Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Memory loss: What's normal? What's not?


We collect memories well into adulthood, but at some point, we start to lose them. How to tell the difference between memory lapse and signs of a disorder. It is one of those jokes neurologists regularly share when the subject turns to patients complaining of memory lapses: When you can't remember where you left your glasses, there's probably no need to worry. When you can't remember you wear glasses you're probably in trouble.

During the first several decades of life, we layer memory upon memory -- the smell of a mother's hair, the light touch of a first kiss, the multiplication tables, driving directions, telephone numbers and the skills and knowledge of an occupation. By about age 25, however, a human's memory has typically peaked and a long period of decline begins.
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