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Lost in memory

By Tammy Newman Feb. 15, 2023

Lyn Kang Art

Memory is a crucial component of the human experience, yet studies suggest that people forget over half of the information they learn within one hour. Although it can be frustrating to forget to complete an important assignment or tune into a decisive sports game, the ability to forget is actually instrumental in enabling humans to function the way they do.


While many fear the thought of losing memories, forgetting is not always detrimental. In fact, as reported by Verywell Mind, a health and wellness website, only a select few memories make it to long term memory and are stored there in a simplified form, ensuring that there is enough space left to efficiently store more memories in the future. Forgetting can also be attributed to a phenomenon known as interference. Because some memories compete and interfere with each other, they are gradually forgotten.


According to Psychiatry News, forgetting can actually benefit cognitive and creative abilities that allow the mind to work more efficiently. For example, brains often disassociate when reading for long periods of time to increase focus on the story, which is scientifically considered a branch of memory loss, as claimed by Vice.


Forgetting is also a normal aspect of aging that generally increases from age 65. Help Guide reports that at a certain age, the brain becomes less capable of producing new brain cells, which can lead to remembering less and less.However, there are always ways to reduce memory loss such as training and improving cognitive skills at a young age, remaining physically healthy, consistently getting enough sleep and staying connected with others through social activities.


“I always thought diseases that target memory loss were the most painful. The thought of a family member forgetting my identity is tragic, but it is nice to learn how there is a bright side to everything. If we remembered absolutely everything in our lives, our brains would have to process an unhealthy amount of information,” Junior Parmis Broumandi said.

On the other hand, excessive forgetfulness can often be a sign of a disease or condition that targets memory, such as Alzheimer's or amnesia, especially for older people. According to the National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s—the most common type of dementia—is a disorder that gradually destroys the brain’s memory and cognitive skills to the point that it is unable to carry out simple tasks such as conversing and recognizing faces. Meanwhile, amnesia is the loss of memories that leads to individuals forgetting their own identity, as stated by Mayo Clinic.


Both conditions have varying levels of severity, but for extreme cases, Penn Medicine found that memory loss can stimulate mental health problems such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The loss of memory can also affect patients’ loved ones because in the later stages of memory loss, people may no longer be able to recognize family members or remember the relationships they once had.


As a safety mechanism, the brain can also suppress traumatic or stressful memories according to Medical News. While it can be helpful in the short term, memory suppression is temporary, so those who block out trauma usually end up experiencing painful flashbacks or intrusive thoughts after some time.


“The idea of completely forgetting something is scary, but it is good that the brain is powerful enough to get rid of a memory that is extremely traumatic. I can see how memory suppression could be beneficial momentarily, but therapy is probably the best solution to combat flashbacks when they begin to occur,” Senior Daria Kouzminova said.

Overall, forgetting is a complex phenomenon that plays a crucial role in our lives. Although the idea of memory loss may seem frightening, memories are constantly changing and evolving, and the act of forgetting can be helpful to make room for new memories. By taking steps to reduce memory loss, one’s memories can remain intact for years to come.

 

About the Contributors

Tammy Newman

staff writer



Tammy Newman is a senior at Leland who writes for the school newspaper. During her free time, she loves spending time with her friends and sleeping.








Lyn Kang

Artist



Lyn Kang is a sophomore at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys sleeping, eating, and playing with his friends.


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