CRS

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CRS Disease (Can't Remember S_ _ _): An Introduction To Understanding Memory

CRS Disease (Can't Remember S_ _ _): An Introduction To Understanding Memory


One of the students I work with, who is not older than 25, was trying to remember a phone number and kept writing it and rewriting it trying to get the number right. He never did get the number right and in frustration said, "There's just too much stuff to remember."

This is a complaint I've been hearing repeatedly from people of all ages - that there is just too much stuff to remember. Older people use that dreadful phrase "senior moment," others say they are experiencing early Alzheimer's and my fellow columnist, Joe Flower, told me he had CRS Disease (Can't Remember S_ _ _). Of course, he can't remember where he heard the phrase. (Editor's note: As one of our visitor's noted, it might not be the original, but it appeared in the movie Bottle Rocket (1996) www.imdb.com/title/tt0115734 which Martin Scorsese picked as his seventh favorite movie of the decade.)

These ubiquitous memory complaints got me to thinking about just how much people have to remember. Start with phone numbers. In my immediate family of one husband, one daughter, one son, and one new son-in-law, there are 13 numbers, including cell phones, fax machines, pagers, and voice mail.

Of the 13 numbers, I remember nine and refuse to use speed dial because I think my ability to remember any phone number would be irretrievably lost.

Then there are all those e-mail addresses, passwords, and PINs one is supposed to remember. And how about all those countries and cities that change their names - you end up trying to remember both the old and the new name so you will recognize both Myanmar/Burma and Mumbai/Bombay.

If you think you are one of those people suffering from CRS Disease, here is how you can find out more about memory and memory loss. In researching this column I have found variations of this quote: "If you can't remember where you put the car keys, that's OK; if you can't remember what the keys are for, then you have a problem."

Of course, there are times when memory loss indicates a serious problem. If you think you or a loved one has real problem, check with your physician.

Search Tip: If you do a global Internet search it's best to use the term "human memory" as "memory" alone retrieves an overabundance of information on computer memory.

Also, a term that frequently appears in discussions of memory is mnemonics, which I had to look up to make certain that I understood it correctly. The definition: the cultivation of improvement of memory by special methods or techniques. (Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary, 28th ed., 1994)

HealthCentral.com HealthCentral.com has comprehensive information on this subject. Dr. Dean has discussed memory and memory loss many times. To find the most recent information just type in the terms "memory" or "memory loss." Short-term memory and amnesia also retrieve helpful information. In our Cool Tools section you can take a memory quiz to test your memory and find out why you sometimes remember things incorrectly with the false memories test.

Some Good Sites on Memory

New York Memory and Healthy Aging Service http://www.nywoman.org/devig/memoryquiz.html This site discusses estrogen and memory and has a very basic memory quiz with scoring.

Memory Loss: Should I Be Concerned? American Geriatrics Society http://www.americangeriatrics.org/memoloss.shtml Aimed at older people, this site discusses possible causes of memory loss and what tests can be done to determine if there is a problem.

Human Memory: What It Is and How to Improve It Brain & Mind http://www.epub.org.br/cm/n01/memo/memory.htm This is a first-rate Brazilian site; sections include Types of Memory, Remembering and Forgetting, Brain Mechanisms of Memory, Brain Growth, Loss of Memory, How to Improve Memory and Memory Tests.

The Over-Active Mind, New Research on Middle-Aged Memory Loss Osho International Foundation http://osho.org/news/amrito/brainrot.htm Check out this site for an unusual viewpoint. Not certain how accurate it is, but it certainly makes one think.

Online Memory Improvement Course University of Amsterdam, Dept. of Psychology http://www.memory.uva.nl/memory_improvement/mnemonics.htm Offers many systems, from simple to sophisticated, on how to improve memory.

Short-Term Memory Test University of Kentucky http://outreach.gws.uky.edu/bodylanguage/insidescoop/memtest/short_term_memory.htm A fun test with a concise explanation of how short-term memory works.

Herbs and Food for Memory Improvement There has been much interest in the use of certain herbs and foods for improvement of memory. Here are a few sites that report findings from the medical literature.

"Memory Loss? Eat Some Blueberries" http://www.ncfb.com/daily/Sept.%2013-19/memory_loss.htm. An easy-to-understand summary of findings published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

"Can Ginkgo Help My Memory?" Dr. Dean's comments on the use of ginkgo biloba in short-term memory loss.

"Medicinal Plants and Alzheimer's Disease: From Ethnobotany to Phytotherapy," J Pharm Pharmacol 1999 May;51(5):527-34 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/htbin-post/Entrez/query?uid=10411211&form=6&db=m&Dopt=b The abstract of an article with a good overview of the effect of medicinal plants on Alzheimer's.

"A Review of Nutrients and Botanicals in the Integrative Management of Cognitive Dysfunction" Altern Med Rev 1999 Jun;4(3):144-61 http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/4/3/144.html Full text of good review article.

The Medical Literature

PubMed Medline http://www.nlm.nih.gov There are thousands of articles written about memory, most of them quite technical. The Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) to use are: --Memory --Memory Disorders --Short-Term Memory --Recall --Retention --Eidectic (photographic) Memory, --Amnesia.

The MeSH Browser provides excellent concise definitions of these terms.

To put everything into perspective, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by the wonderful actress Ingrid Bergman: "Happiness is good health and a bad memory."
Source: www.healthcentral.com/Columnists/ColumnistsFullText.cfm?ID=21715&storytype=Column_Schmalz

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We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. - Joan Didion



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