 minutes produces a five-fold improvement in information retrieval from memory.”</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.co.nz/health/mind/2015/12/positive-thinking-and-mental-health/"><strong>Can positive thinking improve your mental health?</strong></a></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.co.nz/health/mind/2015/12/health-benefits-of-turmeric/"><strong>Turmeric boosts mood and mind</strong></a></em></span></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><a href="http://www.oversixty.co.nz/health/mind/2015/12/definition-of-happiness-changes-with-age/"><strong>Your definition of happiness changes with age</strong></a></em></span></p>

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Fun ways to boost memory in seniors

<p dir="ltr">Memory issues can seriously deteriorate the quality of life for seniors. To reverse the typically progressive process of memory loss, many solutions have been put forward. These include creative leisure activities aimed to work on the senior’s brain while providing relaxation.</p> <p dir="ltr">To work on a senior’s memory, it’s optimal to have them work on a project, focusing and seeing the work being done. There are plenty of games and activities available to help memory.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Paint by Numbers</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Paint by Numbers is a creative art form that involves painting a pre-drawn sketch on a linen canvas with reference numbers. It helps stimulate the intellect and senses. They’re available in colour books as well, you can find them at your local Kmart and select supermarkets.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Diamond painting</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Diamond painting is a manual activity where the senior creates beautiful pictures using rhinestones to stick onto a self-adhesive canvas. It calls for concentration, reflection, memorisation, and patience from the practitioner, which is beneficial for working on memory.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Scratch painting</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Scratch painting is a fun activity that involves scratching a picture with a coin or stylus, like a lottery scratch-off. It requires interest and concentration from the individual, who will enjoy the final picture and benefit their memory.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Music therapy</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Music therapy is used to treat and alleviate disorders, such as relational, behavioural, and communication difficulties. It also has benefits for seniors with memory problems, as it allows them to mobilise concentration, emotions, and memory in a playful way.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-70e6c7d1-7fff-2c54-f0e3-9408829a216a"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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9 medical reasons your short-term memory is getting worse

<p><strong>What is short-term memory?</strong></p> <p>Short-term memory is the type of memory you need to accomplish your immediate goals, explains Dr Patrick Lyden, chair of the department of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. That may be working your way through tasks during the workday, remembering someone’s name, email, or phone number, or recalling where you tossed your keys when you got home.</p> <p><strong>Where is it located in the brain?</strong></p> <p>When someone rattles off their phone number, you file it away in brain circuits that include the hippocampus (your memory centre) and the amygdala (your emotional hub). Depending on how important the short-term memory item may be (your address, someone you call all the time), it can be converted into long-term memory, says Dr Lyden.</p> <p><strong>How does short-term memory work?</strong></p> <p>Short-term memory isn’t just about being able to quickly recall new info; there are three phases. “You have to register the information, store the information, and retrieve the information,” says Dr Lyden. Registering means that you’re paying attention in the first place. Storing the info means you’ve filed it away in your brain. Retrieval is the ability to access the memory again. Any of these steps can break down, he says.</p> <p><strong>Is your memory okay?</strong></p> <p>Many people assume they have a memory problem when the explanation is something else entirely, says Dr Lyden. Maybe you’re not paying attention because you’re gazing at your phone or texting, for example. The first step to figuring out if something is going on is to “pay closer attention,” he says. Repeat the new information three times to commit it to memory.</p> <p><strong>When it may be time to worry</strong></p> <p>If you can’t pass the “pay attention test” despite repeating the information, your next step, advises Dr Lyden, is to determine if your problem is storing new memories or retrieving them. If you’re having a problem remembering a new acquaintance’s name, ask them to give you three choices – like Carrie, Lauren, or Janet. If your problem is storing new memories, you won’t be able to remember. But if your problem is retrieval, you’ll remember that her name is Janet once you hear the correct name.</p> <p>Having trouble with retrieving a short-term memory isn’t as serious as being unable to store them. “The storage problem is a serious problem, and you should see a neurologist,” he says.</p> <p><strong>Inactivity</strong></p> <p>Blood flow is good for your brain – it keeps it young. “Exercising boosts blood flow to your brain. If you stay active, you’ll have a better memory,” says Dr Daniel G. Amen, author of <em>Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most</em>. Dr Lyden suggests daily exercise and it doesn’t have to be intense. “A one-kilometre run daily is better than a 10-kilometre run one day a week,” he says.</p> <p><strong>Substance abuse</strong></p> <p>According to Dr Amen, marijuana a toxin that impairs memory. “Marijuana lowers every area of the brain and ages it. On average, pot smokers have brains three years older than non-smokers,” he says. Alcohol abuse can also harm your memory.</p> <p><strong>Mental health conditions</strong></p> <p>People tend to miss their own depression. But if you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, or chronic stress, get help or your memory can also pay the price. “These conditions may all hurt the brain,” says Dr Amen. Getting relief will not only improve your life and outlook but save your brain.</p> <p><strong>Lack of sleep</strong></p> <p>When considering short-term memory loss causes, poor sleep is a big one. “If you don’t sleep seven hours a night or more, you’ll be in trouble. Your brain cleans itself at night. When you don’t get enough, it’s like the garbage collectors didn’t come to clean up,” says Dr Amen.</p> <p><strong>Dementia</strong></p> <p>Before you panic, there’s some good news: “The vast majority of people who are healthy will not have a degenerative neurological condition causing short-term memory loss,” says Dr Lyden. But dementia or Alzheimer’s is a possibility in some groups. If you’re over 60 and have risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity, then you may be more prone to problems and need to be evaluated, he says.</p> <p><strong>Medication</strong></p> <p>If you lead a healthy lifestyle, eat right, exercise, and go easy on alcohol and other substances that can harm memory, yet you still feel like your memory if failing, talk to your doctor about your medications – prescription and over-the-counter, advises Dr Lyden. Cholesterol drugs, painkillers, high blood pressure pills, and sleeping pills are among the drugs that can trigger memory issues.</p> <p><strong>Hypothyroidism</strong></p> <p>When you have an under-active thyroid, everything in your body runs slower. Your digestion will slow and you can become constipated; cell growth slows and can lead to hair loss; your metabolism becomes sluggish, triggering weight gain. And you may be plagued by muddied thinking or forgetfulness. Often, medication to restore thyroid hormones can help alleviate symptoms and help you feel better all over.</p> <p><strong>A poor diet</strong></p> <p>Inflammation is bad for your body and your brain. “The higher the inflammation levels in your body, the worse your memory will be,” says Dr Amen. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet, like the Mediterranean diet, and avoiding foods that increase it (highly processed foods, loads of sugar) is key. He also recommends taking fish oil and probiotics.</p> <p><strong>Lyme disease</strong></p> <p>Lyme disease is transmitted through a tick bite, and causes early symptoms like fever, chills, headache, and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Later on, without treatment, some people also may notice short-term memory problems. Dr Amen points out this may include trouble with attention, focus, and organisation. Keep in mind that the types of tick that carry the bacteria are not native to Australia and it’s not likely you can catch Lyme disease in Australia.</p> <p><strong>When to seek help</strong></p> <p>Along with the self-test mentioned earlier, think about how you perceive your short-term memory. Ask yourself: Is it getting progressively worse? Is it worse than 10 years ago? Are other people noticing a problem? “Those are things you should take seriously,” says Dr Amen.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/healthsmart/9-medical-reasons-your-short-term-memory-is-getting-worse-2?pages=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Mind

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6 natural ways to improve your memory

<p>It’s a common concern that as we age our mind will start to slip, and the first thing to go can be your memory. But there are some easy, natural things you can do to keep your brain sharp, no matter how old you are.</p> <p><strong>1. Sleep!</strong></p> <p>This has to be the most-simple memory-boosting trick of all. Everyone has found himself or herself forgetful, irritable or fuzzy after a poor night’s sleep. That’s because your body uses sleep time to restore brain function and solidify the connections between neurons, which will help you remember more of your tasks. Aim for at least seven hours a night, though you’ll be pleased to know that naps also count towards your total. To ensure a good night’s sleep, stick to a regular bedtime schedule, don’t use your gadgets in bed and avoid stimulants (like coffee) in the evening. You should wake up feeling bright, refreshed and ready to face the day.</p> <p><strong>2. Jog your memory, literally</strong></p> <p>Physical exercise is great for your whole body, including your brain. Every time you perform a physical activity your brain’s massive neural network is stimulated. Raising your heart rate gets more blood flowing to your brain, enlarges the hippocampus (the most vital part of the brain for memory), and increases the secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein necessary for long-term memory. Work out in the morning to spike your brain activity and prepare yourself for the mental stresses of the day. Look for exercises that combine coordination with cardiovascular activity, such as dance classes, to really stimulate your brain.</p> <p><strong>3. Find your inner Zen</strong></p> <p>Meditation has been proven to improve memory and overall brain function. Research has shown that it can actually change the physical structure of the brain, such as a thickening of the cerebral cortex through improved blood flow. The cortex is responsible for important brain functions like concentration, learning and memory. Meditating regularly can delay cognitive decline and prevent neurodegenerative diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. And it’s easy to do at home – there are plenty of apps that will take you through guided meditations to suit any mood or time of day. Or you can simply take some time out to take deep breaths, focus on your breathing and clear your mind.</p> <p><strong>4. Puzzle it out</strong></p> <p>Essentially, the brain is like any other muscle – you need to use it to keep it in top form. Mentally stimulating games like Sudoku, crosswords or chess will improve your cognitive function and keep your memory sharp. Keep your brain engaged with stimulating activities, like learning a language or instrument, or test yourself by taking on new challenges. Working your brain like this stimulates the short term memory and, once the cellular machinery is in motion, it will keep working on your long term memory.</p> <p><strong>5. You are what you eat</strong></p> <p>A varied diet with plenty of antioxidant rich vegetables, colourful fruits and lean protein will have a positive impact on your brain, but there are also number of foods that have been shown to directly improve brain function. Oily fish like salmon or sardines are rich in omega 3 DHA, a fatty acid that’s essential for brain performance and memory. Eggs are a great source of choline, an important nutrient used to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid, another type of omega 3. Turmeric has also been shown to reduce inflammation and can reduce the plaque on the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s.</p> <p><strong>6. Have fun</strong></p> <p>Laughter and love can be two of the most enjoyable ways to improve your memory. Both release oxytocin and dopamine (the happy hormones) and reduce the presence of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Excess cortisol can damage the hippocampus and eventually impair learning and memory. Studies have shown that children retain more information when learning in a fun, playful atmosphere as opposed to a stressful one. So have a laugh with your friends, hug your partner or put on that classic comedy – it’s good for you!</p> <p><strong>Related links:</strong></p> <p><a href="/health/mind/2016/04/ways-to-make-decisions-when-indecisive/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>Are you indecisive? Here are 6 ways to help you make decisions</strong></em></span></a></p> <p><a href="/health/mind/2016/04/tips-to-being-more-assertive/"><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>4 tips to be more assertive</strong></span></em></a></p> <p><a href="/health/mind/2016/03/benefits-of-cultivating-mindfulness-in-your-life/"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>10 benefits of cultivating mindfulness in your life</strong></em></span></a></p>

Mind

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Sleepless nights can affect your memory

<p>One-third of a life span is a massive slice of time to spend with our eyes closed, but there's a very good reason humans need so much sleep.</p> <p>We just don't know what it is.</p> <p>What does sleep do to our brains? Like a sleep-deprived student trying to muddle through a morning exam, scientists trying to unravel this enduring mystery have been labouring in a heavy fog.</p> <p>But a new study could help answer this fundamental question, suggesting those hours of slumber allow the brain to rewire the crucial connections between the brain's neurons that clog up when we're awake.</p> <p>This nightly reset is vital for building and preserving memory, as well as our ability to learn new skills and engage with our waking realities, according to the German researchers.</p> <p>But just one sleepless night may be all it takes to stop the brain's ability to recalibrate its connections, overloading its synaptic activity and ultimately hampering its ability to form and retain new memories, according to the research paper published on Wednesday in <strong><em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><a href="http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/ncomms12455" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Nature Communications</a></span></em></strong>.</p> <p>The researchers set out to test the "synaptic homeostasis hypothesis" that a good night's sleep allows the brain's neuron signals to cut through the chaotic "noise" and improve its capacity to encode, or remember, new information.</p> <p>It is virtually impossible directly test this theory in humans.</p> <p>Using non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), the research team was able to indirectly compare the synaptic activity in the brains of 20 individuals (aged between 19 and 25) after one night's sleep or after one night of sleep deprivation.</p> <p>The research team used small magnetic pulses to zap the motor cortex - the region responsible for movement - to trigger a muscle twitch in participant's left hands.</p> <p>After their sleepless night, participants needed a much lower pulse to activate the hand muscles compared their well-rested counterparts, suggesting their sleep-deprived brains were more excitable, said the researchers lead by psychiatrists Dr Christoph Nissen at Freiburg University, Germany.</p> <p>The researchers then used the magnetic pulses to imitate the brain activity used to encode new memories. The sleep-deprived participants showed a weaker synaptic response and performed worse in a word-pair memory exercise.</p> <p>Their blood samples also showed reduced BDNF, a molecule that regulates synaptic plasticity needed for memory and learning.</p> <p>"Our study provides the first evidence for sleep-wake-dependent dissociation of associative and homeostatic synaptic plasticity in humans," the researchers concluded.</p> <p>The results may pave the way for effective treatments for neuropsychiatric disorders.</p> <p>There is some evidence the experimental treatment - therapeutic sleep deprivation - can improve mood among people with major depression.</p> <p>The findings suggest the therapy shifts the brain of a depressed patient "into a more favourable window of associative plasticity", the authors suggested.</p> <p>Overall, "the findings were a significant step towards a better understanding of basic mechanisms for health performance and potential alterations in neuropsychiatric disorders," they concluded.</p> <p>What’s the minimum amount of sleep you can survive on before your cognitive performance is affected? Let us know in the comments below.</p> <p><em>Written by Kate Aubusson. First appeared on <a href="http://Stuff.co.nz" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Stuff.co.nz.</span></strong></a></em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Body

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Why does music bring back memories? What the science says

<p>You’re walking down a busy street on your way to work. You pass a busker playing a song you haven’t heard in years. Now suddenly, instead of noticing all the goings on in the city around you, you’re mentally reliving the first time you heard the song. Hearing that piece of music takes you right back to where you were, who you were with and the feelings associated with that memory.</p> <p>This experience – when music brings back memories of events, people and places from our past – is known as a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0251692">music-evoked autobiographical memory</a>. And it’s a <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735619888803">common experience</a>. </p> <p>It often occurs as an <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721410370301">involuntary memory</a>. That is, we make no effort to try to recall such memories, they just come to mind spontaneously. </p> <p>Research has recently begun to uncover why music appears to be such a good cue for invoking memories. First, music tends to accompany many distinctive life events, such as proms, graduations, weddings and funerals, so it can play an important role in reconnecting us with these <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/S1041610215000812">self-defining moments</a>.</p> <p>Music also often captures our attention, due to the way it affects our <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-power-of-our-song-the-musical-glue-that-binds-friends-and-lovers-across-the-ages-73593">minds</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/rhythm-on-the-brain-and-why-we-cant-stop-dancing-56354">bodies</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-sad-songs-say-so-much-to-some-people-but-not-others-65365">emotions</a>. </p> <p>When music draws our attention, this increases the likelihood that it will be encoded in memory together with details of a life event. And this then means it is able to serve as an effective cue for remembering this event years later.</p> <h2>Positive memories</h2> <p>In <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jarmac.2021.09.002">recent research</a> my colleague and I found that the emotional nature of a piece of music is an important factor in how it serves as a memory cue. </p> <p>We compared music with other emotional memory cues that had been rated by a large group of participants as conveying the same emotional expression as the music excerpts we used. This included comparing music with “emotional sounds”, such as nature and factory noises and “emotional words”, such as “money” and “tornado”.</p> <p>When compared with these emotionally matched cues, the music didn’t elicit any more memories than the words. But what we did find was that music evoked more consistently positive memories than other emotional sounds and words. This was especially the case for negative emotional stimuli. Specifically, sad and angry music evoked more positive memories than sad and angry sounds or words. </p> <p>It seems then that music appears to have the ability to reconnect us with emotionally positive moments from our pasts. This suggests that using <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-researchers-are-turning-to-music-as-a-possible-treatment-for-stroke-brain-injuries-and-even-parkinsons-171701">music therapeutically</a> may be particularly fruitful. </p> <h2>How and when</h2> <p>The familiarity of a piece of music also, perhaps unsurprisingly, plays a role. In <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/17470218221129793">another recent study</a>, we found that more familiar music evokes more memories and brings memories to mind more spontaneously. </p> <p>So part of the reason music may be a more effective cue for memories than, for instance, our favourite film or favourite book, is that we typically reengage with songs more often over our lifetimes compared to films, books or TV shows.</p> <p>The situations when we listen to music may also play a role. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511575921">Previous research</a> shows that involuntary memories are more likely to come back during activities where our mind is free to wander to thoughts about our past. These activities tend to be non-demanding in terms of our attention and include things like commuting, travelling, housework and relaxing. </p> <p>These types of activities align almost perfectly with those recorded in another study where we asked participants to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735619888803">keep a diary</a> and note when music evoked a memory, along with what they were doing at the time it happened. We found that daily activities that often go hand in hand with listening to music – such as travelling, doing chores or going for a run – tend to lead to more involuntary memories in the first place.</p> <p>This contrasts with other hobbies, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1525/mp.2021.38.5.435">such as watching TV</a>, which can require our mind to be more focused on the activity at hand and so less likely to wander to scenarios from our past. </p> <p>It seems then that music is not only good at evoking memories but also the times when we are more likely to listen to music are the times when our minds may <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-your-brain-decides-what-to-think-198109">naturally be more likely to wander</a> anyway.</p> <p>Music is also present during many life events that are distinctive, emotional or self-defining – and <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-your-brain-decides-what-to-think-198109">these types of memories</a> tend to be more easily recalled. </p> <p>Indeed, the power of music to connect us with our past shows how music, memories and emotions are all linked – and it seems certain songs can act as a direct line to our younger selves.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-does-music-bring-back-memories-what-the-science-says-197301" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Music

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3 ways your brain changes with ageing

<p dir="ltr">Your entire body changes when you age, including your brain, which is responsible for everything. Regardless of your physical or neurological health, there is such a thing as “cognitive ageing.” It happens to the best of us!</p> <p dir="ltr">So, what are these changes? </p> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation"><strong>1. Processing speed</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">This refers to how quickly the brain can process information and provide a response. Processing speed affects almost every function in the brain, and it’s measured by how quickly you can manage a mental task. </p> <p dir="ltr">How it changes with ageing: </p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">It decreases over time.</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">The decrease starts in early adulthood, so by the time you reach your 70s and 80s, your processing speed is significantly down compared to the speed you once had in your 20s. </p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. Memory</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Memory is complex, and there’s different kinds of memory, but these are the functions that you’ll notice changes in as you age:</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Working memory, the ability to hold information and manipulate it mentally, declines </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Episodic memory, the ability to remember personally experienced events at a certain plane or time, declines </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Prospective memory, the ability to remember to do things in the future, declines</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. Attention</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The ability to concentrate and focus on something specific so that information can be mentally processed changes. </p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Selective attention, the ability to focus on something specific despite distractions or irrelevant stimuli, declines</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Divided attention, also known as “multi-tasking”, declines</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Sustained attention, the ability to remain concentrated on one task for an extended period of time, declines</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Can anything be done?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Unfortunately, there is no way to combat cognitive ageing, but there are things you can do to keep your brain healthy, which in turn will help keep you sharp.</p> <ul> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Adequate sleep</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Proper nutrition</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Stimulate your brain with crosswords, sudoku or brain training apps </p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Speak to people every day</p> </li> <li dir="ltr" aria-level="1"> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">Read more</p> </li> </ul> <p dir="ltr">The longer you wait to help keep your brain healthy, the harder it becomes for your brain to remember things. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p>

Mind

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Olivia Newton-John's daughter's emotional memorial tribute

<p>Olivia Newton-John’s daughter Chloe Lattanzi has delivered an emotional speech at her mother’s memorial service, saying she “feels like a little girl”.</p> <p>Almost six months after her death at the age of 73, Newtown-John was remembered at a star-studded service at Hamer Hall in Melbourne.</p> <p>She passed away on August 8, 2022, after battling breast cancer for three decades.</p> <p>Newtown-John’s husband John Easterline spoke at the beginning of the service followed by his daughter’s emotional tribute.</p> <p>“My heart is broken in two. The other half is with my Mumma,” Lattanzi said with tears.</p> <p>“I know she is holding it for me until we meet again. I stand here before you so desperately wanting to feel strong and confident and speak eloquently. But the truth is, I feel like a little girl lost without her mother.</p> <p>“She was my safe space, my guide, my biggest fan and the Earth beneath my feet.”</p> <p>Lattanzi also said she knew her mother was “standing beside her” and could hear her voice telling her not to be afraid.</p> <p>The grieving daughter mentioned her and her mother had the same “cackle,” and revealed although her mother would never tell a dirty joke, she would “laugh the hardest at them”.</p> <p>“I loved making her tea and then making it five times again until I got it right. I loved our snuggles. I would crawl into bed with her late at night even until I was 20 years old. I loved the way that she smelled,” Lattanzi said.</p> <p>“I loved writing music and singing with her and how she would always notice if I was slightly off-key.</p> <p>“She cherished her friends and her family and she was so grateful to her fans and she loved you all so dearly. She would want us all to laugh and reminisce together, enjoy and celebrate her life.”</p> <p>Aussie singer and actress Delta Goodrem broke down at Newtown-John’s memorial service as she was giving a speech about how the late actress was so special to her.</p> <p>“It’s beautiful to see everybody,” Goodrem said as she was interviewed at Hamer Hall in Melbourne, ahead of a moving performance.</p> <p>“It’s beautiful,” Goodrem continued, flooded with emotion. “Sorry.”</p> <p>“I’m so happy to see everybody coming together on a day to celebrate someone who touched all of our lives,” she said when asked why she was so emotional. “I think that’s really what it is.”</p> <p>In a video shown at Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, Dolly Parton said, "The world lost one of its greatest talents when Olivia left us.”</p> <p>Nicole Kidman also paid tribute, saying that Newton-John was "just a light in the world" and that growing up, she "wanted to be Olivia Newton-John.”</p> <p>Some of the other celebrities and friends who paid tribute to Newtown-John during the service included Hugh Jackman, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, RuPaul, Pink and Sir Elton John.</p> <p>Image credit: Getty</p>

Family & Pets

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Grease star's emotional tribute to Olivia ahead of state memorial

<p>It's been six months since Olivia Newton-John passed away, breaking hearts of entertainment lovers everywhere. </p> <p>Now, her celebrity friends and family have begun arriving in Melbourne for her state memorial on Sunday, with thousands of fans joining to pay their respects. </p> <p>Among those sharing fond memories of Australia's sweetheart is Olivia's long-time friend and <em>Grease</em> co-star Didi Conn, who starred as Frenchy alongside Newton-John as Sandy. </p> <p>In an interview with <em>Today Extra</em>, Didi became emotional while reminiscing on a sweet moment from the set of the hit 1978 musical. </p> <p>"It's not good when you can't talk, you know, on a talk show," Conn said as she tried to compose herself.</p> <p>Didi revealed the first scene she filmed with Newton-John, sharing that the Aussie was actually quite nervous, but that was the moment they became great friends.</p> <p>"We were waiting for them to set up the shot and I just looked at her and she was shaking," she said.</p> <p>"I said 'Oh, Sandy, I'm so happy to have a friend from Australia, tell me all about Australia' and she looked at me like 'is this in the script?'"</p> <p>Olivia then cottoned on that Didi was improvising and by the time the cameras started rolling she was much more comfortable thanks to that little bit of help.</p> <p>"When the scene ended, she hugged me and that was the beginning of our friendship," she said.</p> <p>The women shared over 40 years of friendship and she revealed one of the last sweet moments she got to share with her.</p> <p>"I hadn't spoken to her in a couple of months and I called her and she said, 'why haven't we spoken?'," Conn said.</p> <p>Conn had been unwell recently and Newton-John was in hospital with a broken leg.</p> <p>"The next day I received this gorgeous orchid plant, it was beautiful with so many buds," she said.</p> <p>"The day before she left Earth, one of the buds fell down and I thought, oh no, and sure enough, I heard the news."</p> <p>"But her beauty will last forever, in everyone's heart, because she had the biggest heart, she was the most beautiful person."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Paramount Pictures / Today Extra</em></p>

Caring

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How much memory loss is normal with ageing?

<p>You’ve driven home from work along the same route for the past five years. But lately, you’ve been stopping at the same intersection, struggling to remember if you need to turn left or right. </p> <p>Many occasions in everyday life can make us question whether lapses in memory are normal, a sign of cognitive decline, or even the beginning of dementia.</p> <p>Our first instinct might be that it’s due to deterioration in our brains. And it’s true that like the rest of our body, our <a href="https://www.brainfacts.org/thinking-sensing-and-behaving/aging/2019/how-the-brain-changes-with-age-083019#:%7E:text=Neuronal%20Changes,that%20wraps%20around%20axons%20deteriorates">brain cells shrink</a> when we get older. They also maintain fewer connections with other neurons and store less of the chemicals needed for sending messages to other neurons.</p> <p>But not all memory lapses are due to age-related changes to our neurons. In many cases, the influencing factors are more trivial, including being tired, <a href="https://academic.oup.com/acn/article/17/1/57/2143?login=true">anxious</a>, or <a href="https://theconversation.com/its-not-just-doorways-that-make-us-forget-what-we-came-for-in-the-next-room-156030">distracted</a>.</p> <h2>Some forgetfulness is normal</h2> <p>Our memory system is constructed in a way that some degree of forgetting is normal. This is not a flaw, but a feature. Maintaining memories is not only a drain on our metabolism, but too much unnecessary information can slow down or hamper retrieving specific memories. </p> <p>Unfortunately, it’s not always up to us to decide what’s important and should be remembered. Our brain <a href="https://knowablemagazine.org/article/mind/2019/why-we-forget">does that</a> for us. In general, our brain prefers social information (the latest gossip), but easily discards abstract information (such as numbers).</p> <p>Memory loss becomes a problem when it starts to <a href="https://www.dementia.org.au/sites/default/files/2020-06/WAYM-booklet.pdf">affect</a> your typical day-to-day living. It’s not a huge issue if you can’t remember to turn right or left. However, forgetting why you are behind the wheel, where you are meant to be going or even how to drive are not normal. These are signs something may not be right and should be investigated further. </p> <h2>Then there’s mild cognitive impairment</h2> <p>The road between ageing-associated memory loss and the more concerning memory loss is coined as mild cognitive impairment. The degree of impairment can remain stable, improve, or worsen.</p> <p>However, it indicates an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5915285/#R15">increased risk</a> (around three to five times) of future neurogenerative disease such as dementia. Every year, around <a href="https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/related_conditions/mild-cognitive-impairment">10-15%</a> of people with mild cognitive impairment will develop dementia.</p> <p>For people with mild cognitive impairment, the ability to undertake usual activities becomes gradually and more significantly impacted over time. Besides memory loss, it can be accompanied by other problems with language, thinking and decision-making skills. </p> <p>A mild cognitive impairment diagnosis can be a double-edged sword. It affirms older people’s concerns their memory loss is abnormal. It also raises concerns it will develop into dementia. But it can also lead to the exploration of potential treatment and planning for the future. </p> <h2>Losing your way can be an early marker</h2> <p>Impairment in navigation is thought to be an <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582021/#:%7E:text=Patients%20with%20dementias%20such%20as,Cognitive%20Impairment%20syndrome%20(MCI)">early marker</a> for Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have shown the areas that crucially underpin memories for our spatial environment are the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.052587399">first to be affected</a> by this degenerative disease. </p> <p>So, a noticeable increase in occasions of getting lost could be a warning sign of more pronounced and widespread difficulties in the future.</p> <p>Given the predictive link between declines in the ability to find your way and dementia, there is an incentive to develop and use standardised tests to detect deficits as early as possible. </p> <p>Currently, the scientific literature <a href="https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/159073644.pdf">describes</a> varying approaches, ranging from pen-and-paper tests and virtual reality, to real-life navigation, but there is no gold standard yet. </p> <p>A specific challenge is to develop a test that is accurate, cost-effective and easy to administer during a busy clinic day. </p> <p>We have developed a five-minute test that used scene memory as a proxy for way-finding ability. We ask participants to remember pictures of houses and subsequently test their ability to differentiate between the pictures they have learned and a set of new images of houses. </p> <p>We found the test <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acp.3876">works well</a> in predicting natural variations in way-finding ability in healthy young people, but are currently still evaluating the effectiveness of the test in older people. </p> <h2>Get help when your memory lapses are consistent</h2> <p>While everyday memory lapses are not something we should unduly worry about, it is prudent to seek professional health care advice, such as from your GP, when those impairments become more marked and consistent. </p> <p>While there is currently still no cure for Alzheimer’s, early detection will <a href="https://theconversation.com/is-there-really-a-benefit-from-getting-an-early-dementia-diagnosis-59554">allow</a> you to plan for the future and for more targeted management of the disorder.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-memory-loss-is-normal-with-ageing-193217" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

Mind

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Lisa Marie Presley honoured in emotional Graceland memorial

<p>Over a thousand people gathered at the public memorial service in Graceland to remember the life of Lisa Marie Presley on Sunday.</p> <p>Friends and family members have shared their emotional tributes to the late star, as Lisa Marie Presley's eldest daughter was so overwhelmed with emotion that she had her husband, Ben Smith-Petersen, read the touching eulogy on her behalf.</p> <p>“Thank you for being my mother in this life,” the letter began, “I’m eternally grateful".</p> <p>In the letter, she also recalled the sweet memories she had with her late mother while growing up, and revealed that she and her husband have recently welcomed a daughter in private.</p> <p>“Thank you for showing me love is the only thing that matters in this life. I hope I can love my daughter the way you loved me, the way you loved my brother and my sisters,” the letter read in part.</p> <p>She then thanked her mother for all the traits she got from her.</p> <p>Her strength, heart, empathy, and courage are a few mentioned in the list.</p> <p>“I’m a product of your heart, my sisters are a product of your heart, my brother is a product of your heart," she wrote.</p> <p>“I remember you giving me baths as a baby, driving me in my car seat listening to Aretha Franklin … taking me for ice cream after school in Florida,” she reminisced.</p> <p>“I remember you singing to me and my brother lullabies at night, and how you’d lay with us until we fell asleep,” she continued, sharing the sweet memories she also had with her late brother, Benjamin.</p> <p>“I remember how it felt be loved by the most loving mother I’ve ever known. How safe it felt to be in your arms: I remember that feeling as a child and I remember it two weeks ago on your couch".</p> <p>Priscilla Presley also shared a poem titled 'The Old Soul', written by one of her granddaughters.</p> <p>"I have no idea how to put my mother into words. Truth is there are too many,” the poem began.</p> <p>She referred to her mother as "an icon, a role model, and a superhero," and added the Lisa Marie “always knew she wouldn’t be here too long".</p> <p>The 14-year-old then went on to talk about her brother, Benjamin, who died by suicide in July 2020.</p> <p>“Could this be the angel who takes me home? She knew it was close to the end, survivors guilt some would say. But a broken heart was the doing of her death".</p> <p>Priscilla Presley then added her own message to her daughter: "Our hearts are broken. Lisa we all love you".</p> <p><em>Image: Getty/Graceland livestream</em></p>

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‘We are only passing through’: stories about memory, mortality and the effort of being alive

<p>Chris Flynn’s <a href="https://www.uqp.com.au/books/here-be-leviathans">Here Be Leviathans</a> is a collection of short stories that seems quirky and light-hearted, propelled by its creative use of perspective. Each story is established from a surprising vantage point and so the world as Flynn imagines it becomes topsy-turvy – anything at all might be alive and sentient. Animals, chairs, boats, you name it.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Review: Here Be Leviathans – Chris Flynn (UQP) and The Tower – Carol Lefevre (Spinifex)</em></p> <hr /> <p>A bear eats a teenager, and thus inherits the boy’s memories. An airplane seat describes its last day at work. A hotel room observes its favourite couple, who return over the years. A monkey details a trip into outer space. But these stories are driven by more than quirky inspiration.</p> <p>The point-of-view might offer an interesting hook, and Flynn’s tone may be jaunty at times, but the stories are propelled by deeper themes of mortality, death and existential pointlessness. Flynn uses perspective to reflect and question the way we think about things.</p> <h2>Memory and mortality</h2> <p>Many of the characters in this collection die, have died or are about to die – but there’s also a counter-theme of connection. The bear may eat the teenager, and so the ranger is hunting him down; we enter a hide-and-seek game for survival. But it’s the connection the bear and ranger have, the mutual respect they share, that becomes the message of the first story, Inheritance.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=896&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=896&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=896&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1126&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1126&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497560/original/file-20221128-26-5t8y8o.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1126&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>Flynn also explores ideas of memory transference, and this imbues the story with lingering, thoughtful hope: something that pervades the whole collection. In Flynn’s world, death can be a means to existence – as long as our memories keep living, our experiences and perspectives continue to exist.</p> <p>Flynn’s use of unexpected points of view allows him to avoid the sentimental. In 22F, he tells the story of an airplane seat abandoned in the jungle and we’re left with the superb image of moss growing up and over the upholstery, claiming the seat for the natural domain. We learn about the seat’s history, the work-politics of neighbouring seats, and observations of the passengers who have sat in them. We see glimpses of these human cargoes that simultaneously show the banality and profundity of life.</p> <p>The collection took Flynn ten years to write, and he includes notes at the end about his process and the stories’ origins. For instance, he describes how 22F was inspired by the Werner Herzog documentary <a href="https://letterboxd.com/film/wings-of-hope/">Wings of Hope</a>, which interviewed Juliane Koepcke, the sole survivor of a 1971 airplane crash. Together, Herzog and Koepcke journey to the site of the crash and find parts of the airplane in the jungle. Flynn says the story is about:</p> <blockquote> <p>Memory and place. A reminder that we are only passing through and that everything is part of something larger.</p> </blockquote> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497575/original/file-20221128-21-v71muf.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">One of Chris Flynn’s stories is told from the perspective of an airplane seat abandoned in the jungle.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Leslie Cross/Unsplash</span>, <a class="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC BY</a></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The importance of memory and place is further explored in the story A Beautiful and Unexpected Turn, where we follow the perspective of a hotel room that takes a special interest in its guests, Diane and Hector. We see the waxing and waning and waxing of their relationship. At the end, the room says:</p> <blockquote> <p>We are places of passage, of transience […] Eventually, I would be demolished, perhaps to make way for another hotel or an apartment block, or nothing […] I would become rubble, and then dust.</p> </blockquote> <p>This could be the larger message of the book – our lives are transient and then we become dust. The connections we experience and inspire are what give us meaning in the moment.</p> <h2>Complications of care</h2> <p>Carol Lefevre’s <a href="https://www.spinifexpress.com.au/shop/p/9781925950625">The Tower</a> also emphasises place. This thoughtful collection of short stories is very different from Flynn’s in tone and focus, but it too grounds storytelling in the themes of place and mortality.</p> <figure class="align-left zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=928&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=928&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=928&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1166&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1166&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/497573/original/file-20221128-14-p18sux.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=1166&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>The Tower is structured around a series of interlocking narratives about Dorelia MacCraith – in the very first story, after losing her husband Geordie, she sells her house and buys a new one, with a tower. Her children, who she does not consult, are suspicious of this defiant act.</p> <p>Straight away, the reader is thrust into the negotiations and complications of care. People who Dorelia once cared for are now asserting (or trying to assert) forms of reverse care. And many stories in the collection reverberate with related themes – women caring for children and partners and parents, or making decisions about their positions as carers, especially in the context of trying (or deciding not) to have children.</p> <p>The interconnected stories about Dorelia and her tower are the centrepiece of the collection. Yet Dorelia finds this house of her own by accident, when driving her dear friend and fellow artist Elizabeth Bunting to an appointment:</p> <blockquote> <p>they took a wrong turn, and then another, until at the end of the a quiet cul-de-sac, set among sheltering trees, stood the most adorable house […] and above the porch rose a small tower.</p> </blockquote> <p>I appreciate that it is the women’s friendship – their spark of connection and humour are immediate and inviting – that enables Dorelia to find her tower oasis. I also appreciate that this critical act occurs during a moment of generosity and care: Dorelia is driving Elizabeth to an appointment.</p> <p>While Dorelia may find her tower by accident, we never feel Lefevre is accidental in rendering the lives of these women on the page. The prose is carefully controlled, as is the detail and world-building – and the deeper reflections of the stories kaleidoscope through one another, building in nuanced ways.</p> <h2>Reimagining the crone</h2> <p>Of course, symbolic permutations resonate throughout this text – a tower of one’s own harks to <a href="https://theconversation.com/skin-and-sinew-and-breath-and-longing-reimagining-the-lives-of-queer-artists-and-activists-from-sappho-to-virginia-woolf-184459">Virginia Woolf</a> and Rapunzel. Dorelia reimagines the crone from the Rapunzel <a href="https://theconversation.com/reader-beware-the-nasty-new-edition-of-the-brothers-grimm-34537">fairy tale</a> as central and heroic.</p> <p>This rewriting and revision of the crone – and her motives and backstory – seems key to recognising women’s narratives more generally, and prioritising a multiplicity of stories and experiences within the Australian literary canon. In this sense, it feels like Lefevre is in conversation with authors such as Drusilla Modjeska, <a href="https://theconversation.com/intellectual-fearlessness-politics-and-the-spiritual-impulse-the-remarkable-career-of-amanda-lohrey-187354">Amanda Lohrey</a> and Charlotte Wood.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=319&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=319&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=319&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/496662/original/file-20221122-23-obj24f.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=401&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">The main, recurring narrator of The Tower reimagines the crone from the Rapunzel fairytale as central and heroic.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>In <a href="https://theconversation.com/tarot-resurgence-is-less-about-occult-than-fun-and-self-help-just-like-throughout-history-139448">tarot</a> mythology, the card of The Tower considers the collapse of old structures. We get a sense of this in the reflexivity of the text, as well as in its story-world – as Dorelia faces life without her husband Geordie. Indeed, old age itself collapses life as she’s known it. The interplay between the textual and the intertextual resonates in this collection, making this book as enjoyable to later ponder as it was to actually read.</p> <p>Here Be Leviathans and The Tower are two very different short-story collections to consider in tandem. They vary in voice, tone and style. Yet both engage with the precariousness and effort that is at the foundation of being alive, and making meaning from our short time on the planet.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/193628/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/shady-cosgrove-153726">Shady Cosgrove</a>, Associate Professor, Creative Writing, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-wollongong-711">University of Wollongong</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-are-only-passing-through-stories-about-memory-mortality-and-the-effort-of-being-alive-193628">original article</a>.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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