Mood & Memory
This finding comes from an analysis of information from 991 mid-life and older U.S. adults who reported on their positive emotions periodically between 1995 and 1996, 2004 and 2006 and 2013 and 2014. They also completed memory tests that involved recalling words immediately after each session and again 15 minutes later. While the researchers found that memory declined predictably with age, the paper’s lead author, Emily Hittner, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, said that individuals with higher levels of “positive affect” – that is, feeling enthusiastic, attentive, proud and active – had a less steep memory decline over the course of almost a decade.
My take? This is encouraging news. In my estimation, worrying about your memory is a healthy indicator that nothing serious is wrong with it. Researchers say a more important tip-off is when other people start to worry about your memory. It should reassure you to know that memory lapses begin in your 20s, when we’re barely aware of them and are rarely bothered by them. While most people become conscious of memory lapses in their 50s – you might forget where you put your keys or left your car at any age – the underlying problem usually is just one of lacking attention – you were focused on something else at the time you set down your keys or parked your car.
Claudia M. Haase et al, “Positive Affect Is Associated With Less Memory Decline: Evidence From a 9-Year Longitudinal Study.” Psychological Science, October 22, 2020; 095679762095388 DOI: 10.1177/0956797620953883
More current health news from this week’s bulletin:
- Where’s The Chocolate?
- Pandemic Psychology
- A colorful salad to try: Carrot, Beet, Coconut & Sesame Salad
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