I’ve been doing a little reading up on the cause of memory loss because lately, I can’t seem to retain a lot of short term memory. The reading is nothing in depth but I was just curious as to why I’m having a hard time remembering things. I’m not doing much that would cause me stress so I don’t see any reason why I would forget so easily.
There are days where I am not sure if I’ve eaten or not. I don’t feel hungry so I assumed that I have but I can’t remember what I ate. I could eat two hours earlier and forget about it later and eat again. It may not sound like it’s a big deal but when it’s happening to you more and more frequently, it starts to turn into a big deal.
It has been suggested that caffeine is the main cause of my memory loss but that’s a little hard to accept. I’ve been drinking coffee since my college days and my memory was fine back then. I drank coffee to help me stay up late into the night and study. Everything that I studied the following night was still fresh in my head. I think I drank a lot more coffee back then than I do now so I don’t think the coffee is causing it.
The brain is capable of many functions. One of those functions is memory. The neocortex is part of the brain that is used for conscious thought, spatial reasoning, and sensory perception. It is located at the outer surface of the cerebral hemispheres of the brain. The hippocampus is located inside the medial temporal lobe. It works with the neocortex when it comes to storing memory by helping in the sorting and sending information. Those information are stored in appropriate sections of your brain and recalling them when necessary.
This process takes places while you sleep, which is something that I’ve been lacking a lot of lately due to the night shift. Some time during your sleep the neocortex and the hippocampus synchronizes with each other so that the information in the hippocampus are stored in the neocortex. Memories are stored in both locations but during sleep, the hippocampus is cleared in order to make room for the next day. The hippocampus is much like RAM in a computer while the neocortex is the hard drive. The information in the hippocampus is wiped clean.
With RAM, when you used up all of the space that you have, sometimes the computer loops and overwrites the information that’s at the beginning. This is what causes that “blue screen of death” in Windows machine. In my case, that is what might be happening. Since I’m doing the night shift, I’m awake much longer than most people so the information from yesterday is being overwritten by today’s information. The neocortex and the hippocampus can’t synchronize with each other because the information doesn’t match. So what is probably happening is that the neocortex just disregards the information stored in the hippocampus and stores whatever it recorded for the day.
Coffee is a stimulant and it causes temporary alertness so that would make me more acceptable in receiving information. Overdosing on coffee may cause anxiety and headache but I don’t see it affecting memory, not like the effects of alcohol. Since the process for storing memory supposedly happens while I’m sleeping, I’m guessing that, that is where things went wrong. Even though I do manage to get a lot of sleep, I’m not sleeping when I’m supposed to. My brain is probably in sync with my biological clock so it starts processing information when I’m still awake. That would explain when I sometimes have no recollection of events that happened only a few hours ago. But then again, it could just be me.