Short Term Memory is the medical term to define active memory, meaning the information we are aware we are thinking about. Sources for acquiring short-term memory are mostly sensorial, as what can be hearing, smells or sight.
Examples of short term memory:
• Remembering a phone number we recently read
• Distinguishing between perfumes aromas
• Recalling a concept explained during a debate
• Remembering where you placed an object
However, short term memory is highly susceptible to interference. There are a certain number of factors that can reduce our capability of retaining information in our short term memory:
• Medical conditions as Alzheimer’s Disease
• Audiovisual interferences (television, radio)
• Needing to focus our attention someplace else
Therefore, short term memory is also our operative memory to compel the tasks acquired in daily life. When negative factors undermine our capability of retaining information, it is time to consider what can be done to boost it, the sooner, the better.
How does short term memory loss affect your lifestyle
Putting aside complex medical conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease, more likely we have been subject of temporary short-term memory performance struggles at a certain point in our lives.
Using, for example, a common day in the life of a bank employee, we can understand the magnitude of suffering from this condition by imagining the amount of numbers and names that a person working in this profession needs to store over a single day. From your client inquiries to helping co-workers or doing tasks assigned by your manager, people will likely consider unfit to perform the job you are entitled to if you need to ask every 1 or 2 minutes the information you were given.
Of course “camouflage methods” can be used to mask this condition, such as writing down data in post-its, which nobody will consider a sin, or keep important information on your agenda. Reality tells that as soon as you become aware of this condition, the stress it produces is likely to enhance the problem rather than helping to find a solution in short-term unless professional help is sought.
Symptoms of short term memory loss
Unfortunately for most people, memory loss conditions are often addressed after the illness is at a very advanced stage, but is there a way to spot the condition beforehand?
Common symptoms associated with short-term memory loss are:
• Cognitive Decline: A condition usually shared with Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia and many other mental issues, it becomes progressively impairing, which often causes an enormous amount of frustration to the person who starts to address what’s happening. Daily routines tend to get mixed up as people may forget to take medications, pay bills or attend events.
• Behavioural Changes: As a consequence of the cognitive decline, people become extremely susceptible of what others do, especially if, by chance, they mention the forgetfulness factor during chit-chat. What’s known as living on-edge is a precise way to define how a person struggling with short term memory loss is experiencing during that time.
• Repetitiveness: By not acknowledging how the conversation is occurring, people suffering from memory loss conditions can fall under repetitiveness when asking the same questions over and over. Recent conversations can be forgotten, thus leading to repeat the same anecdotes to those around us. That’s the main reason why people who have friends or family members suffering from this condition are told to have a good amount of patience for not adding extra stress to the patient’s life.
Why does short memory loss happen
Science tells short term memory loss is mostly a multi-factor condition, though certain events can trigger an underlying condition to impair a person momentarily. This sole statement can be the reason why post-traumatic stress disorder3 becomes such a cliché when comes to TV series that touch the memory span loss topic as a crucial part to tell a story.
Besides emotional conditions like experiencing traumatic events as car accidents, the death of someone we cared about or acute stress conditions, there are other elements to consider when searching for the cause of short term memory loss:
• Brain Tumors
• Head Trauma
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Sleep Disorders
• Toxin exposure
Substance abuse – alcohol and drugs deadly mixes – are a common cause for producing memory impairment4, which, unfortunately, is usually seen in young people after heavy partying; however, some drugs to treat conditions lead to temporary memory issues as a side effect.
How to boost your short term memory
There are many reasons why somebody would seek for a way to boost their current short term memory capabilities: either to mask a worse condition among the people we care or because we need to put our skills to test under stressful situations like business meetings, moving around airports, doing presentations, etc. So, is there an effective method to boost short term memory?5 Consider the following statements as tips to improve this aspect of our life.
Start with a healthy brain lifestyle
We are what we eat, but not also that resumes what we need to focus if our aim is to change our lifestyle. Sleeping habits take an important role when talking about memory efficiency  since the brain doesn’t get enough time to rest when we get accustomed to sleeping less than 8 hours a day.
Stick to a healthy diet rich on “superfoods”6 like blueberries, oily fish, dark chocolate, garlic, broccoli, beetroot, almonds, etc. Reduce the processed and sugary foods like pastries as extra carbohydrates won’t add much value to your life. So next time you think of consuming Coke as a drink, why not switch to a cup of green tea?
You can also get help from appropriate brain supplements like ALCAR, Alpha GPC, Citicoline, Ginseng (the American one – Panax Ginseng) or Magnesium. But overall, what you need to consider is to engage in physical activity like 1 hour of daily walks and reducing stress from your life , it’s a brain cell killer!
Adapt mental exercises to your lifestyle
There is a reason for mental stimulating games like puzzles, rubric cubes, chess or even math exercises, and the reason is you train your brain to cope with the following elements:
• Avoiding distractions (as short-term memory is extremely susceptive to it)
• Do one task at time (multitasking is just a myth that often hurts our brain)
• Increase concentration levels
If you don’t know how to play chess or you suck at maths, there are other ways to help your brain to keep fit. Video games have been taking the path of self-help for users, becoming much more than a time-taking entertainment, but also rehearsal always work: repeat aloud what you want to remember a certain amount of times and be sure it’s prone to stick.
Write down what you need to remember
The sole action of writing down either number of pieces of text helps the brain to process that information. This is the main reason why students are advised not to highlight their books like there is no tomorrow but to note down the concepts explained.
Take a break
Adding stress to your life is not only not going to help you to improve but is prone to worsen what you already are suffering from. Instead, whenever you feel exhausted or think you can’t cope with what’s in front of you, take a break from everything and seek the outside world. A walk from time to time benefits not only your health but also your mental abilities.
When everything else fails, there is coffee
Studies prove the benefits of caffeine on short-term memory and reaction times, which is considered the sole reason why nearly 80 percent of people start their daily routines with a cup of coffee.
Habit or not, drinking coffee will certainly put the couch potato mood aside and get us focused on working and processing information. Watch out! Don’t overdo your coffee dosage or consistently rely on energy beverages as increased anxiety, tachycardia and gastritis are among the most usual side effects of caffeine abuse.