Melbourne: In a new study, researchers have invented a new malaise to describe the type of memory loss which is affecting most people as our lives get more complicated and hurried that makes all the things we need to know even tougher – Busy Lifestyle Syndrome (BLS).
According to doctors at CPS Research, a Glasgow-based clinical trials company, the syndrome is caused by hectic lives bombarded with information overload from mobile phones, BlackBerrys, TV, radio and the internet.
According to spokeswoman Angela Scott-Henderson, there are widespread signs of the problem, our attention spans and concentration levels are going down, which is more common and affecting people at younger ages.
As a result of the clinical trials, drug companies are creating a lucrative new business in “memory pills” because they clearly believe that there is a market for people worried about their brains, News.com.au reported.
The fact is that forgetting things is normal. Scientific studies show perfectly healthy people can suffer up to 30 mental lapses of the ‘Why did I come upstairs?’ kind every week.
Finnish psychologist Dr Maria Jonsdottir discovered this by asking 189 healthy volunteers aged between 19 and 60 to record their lapses for a week, and concluded that such episodes “do not mean something is wrong with that person’s brain”.
In an increasingly frenetic world of mobiles, emails and multi-channel TV, the more things we do and see, the more likely we are to forget things.
Experts have been able to identify when memory problems are normal and when they could be a sign to seek medical help.
Normal memory problems include forgetting what you went upstairs for, taking several minutes to recall where the car is parked, forgetting to call a friend back while working from home with misbehaving children, putting things down and being unable to find them soon after, forgetting something trivial a friend mentioned the day before, forgetting the name of someone you’ve just met and briefly forgetting the word for something - the ‘thingamabob’ moment.
Dr Oliver Cockerell, a consultant neurologist at The London Clinic, says that this normal memory loss may occur because our immediate short-term memory is very easily distractible.
Since the brain knows we’re unlikely to need to remember a menial task such as going upstairs to get a book in a few hours, so it erases the memory to make room for more important stuff.
Stress, grief and lack of sleep can also affect memory, as can trying to do too many things at once.
However, the more worrying memory loss symptoms include asking for a cup of tea, not realising you’ve just had one, forgetting a grandchild’s name, but childhood memories are vivid, no idea how to perform everyday tasks like washing, finding family structure confusing, such as not being clear which grandchild belongs to whom, impaired judgement, e.g. wearing a thick overcoat in summer, being unable to tell what the purpose of an everyday object is, not recognising friends and family, leaving belongings in strange places like a kettle under the bed or a wallet in the fridge and feeling disorientated about time and place - frequently visited places are unfamiliar.
This might be happening because Alzheimer’s affects the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for short-term memory. Long-term memory is usually unaffected.