By: Larry E. Masula, DC
Memory loss affects thousands of people every year. Memory loss is often attributed to "getting older". In reality, age-related memory loss is a fallacy. The latest scientific research indicates that memory loss is actually a direct result of decreased use of the memory centers within the brain.
At first, memory changes often appear subtle. For example, you may walk into a room and forget why you are there, or recognize someone you have met before, but can't recall their name. Early symptoms of memory loss may progress to more significant memory loss. The good news is that the latest documented research indicates specific areas of the brain, primarily the temporaal lobes, can be activated to improve memory.
Anatomically, the brain is comprised of a right and left cortex. Each cortex contains an area called the temporal lobe. The temporal lobes are responsible for retaining specific types of short and long term memory. For example, the left temporal lobe is most related to remembering word lists, processing verbal language, and recalling language spoken in a monotone voice. The right temporal lobe is affiliated with remembering familiar events as well as processing non-verbal information. The right temporal lobe will house memory such as voice-intonated (singing) memory. If one portion of the brain isn't working at its maximum, memory, as well as other functions of the temporal lobe may be affected. This would also include one's ability to smell and one's ability to hear.
Fortunately, the temporal lobes can be directly stimulated to improve memory. Some of the treatment modalities to improve include olfactory stimulation (smelling different smells such as peppermint or cloves) in one or both nostrils will directly stimulate the temporal lobe (more specifically, the hippocampus). Treatment modalities that also improve temporal lobe plasticity (function) would be auditory stimulation in one ear or visual stimulation on one side. Looking at familiar faces will stimulate the left amygdala area deep in the temporal lobe, while looking at unfamiliar faces will stimulate the right amygdala area. Other modalities which may be used to increase global brain function include T.E.N.S., word search, mazes or looking at big letters made of small letters or familiar or unfamiliar faces.