Short-term memory refers to our capacity to briefly retain a small amount of fresh information. For instance, when a new acquaintance shares their phone number, the average person can have that number for about 18 seconds. Reciting the number can extend this duration by about 20 seconds, allowing one to hold onto the number until it can be saved elsewhere. However, the information may be lost if interruptions or distractions occur during this process. Neurological issues can frequently interfere with this short-term memory process.
In patients with superficial siderosis, short-term memory problems often have both organic and psychological roots. Given the cerebellar degeneration associated with the condition, which leads to Overview Superficial siderosis progression may have profound... More and mood disorders like increased irritability, anxiety, and Overview Depression is a common and serious mental health di... More, stress can significantly exacerbate memory issues. Individuals suffering from such disorders often struggle with task initiation, decision-making, future planning, and thought organization, which can severely affect or even eliminate their ability to use repetition to retain new information.
Research has shown that the hormone cortisol, released during times of stress, can contribute to memory loss—particularly short-term memory loss—due to its detrimental effects on brain cells. As such, individuals with severe anxiety are particularly susceptible to memory loss problems.
According to a theory known as Miller’s Law, established by George Miller in 1956, the short-term working memory of a healthy person has limited to around 7 (±2) items and lasts only briefly. Therefore, when presented with a list of things, most people will remember 5-9 items, with an average of 7. Jason Radley, an assistant psychology professor at UI, likens the effect of stress hormones on the brain to the weathering of a shoreline rock. After years of exposure, it will eventually break down and disappear.
Known Problem Areas
Short-term memory is responsible for holding a small amount of information in an active, readily available state for a short period of time. If the areas of the brain responsible for this function are damaged, several problems may arise.
- Forgetfulness of recent events or conversations: A person might forget what they had for breakfast or about a conversation just a few minutes ago.
- Difficulty learning new information: A person may struggle to remember new information, such as names or addresses, or learn new skills.
- Repeatedly asking the same questions: As they forget the answers almost as soon as they’ve heard them, they might keep asking the same questions over and over again.
- Difficulty following multi-step instructions: They may not remember the series of tasks they’ve just been asked to do.
- Getting lost in familiar places: They may not remember familiar routes or landmarks, causing disorientation even in well-known environments.
As for managing short-term memory problems in superficial siderosis patients, several strategies are recommended:
- Use Written Reminders: Write down important information to help recall later.
- Set Phone Alarms: Use alarms to remind of critical events such as medication times and appointments.
- Employ Auditory and Visual Reminders: When starting tasks, reminders can help see them through to completion.
- Play Concentration Games: These can help to stimulate and improve short-term memory.
- Practice Self-Repetition Exercises: Regularly repeating information can help to retrain your brain and enhance memory retention.
These strategies can significantly improve memory problems associated with superficial siderosis, but patients need to discuss these techniques with their healthcare provider for personalized advice. It’s important to note that symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient, depending on the progression of the disease and the specific areas of the brain affected. If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and treatment.