In his decades of treating patients, Dr. Restak has noticed that fiction requires active engagement with the text, starting at the beginning and working to the end. “You have to remember what the character did on page 3, by the time you get to page 11,” he said.
Beware of technology.
Of Dr. Restak’s three new memory sins, two are associated with technology.
First there is what he calls “technological distortion”. Storing everything on your phone means “you don’t to know said Dr. Restak, which can erode our own mental abilities. “Why bother focusing, concentrating and straining to visualize something when a cell phone camera can do all the work for you?” he wrote.
The second way our relationship with technology is detrimental to memory is that it often distracts our attention from the task at hand. “The biggest obstacle to memory these days is distraction,” Dr. Restak wrote. As many of these tools have been designed with the purpose of creating addiction in the person using them, and as a result, we often get distracted by them. Today, people can check their emails while streaming Netflix, chatting with a friend, or walking down the street. All of this hinders our ability to focus on the present moment, which is essential for encoding memories.
Work with a mental health professional if you need one.
Your mood plays a big role in what you remember or don’t remember.
Depression, for example, can greatly decrease memory. Among “people who are referred to neurologists for memory problems, one of the leading causes is depression,” Dr. Restak said.
Your emotional state affects the type of memories you remember. The hippocampus (or “memory input center”, according to Dr. Restak) and the amygdala (the part of the brain that handles emotions and emotional behavior) are linked – so “when you’re in a bad mood or depressed, you tend to remember sad things,” Dr. Restak said. Treating depression — either chemically or through psychotherapy — also often restores memory.
Determine if there is cause for concern.
Throughout his career, Dr. Restak has been asked by dozens of patients about how to improve their memory. But not all memory lapses are problematic. For example, not remembering where you parked your car in a crowded parking lot is quite normal. forgetting how you come parking in the first place, however, indicates potential memory issues.