Memory and Emotion

So this morning I was thinking about my very poor memory and wondering why, over the past several years, it has been getting worse. For instance, take an event such as following a television program. I recall the episode and what occurred (mostly), but my recollection of the when the episode aired tends to be completely wrong. I might think that it aired at some point the prior season, but my wife would correct me and tell me that it was only two episodes prior--two weeks ago. I am so sure of myself, however, that until my wife proves it sufficiently to me, I stick with my recollection. But it always turns out that she is correct, and of course this bothers me. Not that she's right (she so often is), but that something as simple as watching a television program isn't so simple.

Perhaps this kind of lapse doesn't seem so bad. But when I consider that there are examples beyond merely passively watching a program, I get a little scared. Similar to the first example, I recall various holidays out of sequence--again, time related. I know when the holidays occur, obviously (e.g. December 25 for Christmas, I think), and I recall some things that occurred (e.g. during one Christmas I received a biography of Jean-Jaques Rousseau.) But which Christmas is a mystery. If it wasn't for my wife, who in this respect has a much better memory, there to remind me, I'd be lost.

Now for my idea about why this occurres. I do recall, oddly enough, an article that I had read in Scientific American about how memories are formed. Repetitiveness (e.g. consciously trying to retain facts for, say, an exame) is one way. And simply doing sometime time and again (e.g a routine) which is also repetitive helps to make one form strong memories. But it is strong emotions associated with some event that enable us to form strong memories. And five or six years ago, I was very emotional, with extreme highs and lows. In fact for most of my life until five years ago I suffered with extreme depression and mild manic episodes, and so I my memory was much better. But then I went to see a psychiatrist and I think that's when things changed.

Now, my poor memory could be attributed to aging. I am 41. But I think that the medications prescribed to me from my psychiatrist are the root cause. And this is why. From the time I had been prescribed one of many different kinds over this period, my emotional states were greatly subdued so that I never seemed to get angry, sad, frightened or even happy. My emotions remain at a mostly steady state of, what I like to think, as emotional numbness. So given that emotion plays a strong role in forming memories and my recent lack of emotion, I come to the conclusion that my memory suffers at the cost of emotional stability. Certainly I am no expert, nor have I had time to actually pursue research in this area, but from my extreme laymen point of view, I think I am on to something.

Anyway, I have an interview coming up but I'm not sure when. So I need to consult with my wife. Until next time, ta ta.


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