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Don’t Panic Over These Common Memory Problems

You’ll want to remember this one

One of the darker ironies of getting older is that it’s so easy to remember how much you forget. To calm your nerves this holiday season — especially if you’re not actively blocking out those seasonal memories you’d just as soon do without — try to bear in mind that top psychologists wouldn’t be that worried about your brain even if you experience a fairly long string of recall-related issues.


Harvard psych professor Daniel Schacter, for instance, recognizes six memory flaws that shouldn’t keep you up at night unless they’re “extreme and persistent,” Next Avenue notes.

There’s “transience,” which often includes forgetting unused memories to make room for new ones; “absent-mindedness,” which can be caused by already thinking about something more pressing; “blocking,” when something mysteriously obstructs access to an item you just know you know; “misattribution,” which colors otherwise sound memories with inaccurate details because your aging brain goes easier on the minutiae; “suggestibility,” like when you see an old picture and believe you remember being there; and sheer “bias,” where your attitude casts your memories in a light that might not really have reflected reality.

All told, Schacter’s list reminds us that brains aren’t machines that cough up information we experienced in sterile, flawless ways. As uncomfortable as it can be to experience that firsthand as the years roll on, it’d be even more unsettling to have to live life with total recall around every corner… especially after a year like this one.

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