Memory Quiz: Why Do We Remember and Forget?

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on December 5, 2018
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Most adults can't remember anything that happened before they were 3 years old.

You might recall one or two events before you were 4, but not much before you were 3. Children begin to identify objects around them (semantic memories) by 10 to 12 months. They remember things that happened earlier in time (episodic memories) by 20 to 24 months. You may not be able to form memories solid enough to survive into adulthood until you can think about what happened in words

True False

Which of the following helps turn short-term memories into long-term memories?

The human sleep cycle is crucial to making memories. If something important happens to you during the day, your brain strengthens your thoughts and feelings about the event overnight while you rest.

Sleep Aging Digestion None of the above

A short-term memory is likely to become a long-term memory if it has a link to:

Details stored in your mind's data banks can be sorted in three categories: short-term; long-term (or remote); and recent (or working). A short-term memory must have some kind of impact for you to store it. The more ties there are between that memory and your bank of long-term memories, the easier it'll be for you to recall it.

Sensory information (smells, sounds, etc.) Current or historic events Your other long-term memories All of the above

A long-term memory fades because:

Once data has been stored in your long-term memory, it's there forever. However, you can't always call it up because the link (or association) has faded. Short-term memories vanish quickly, sometimes after only a few seconds. And recent, or working, memories are often replaced by new info.

It's no longer important It's replaced by other memories We can't find the link to retrieve the memory All of the above

What's more likely to help you remember to pick up the dry cleaning after work?

Remembering to do something, like run an errand or take daily medication, is called "prospective" memory. Following through on this type of task is tied more to a trigger, like seeing a dry cleaning receipt or driving past a pharmacy, than to having the task committed to memory.

Focusing on it and committing it to memory early in the day Seeing a dry cleaning receipt in your wallet

Which of the following can cause memory problems?

Trouble with total recall can come from many physical and mental conditions not related to aging, like dehydration, infections, and stress. Other causes include medications, substance abuse, poor nutrition, depression, anxiety, and thyroid imbalance.

Dehydration Stress Infections All of the above

Everyone will have some memory loss as they get older.

Yes, memory trouble does come with age, but not everyone has it. People who are more active, both mentally and physically, tend to have a better working memory than people who don't move often, or don't do much to challenge their minds.

True False

A good social life can keep your mind sharp as you age.

Studies show that older folks who stay socially active or live with someone also have better mental function.

True False

Blood pressure and memory loss are related.

High blood pressure can affect blood vessels that supply your brain and lead to memory loss. The reverse also may be true: Studies show aerobic exercise which can help lower blood pressure may improve your memory.

True False

What's something older people can do to help their memory?

Do a word puzzle. Take a brisk walk. Brain teasers and physical activity can both help maintain mental function and preserve memory. Meditation may benefit seniors with memory problems in just eight weeks.

Crossword puzzles Meditation Physical activity All of the above

When an older person forgets where he parked the car, it may be caused by a lack of attention rather than a lapse in memory.

As you get older, it's hard to keep your mind on more than one thing at a time. So if you're talking to someone while parking the car, you may not recall where you left it. Stay focused on what you're doing and it'll be easier to find that memory later.

True False

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