And you think you have a ‘bad memory’…

Memento film poster

Source: Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Memento_poster.jpg

So many believe they have a ‘bad memory’ when they don’t. All they need is a bit of understanding of how the memory works and guidance on how to get the most out of it. But the memory is an extremely complex cognitive function and damage to certain parts of the brain can trigger rather surprising memory problems…

Anterograde amnesia – no new memories

People who suffer from anterograde amnesia are incapable of remembering events that happen after their amnesia started. Maybe you know the film Memento by Christopher Nolan, it is a good illustration of what happens with anterograde amnesia. The main character’s new experiences don’t lead to new memories. He forgets while things are happening, so he has to take photos and notes of people and events. SPOILER: it doesn’t end well…

Retrograde amnesia – no old memories

When it comes to retrograde amnesia, it is rather events that took place before the amnesia started that are forgotten. This condition is often depicted in films but rarely accurately.

Transient global amnesia – memory trouble that can affect anyone

This surprising phenomenon is characterised by the onset of sudden and transient memory trouble lasting 4 to 7 hours. This type of amnesia results in an inability to make new memories, in other words anterograde amnesia. It is during this state that it is impossible to retain anything: we forget things as they happen (we don’t remember where we are, why we are there, the conversations we are having…). This type of memory trouble can affect anyone. But it is mostly people aged 50 to 80 years old who are affected after a physical effort, stressful experience or even after a change of temperature (often this happens in the morning in the shower). However there is no need to worry about this type pf memory trouble, it is harmless.

Who are you? Or Prosopagnosia

Prosopagnosia is an inability to recognise faces: those who suffer from this type of memory trouble have ‘face blindness’ so cannot identify or memorise human face. If you had this illness you wouldn’t be able to recognise anyone, even those closest to you. So to recognise people in their lives they have to rely on physical characteristics such as hairstyles, make-up, odours or even how people walk…

Many people are reported to suffer from this memory trouble such as the Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and the French actor Thierry Lhermite.

Hyperthymesia: on 17 July 2003 I was…

This is a condition where autobiographical memory, or memory of personal life experiences is excessive. Those suffering from Hyperthymesia retain a monstrous quantity of details in a totally involuntary way such as the meal they ate four years on a specific date. Hyperthymesia is a mentally exhausting burden, not some kind of super power, because of the constant, uncontrollable flow of memories into the mind.

For this article, many thanks go to Laetitia Legoux, specialist in applied cognitive psychology on education technology.

Learn more about the memory

If worried about retaining what you learn, be inspired by extraordinary mental feats by people who have an ordinary memory.Memento film poster” width=”268″ height=”394″ /> Source: Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Memento_poster.jpg[/caption]So many believe they have a ‘bad memory’ when they don’t. All they need is a bit of understanding of how the memory works and guidance on how to get the most out of it. But the memory is an extremely complex cognitive function and damage to certain parts of the brain can trigger rather surprising memory problems…

Anterograde amnesia – no new memories

People who suffer from anterograde amnesia are incapable of remembering events that happen after their amnesia started. Maybe you know the film Memento by Christopher Nolan, it is a good illustration of what happens with anterograde amnesia. The main character’s new experiences don’t lead to new memories. He forgets while things are happening, so he has to take photos and notes of people and events. SPOILER: it doesn’t end well…

Retrograde amnesia – no old memories

When it comes to retrograde amnesia, it is rather events that took place before the amnesia started that are forgotten. This condition is often depicted in films but rarely accurately.

Transient global amnesia – memory trouble that can affect anyone

This surprising phenomenon is characterised by the onset of sudden and transient memory trouble lasting 4 to 7 hours. This type of amnesia results in an inability to make new memories, in other words anterograde amnesia. It is during this state that it is impossible to retain anything: we forget things as they happen (we don’t remember where we are, why we are there, the conversations we are having…). This type of memory trouble can affect anyone. But it is mostly people aged 50 to 80 years old who are affected after a physical effort, stressful experience or even after a change of temperature (often this happens in the morning in the shower). However there is no need to worry about this type pf memory trouble, it is harmless.

Who are you? Or Prosopagnosia

Prosopagnosia is an inability to recognise faces: those who suffer from this type of memory trouble have ‘face blindness’ so cannot identify or memorise human face. If you had this illness you wouldn’t be able to recognise anyone, even those closest to you. So to recognise people in their lives they have to rely on physical characteristics such as hairstyles, make-up, odours or even how people walk…

Many people are reported to suffer from this memory trouble such as the Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, the Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and the French actor Thierry Lhermite.

Hyperthymesia: on 17 July 2003 I was…

This is a condition where autobiographical memory, or memory of personal life experiences is excessive. Those suffering from Hyperthymesia retain a monstrous quantity of details in a totally involuntary way such as the meal they ate four years on a specific date. Hyperthymesia is a mentally exhausting burden, not some kind of super power, because of the constant, uncontrollable flow of memories into the mind.

For this article, many thanks go to Laetitia Legoux, specialist in applied cognitive psychology on education technology.

Learn more about the memory

If worried about retaining what you learn, be inspired by extraordinary mental feats by people who have an ordinary memory.