Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin writes in The New York Times:
Short-term memory contains the contents of your thoughts right now, including what you intend to do in the next few seconds. It’s doing some mental arithmetic, thinking about what you’ll say next in a conversation or walking to the hall closet with the intention of getting a pair of gloves.
Short-term memory is easily disturbed or disrupted. It depends on your actively paying attention to the items that are in the “next thing to do” file in your mind. You do this by thinking about them, perhaps repeating them over and over again (“I’m going to the closet to get gloves”). But any distraction — a new thought, someone asking you a question, the telephone ringing — can disrupt short-term memory. Our ability to automatically restore the contents of the short-term memory declines slightly with every decade after 30.
But age is not the major factor so commonly assumed. I’ve been teaching undergraduates for my entire career and I can attest that even 20-year-olds make short-term memory errors — loads of them. They walk into the wrong classroom; they show up to exams without the requisite No. 2 pencil; they forget something I just said two minutes before. These are similar to the kinds of things 70-year-olds do.
In the absence of brain disease, even the oldest older adults show little or no cognitive or memory decline beyond age 85 and 90, as shown in a 2018 study. Memory impairment is not inevitable.
Some aspects of memory actually get better as we age. For instance, our ability to extract patterns, regularities and to make accurate predictions improves over time because we’ve had more experience. (This is why computers need to be shown tens of thousands of pictures of traffic lights or cats in order to be able to recognize them). If you’re going to get an X-ray, you want a 70-year-old radiologist reading it, not a 30-year-old one
Good to know as my brain and yours continues to age. Our brains might be slightly more crowded with experience, thus it might take a bit longer to access some memory, but it isn’t due to the brain deteriorating. My spelling is as poor as it ever was, more due to utilizing the crutch of computer spell-check than my brain turning to mush because I drink wine.
Funny how memory works.1 A song by The Cars came on the iTunes shuffler, and I remembered the first time I heard that band when I was 13 or 14, traveling with my uncle Phil up to Frostpocket. We stopped in Atlanta because there was some Amnesty International exhibit on the death penalty and/or the Cambodian Killing Fields (as far as I can remember). We stayed with my aunt Megan, and her boyfriend at the time, Mark (whose last name I forget)2 for three days, one of those I was alone in their apartment, looking at their records, and found the Cars album, put it on the turntable…
Looking at the cover, I’m pretty sure it was the album, Panorama.
Greg Prato writes:
For their third album, 1980’s Panorama, the Cars decided to challenge their fans with an album unlike its predecessors. Whereas The Cars and Candy-O were both comprised of instantly catchy and distinctly tuneful songs, Panorama was much darker and not as obvious — an attempt at breaking away from the expected winning formula
Andy Hinds review of Foreigner’s oeuvre made me chuckle.
Although punk rock’s furious revolution threatened to overthrow rock’s old guard in 1977, bands like Foreigner came along and proved that there was plenty of room in the marketplace for both the violent, upstart minimalism of punk and the airbrushed slickness of what would be called “arena rock.” Along with Boston, Journey, Heart, and others, Foreigner celebrated professionalism over raw emotion. And, looking back, it’s easy to see why they sold millions; not everyone in the world was pissed off, dissatisfied with the economy, or even necessarily looking for a change. In fact, for most suburban American teens, Foreigner’s immaculate rock sound was the perfect soundtrack for cruising through well-manicured neighborhoods in their Chevy Novas.
I wouldn’t say that Battle Bend off of S. Congress in Austin was exactly well-manicured, it wasn’t really urban grit either. When I was a teenager living at 306 Sheraton Avenue, I had a copy of Foreigner’s Greatest Hits, on cassette tape. Amusingly enough, my friend and next door neighbor did have a car which might have been a Chevy Nova, or similar.