Sunday, November 3, 2013

Aging and Labels Recall

Do you have difficulty recalling names? Do you assume that this is because you are getting older? What are you telling your brain? Recently I was speaking for a group of senior citizens (whatever that term really means). During the Q&A the majority of questions related to a perceived failure to readily recall names and labels. I explained that new research showed that some individuals recall labels very quickly which others are much slower. This difference appeared to relate to the use of differing pathways across the corpus callosum, the largest band of horizontal connecting fibers in the brain (and one of several bridges between the right and left hemispheres).  In addition, since the brain wants "congruence," telling yourself that you cannot recall "such and such"  stimulates the brain to search its memory banks for other instances when you could not recall "such and such." This can not only help the individual to believe he or she is really losing it but also may program the brain to stop trying to recall. What you tell yourself is critically important. When I asked several of these individuals whether they had ever had very fast recall of names and labels, the answer was no. As they aged, however, they began to ascribe the slower recall to aging. Stop it! Tell yourself, "I am recalling the information I need to remember," and then be patient while the brain searches for it. When it does give it to you, thank you brain:  "Good job! Thank you!"

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