Why do some people have difficulty remembering things? Or, perhaps the question is, do we take our memory for granted? Although science seeks to explain forgetfulness in many ways, much of what enables memory is a mystery. However, we do know that aging, menopause and certain diseases are guilty of worsening our ability to remember. Regardless of how memory works or why it deteriorates, supporting the ability to retain and remember information has become a universal aspiration.
The central nervous system’s role in forming and recalling memories is a complex, poorly understood phenomena. When processing information, brain activity creates temporary, short-term memories. This fresh information is soon abandoned unless specific biological pathways are activated to change it into a long-term memory. Long-term memory generally involves three separate events:
- Encoding – This is when we break new concepts into their composite parts to establish meaning. Furthermore, we include the context around us as we learn a new concept, or experience another episode in our life.
- Storage – As we store a memory, we attach it to other related memories. This enables people to consolidate new concepts with older memories.
- Retrieval – Retrieving a concept is accomplished by following pointers to trace a stored code, then accessing the memory to regain meaning.
Each memory related event involves an intricate series of reactions between nerve cells. Unimpeded circulation in the tissue surrounding the central nervous system fosters the ideal environment for these reactions to occur.
Many approaches to memory improvement have been explored, with memorization techniques, brain exercises and supplements to increase cranial circulation taking the lead. Aside from pathological causes, the majority of experts concur that the old adage ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’ applies to memory. Analysis of this perspective enforces the concept of circulation as the primary constituent of good health. Just like all areas of the body, the brain needs free-flowing energy and blood flow to function optimally.
Once it is understood that cranial circulation plays a role in a person’s cognitive abilities, a specific type of bodywork becomes a clear choice for supporting memory. By restoring the natural rhythmic movement found between the bones of the skull, cranial-sacral therapy (CST) can help improve the internal environment of the central nervous system. CST frees restrictions in the cranial tissue and cerebrospinal fluid, thus improving circulation within the central nervous system.
While CST supports the memory process from a physiological perspective, practicing specific mental tasks approaches memory enhancement from another angle. According to Harvard University researchers, normal age-related changes in the brain can slow some cognitive processes, making it harder to remember things. They suggest some of the following strategies to boost memory:
- Recruit all of your senses – The more senses you use when you learn something, the more your brain will be involved in retaining the memory.
- Expand the input to your brain – Widen the brain regions involved in learning by reading aloud, drawing a picture or writing down the information you want to learn. By forcing more details into a piece of information, these additional images help make it easier to understand a thought and remember it.
- Challenge yourself – Engaging in activities that require concentration and recruit your memory skills, helps maintain circulation in your brain – even as you age.
- Enroll in a memory course – Memory improvement courses run by health professionals or experts in psychology or cognitive rehabilitation help many people focus on practical ways to manage everyday challenges.
We can avoid taking our memory for granted by consciously striving to keep our cognition intact. Using the mind to strengthen our neural network increases the brain’s resistance to forgetfulness. Cranial-sacral therapy supports a quick and accurate memory by releasing cranial restrictions that slow down nerve cell reactions. By keeping the brain active internally with memory strategies and externally with enhanced cranial circulation, it is possible to help prevent the breakdown of memory.
http://health.harvard.edu, 9 Strategies to Improve Memory, HealthBeat, Harvard University, 2008.
http://library.thinkquest.org, The Science of Memory, Think Quest, 2008.
www.sfn.org, How do Facts Stick in our Mind?, Society for Neuroscience, 2008.
www.upledger.com, Symptoms, Illnesses and Treatments, The Upledger Institute, Inc., 2008.
www.usatoday.com, How does Human Memory Work?, April Holladay, USA Today, 2008.