How Do Science and Memory Connect?
One way science and memory connect is through the side effects of a medication that may cause memory loss. Another way is through trying to improve memory.
Take Alzheimer’s for example. It is now a well recognized disease that has been under much scientific study. In this disease, memory loss begins when the entorhinal cortex, an area of brain involved in building new memories, loses neurons faster then they are being replaced. The human brain was once thought to have all the brain cells possible at birth. Now science has uncovered the fact that human and primate brains can generate new nerve cells (neurons) after birth. These nerve cells are made in the cerebral cortex throughout the life span. The number of neurons stays fairly constant, but the ones lost in each area are replaced anew. If the production of new ones can’t keep up with those dying or being removed, the brain function begins to decline. Science has found that when the number is reduced by one-third, the short term memory begins to fail, hence Alzheimer’s.
It is thought that certain antioxidants have the ability to significantly delay the effects of Alzheimer’s. In people under the age of 80, the chance of developing this disease could be reduced by 50 percent by taking low doses (200 to 400 mg) of ibuprofen for two or more years. There are also certain activity programs that can delay the progression of the disease. Scientists believe the progression can be delayed by regular exercise.
Lifestyle behaviors must be altered to age in a healthy way. This healthy aging includes retaining healthy memory function. The way one eats, sleeps, drinks, smokes, lacks adequate physical and mental exercise, and allows an overabundance of stress on a regular, long-lasting basis all affect good health.
Illegal use of drugs has long been known to affect memory function. It kills brain cells, as does the long-term overuse of alcohol. Two prescription drugs that have had memory loss as side effects are Prozac and Zoloft. The patients’ symptoms would improve as far as the reason they were put on these drugs, but once memory loss began to develop, the patients would have to be taken off them.
The process of knowing and perceiving is called cognition. Alzheimer’s and disorders related to it all have one thing in common: cognitive impairment. As long as only one symptom exists, the diseases are distinct from each other. If not treated early enough and effectively, other brain areas begin to be affected and the symptoms make it hard to diagnose which disease is present.
One disease similar to Alzheimer’s disease is dementia. There are different types of dementia. There is Parkinson’s Dementia, Frontal-Temporal Lobe Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Subcortical Vascular Dementia, dementia due to head injury, and dementia from cancer and cancer treatment.
One thing is certain, regardless of your reason for memory loss, science and advanced technology are making it easier every day to single out and treat the problem.