Memory disorders are the result of damage to neuroanatomical structures that hinders the storage, retention and recollection of memories. Memory disorders can be progressive, including Alzheimer’s disease, or they can be immediate including disorders resulting from head injury. Traumatic brain injury often occurs from damage to the brain caused by an outside force, and may lead to cases of amnesia depending on the severity of the injury. Normal aging, although not responsible for causing memory disorders, is associated with a decline in cognitive and neural systems including memory (long-term and working memory). Many factors such as genetics and neural degeneration have a part in causing memory disorders.
How many times have you searched the house for lost car keys – or tried to introduce someone at a party and forgotten their name? If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from a ‘memory slip’.
According to Ian Robinson, professor of psychology at Trinity College, Dublin, this common trait is actually a disorder of attention – rather than memory loss.
‘As we get older, we find it harder to split our attention between several tasks,’ says Professor Robinson. ‘This is because too many thoughts in our head clutter up our memory centre found deep in our brain. When our brain can’t cope it turns off the electricity that fire up our neurotransmitters – substances that send messages to our brain and switches on our memory.’