About ten days ago, I wrote about being so forgetful now that I had gone to the store with only one item in mind and got home with six other things but not the apples I intended.
According to the number of comments, I have a lot of company. I was particularly interested in this idea from three readers:
”My theory is that our minds are like a closet stuffed so full it is hard to find the blouse you are looking for.” - Lisa
“Maybe we 'forget' because our minds are clearing space so we can be more in the present moment...” - Susan
“As my daughter succinctly put it: 'You've got too much flotsam and jetsam up there.' I liken our brains to a sponge - so when it gets supersaturated stuff starts to fall out when it can hold no more. Anyway, that's my theory and I'm sticking with it!” - Lola
They are right, you know, and it's not just me saying so; science has my back. A while agp, I had written about some studies with the same conclusion and can't find it now but I tracked down the information elsewhere online:
”Older people do not decline mentally with age, it just takes them longer to recall facts because they have more information in their brains, scientists believe,” [reports Sarah Knapton, science correspondent for Britain's The Telegraph].
“Much like a computer struggles as the hard drive gets full up, so to do humans take longer to access information, it has been suggested.
Researchers say this slowing down it is not the same as cognitive decline.
“'The human brain works slower in old age,' said Dr. Michael Ramscar, 'but only because we have stored more information over time.
“'The brains of older people do not get weak. On the contrary, they simply know more,'” he says.]”
And here's another interesting thesis to go with that: One of the standard tests for mental capacity may be inadvertently skewed in favor of young people because it asks test subjects to remember unrelated pairs of words such as necktie and cracker.
Prof. Harald Baayen, who heads the Alexander von Humboldt Quantitative Linguistics research group where the work was carried out said: 'The fact that older adults find nonsense pairs harder to learn than young adults simply demonstrates older adults’ much better understanding of language.
“'They have to make more of an effort to learn unrelated word pairs because, unlike the youngsters, they know a lot about which words don’t belong together.'”
These results are preliminary, of course, and need follow-up work but it is nice to think so. And I like that elder intuition was ahead of the researchers.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Janet Thompson: It's St. Paddy's Day and I've Never Forgotten Mavis