How Aging Affects Memory
Cognitive psychology is a field in psychology that analyzes the internal mental processes. Cognitive psychology involves the study of how people perceive things and how they remember. It also involves the study of how people think, speak and solve problems. Cognitive psychology is different from other fields of psychology in different ways. First, cognitive psychology accepts the use of scientific ways as a method of investigation.
Second, cognitive psychology recognizes the existence of internal mental processes. Aging and memory has become a major issue in the society. People have different views on aging and memory. People argue that aging leads to loose of memory as it affects brain cells and its functions. Also, people do not know how to prevent the negative effects of aging on brain. This has made it difficulty to improve memory among elderly people. This paper analyzes how aging affects memory. It also identifies ways to prevent aging and improve memory.
How Aging affects the memory
Memory refers to the ability of human beings to store information, retain it and retrieve it when needed. In addition to storing information, human beings store experiences, retain them and later retrieve them when needed. The memory plays an important role in cognitive psychology. First, the memory helps human beings store information they have acquired from the outside world. Also, the memory helps human beings retain and recall the information stored for use.
There are three main stages in formation and retrieval of memory. The first stage is encoding. There are various processes associated with encoding. That is receiving, storage and processing. The first process is receiving information from the outside world. After receiving information from the outside worlds, the information is processes and combined. The second stage in information processing is storage. The information encoded from the outside world is stored permanently. The third stage is retrieving. This involves recalling and recollecting the information stored in the memory for use (Sternberg & Mio, 2008).
There are various types of memory. That is sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory. The memories play different roles. In addition, the memory differ in terms of storage capacity and storage period .Also, the memories differ in terms of the speed needed to retrieve information stored in them. Sensory memory stores information received from the outside world. The memory does not store information permanently. The information stored is further taken to the short term memory to be processed (Sternberg & Mio, 2008).
Another type of memory is short term memory. The information stored in the short term memory is mainly stored in form of sounds and images. The information is only stored for a shorter period before being moved in the long term memory. In long term memory information is stored permanently according to the meaning and importance (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
Aging affects the memory as it affects the brain cells responsible for memory. The brain plays an important role in cognitive functions like memory. There are certain parts of the brain that are responsible for memory. The cells release chemicals that send signals from one part of the brain to another. This makes it easy for people to recall things. The memory is also affected when the production of the neurotransmitters declines. The production of neurotransmitters declines as one ages. For example, old people experience memory loose more than young people. This is because the production of neurotransmitters in old people is not effective like in young people. This hinders signals from being transferred from one part of the brain to another.
Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that allow the cells in the brain to communicate and perform various cognitive functions like memory. Studies have shown that people tend to produce low amounts of neurotransmitters as they age and this affects different types of memories. It also affects memory functions like recalling. People having low amounts of neurotransmitters find it difficulty to recall things. This is because the brain cells are not communicating (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
Moreover, the breakdowns of the neurotransmitters is affected as people grow older. This reduces the supply of neurotransmitters to the brain. Hence, this affects memory function. In other cases it can lead to loss of memory completely. The brain cannot work well without enough supply of the chemicals. Some of the neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s affect the brain and its functions. For example, Alzheimer has led to reduced levels of neurotransmitters. This has affected the brain functions negatively. Patients having Alzheimer experience memory loose as the chemical production in the brain is affected (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
Further aging affects the brain as it reduces the amount of blood flowing to the brain. The flow of the blood to the brain cells decreases as we grow older. This is because the circulation systems becomes inefficient as people get older and affects the circulation of blood in the body. For example, it can affect the flow of the blood to the brain cells. This in turn affects brain functions like memory. Thus, aging affects memory negatively. In addition, infections and problems experienced by elderly people like clogged arteries affect the brain functions. Clogged arteries affect the flow of blood to the heart and brain. This hinders the brain from functioning properly. Plague in the brain has also affected brain functions like memory.
Plagues reduce the cerebral blood flow and affect brain functions. The brain depends on oxygen and nutrients to carry out its functions. The brain consumes the largest percentage of oxygen in the brain. Decrease in the amount of oxygen affects short term memory and long term memory. Thus, this affects the functions of the memories. Decrease in the amount of oxygen in the body affects concentration and focus. This makes it difficulty for older people to recall things. The brain cells are worn out as one ages. The cells are worn out and fail to transmit chemicals in the brain. This affects brain activities (Balota &Marsh, 2004).
There are several methods that can one can use to overcome the negative effects of aging on memory. First, one should carry out exercise regularly to improve the flow of blood in the body. Exercise plays an important role in keeping the body and the brain healthy. Elderly people are supposed to carry out exercise frequently so as to help them overcome aging. This in turn helps enhance the functionality of the brain (Balota &Marsh, 2004).
Apart from exercising, one should take the right diet and nutrition. The kind of food one feeds on affects the functioning of the brain negatively or positively. For example, people who take more vitamins and minerals .Vitamins help in production of neurotransmitters in the brain. This in turn improves memory processes like recalling. Lack of vitamins and proper diet affects the production of neurotransmitters. This hinders memory processes. Additionally one can get supplements from the hospitals to help improve brain functions. For example, supplements like Huperzine A help prevent destruction of neurotransmitters in the brain. It also helps protect the nerve cells from destruction. The supplements, exercise and proper diets helps combat aging and this prevents aging from affecting memory activities (Solso, Maclin & Maclin, 2008).
The topic how aging affects memory is relevant to the field of cognitive psychology. This is because the topic helps people understand how aging and memory are related. It helps people understand how aging affects memory negatively resulting to memory loose. This has helped overcome the issues facing elderly people like aging and memory. It also helps people understand how to prevent aging and improve memory (Solso, Maclin & Maclin, 2008).
Aging has become a major issue in the society. This is because aging has a negative impact on memory. Aging affects memory in different ways. For example, aging leads to reduced circulation of blood in the body and brain. This affects the brain functions like memory. Also, plagues affects the flow of blood in the brain and hinder memory activities. In addition, aging affects the production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters help transport signals from one part of the bran to another.
Reduction in production of neurotransmitters affects the transfer of signals in the brain and hence memory functions. It affects the short term, long term and sensory memory. Exercise, poor diet and nutrition can help prevent aging and improve memory. This is because they stimulate production of neurotransmitters in the body. They also increase blood flow. Also, supplements can help improve the flow of blood and production of neurotransmitters.
Balota, D.A., &Marsh, E.J. (2004).Cognitive psychology: key readings. Psychology Press
Eysenck, M.W.,Keane, M.T. (2005).Cognitive psychology: a student's handbook. Psychology Press
Solso, R.L., Maclin, O.H., Maclin, M.K. (2008). Cognitive psychology (8th ed). Boston: Allyn & Bacon
Sternberg, R.J., &Mio, J. (2008).Cognitive psychology. Cengage Learning