With age, cognitive ability is degenerated, especially episodic memory power. Yet, some people age better than others and faceless memory loss. Based on several kinds of research, they have found making a few lifestyle changes have played a crucial role in maintaining memory performance and cognitive ability in older women.
What is Episodic Memory?
Episodic memory, in simple terms, is the ability to recollect and retrieve information about specific events, times or places from one’s perspective. This memory helps in completing daily tasks and with social interactions. Several parts of the brain work together to maintain and store information that can shape your life and opinions, which is your self-identity.
There are several categories of episodic memory:-
- Specific events: the ability to recall specific circumstances, including the place and time in your life. For example, your first day in school, a wedding ceremony, your spouse’s birthday celebration etc., are personal events that can connect to episodic memory.
- Personal facts about oneself, like your date of birth, first boss’s name, etc., are information that is directly connected to your life.
- Public events may include the feelings involved in a repetitive action. Like going to the zoo, you may not recall the number of times you have visited the zoo but the ability to remember a few sights, the feelings and the perspective associated with it.
- Flashbulb memories are highly detailed and filled with vivid memories or snapshots of the event. For example, emotionally electrified events like your wedding day or a tragic world event like 9/11
Each of these episodic memory types will be different for everyone, even if they all have shared experiences. A decline in recollecting episodic memories is usually the first sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
How are Episodic Memories Formed?
Different parts of the brain take varying steps to form an episodic memory:
- Encoding is the first step, the process where information is sent to the brain. Your senses gather the data from the surrounding environment like a person’s physical structure, colour and built, or a deeper connection to the object like a relationship, its meaning and so on.
- Consolidation of the memories is where the brain processes it, moves it from the short-term memory and ingrains it to various sections. The brain stores it for long-term memory. E.g., the visual impact of human memory is stored in parts of the brain related to vision.
- Retrieval is the final process, where the brain retrieves the information from long-term memory, which can trigger by visual or verbal cues or simply by seeking it. It can be easier for some people while others need some hints to remember.
Lifestyle Modifications to Improve Episodic Memory
- Physical activity: Studies have shown that people who are engaged in physical activities, specifically aerobic exercises, have been identified to have a lower risk of memory loss and heart diseases. The repetitive form of physical activity supports and prevents the decline in hippocampus functioning, reducing cognitive decline. It also aids in improving muscle memory, resulting in a stronger and healthier body.
- Smoking and alcohol consumption: Mild to moderate alcohol consumption is, in fact, beneficial to heart and brain health in reducing the risk of stroke and heart failure. However, smoking tobacco can cause much more damage to brain functioning as it increases inflammation and affects the grey matter.
- Sleep pattern: Proper sleep patterns and duration are necessary for episodic memory care. The studies have found that sleeping for a longer period can cause a delay in recalling memories, retention and learning. Engaging in an 8 to 9-hour sleep and going to bed early can help retain and recall memories faster and delay memory loss.
- Social engagements and interactions: Social engagements help improve the ability to recall and learn new things. These activities need multitasking, attention span, working on complex problems and many more. It helps to stimulate human memory power and can even influence the person to make better lifestyle choices.
- Engaging the brain: Just like our physical body, the brain needs training too. Many brain training apps, and memory games like puzzles and crosswords, can enhance and engage the functioning of the grey matter and delay the onset of brain diseases; like Alzheimer’s, dementia etc.
- Being mindful about the surroundings: Noticing things around you, being aware of and paying attention to small details like colours, smells, etc., can improve the brain function and formation of complete memories. It is a brain-stimulating exercise that can help in recalling events easier.
- Maintaining a healthy diet: Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds rich in omega 3, and berries rich in flavonoids are brain nourishing foods that can improve cognitive ability and prevent memory loss.
- Avoid multitasking: Focusing on a single task is better for memory care as your attention is not divided. It can help with easier encoding and retrieval of information as the brain can focus and associate it with the task.
Apart from ageing and genetic factors, small, significant lifestyle changes like physical and mental exercises, reduced smoking and alcohol consumption, etc., can positively influence long-term memory retention.
What are the 4 types of memory?
The four types of memory include long and short term memory and sensory and working memories. The explicit long-term memory includes episodic memory, which is a recollection of specific personal events, while semantic memory involves memory of the world.
Where is memory stored in the brain?
The hippocampus is in charge of episodic memory or long-term explicit memory. Different types of memories are stored in different parts of the brain – the cerebellum, prefrontal cortex, and amygdala.
How is a memory formed?
It is a very complex procedure and varies according to various types of memories. Once a person processes an event or information, it is passed on to relevant sections of the brain for storage, processing and retrieval.
What are the 3 foods that fight memory loss?
Brain nourishing foods can include green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, nuts and seeds that consist of omega-3, berries like strawberries, and blackberries that contain flavonoids.
What are the symptoms of memory loss?
The first sign of memory loss is repetitive questioning of events in a short period. They cannot recall recent events, person’s name, misplacing items, no recollection of place and date etc.
How can I take care of my brain?
You can take care of your brain by making lifestyle changes like exercising regularly and following a healthy diet, playing memory games and mental exercises that can engage the brain, and social activities that include friends and family.
Does reading improve memory?
Reading helps to focus the brain and stimulates short-term and long-term memory by building new connections of neurons.