Not too long ago, I wrote a post that I called The Addled Mind. It basically dealt with distractedness or absent-mindedness, which is certainly related to memory. So, when I saw a notification of a TED Talk titled, How your memory works - and how forgetting is totally OK, I was interested enough to click.
The actual presentation of the 22 minute video is less than 7.5 minutes, and that is followed by questions and answers which take another 15 minutes. Both are worth listening to IMO, but I know blog time is fleeting time, so this link will also pull up the transcript which will likely get you through the material more quickly if you wish.
To speed you on your way, here are a few snippets. I like the memory hook (or analogy) of The Ugly Sister (a few points down the list). It helps me to understand a little of what is going on when we can't come up with a name.
Our brains are not designed to remember people's names, to do something later or to catalogue everything we encounter. These imperfections are simply the factory settings. Even in the smartest of heads, memory is fallible.[Using her personal experience of not remembering whether she has just driven over a bridge she explains that] The number one reason for forgetting what someone said, the name of a person you just met, where you parked your car and whether you already drove over a really big bridge is lack of attention. (She uses a personal experience of not remembering if she had just drive over a bridge.)
[Sometimes we can't find a word, and] we often come up with a loosely related word instead, something similar in sound or meaning. These obliquely related words are rather unfortunately called the ugly sister of the target.
Here's an example. I recently asked my boyfriend, "What's the name of that famous surfer? Lance? No, it's not Lance." He knew who I was talking about, but he couldn't come up with it either. We were both stumped. And turns out my blurting out the wrong name set my boyfriend's brain to Lance Armstrong, the ugly sister. Now, he was stuck in the wrong neural neighborhood and couldn't get out.
The ugly sister also explains this phenomenon. Much later, once you've stopped trying to find the word, it suddenly bubbles to the surface, seemingly out of nowhere. Yes, that's it. Why does that happen? By calling off the hunt, your brain can stop perseverating on the ugly sister, giving the correct set of neurons a chance to be activated.
One thought from the Q&A section (in my words), which you can also listen to or read:
What can help your brain? It isn't crosswords because that mainly involves remembering what we already know, but it is exercise, learning new things, and getting enough sleep. (Oops, I think I'm in trouble.) Don't neglect learning new thing, because the older brain can definitely still do that.
Note: Thanks for asking if I'm okay. I am. I know that I post frequently, so it might seem odd when I miss a few. I haven't had much to say for a few days, and I don't have an overriding compulsion to post unless I do have something in mind. However, I know that it seems like it, and I confess that I do sometimes post anyway out of habit. lol