Does Age Affect Memory?
Problem: Does age affect memory?
Hypothesis: I believe that age will have a strong effect on a person’s memory. As someone gets older, their memory will begin to get worse. I believe that younger people will take less time to complete memory tests and will have more accurate responses than older people.
Prediction: When I complete the memory tests to conduct my experiment, I predict that people under the age of 23 will have better memory than people over the age of 23.
These are the steps that I did to complete the experiment:
Step 1: I planned and brainstormed ideas for my project. Once I had an idea, ‘Does Age Affect Memory’ which I was interested in, I began to think about my experiment hypothesis, predictions, and so on.
Step 2: My second step was to create memory test games that I could use to get data for my experiment. I created 2 tests and created a list of people with different ages to test. I was able to call some of these people to complete tests over facetime, and the rest were completed in my home since I live with my parents, siblings, and grandparents. I completed 6 tests in total.
Step 3: As I was completing the tests, I recorded the results on a piece of paper so I can compare them. I was able to conclude that younger people do have better memory than older people. I observed that age does have an effect on memory. I then went back to my hypothesis and prediction to make a decision as to whether I was right or wrong.
Step 4: After comparing the data results, I began to collect research to support my data results. I came to a conclusion that my experiment predictions were correct, and in fact older people have a harder time remembering certain things. Memory fades away as people get older, and they take a longer time to answer the memory tests.
Step 5: I was able to learn a lot from the research that I collected, and I continued to work on the rest of my project. This included collecting more research, updating my logbook, and posting everything on my trifold.
TEST #1: MEMORY CARD GAME
- Each person got 1 minute to look at 9 different pictures. When the timer went off after 1 minute, the person had to tell me what objects they remember seeing.
TEST #2: SHAPES AND COLORS MEMORY GAME:
- Each person got 1 minute to look at a photo with 3 different shapes, each with a different color. After the minute was over, I asked them the following questions:
What color was the triangle?
What shape was yellow?
What were the 3 shapes?
TEST #3: LETTER GROUP MEMORY GAME:
- Each person got 1 minute to look at a group of letters. After the minute was over, they had to repeat what letters they saw in the group, in the exact order.
What is Memory?
- Memory is a person’s ability to remember information. This information can be stored in either short-term or long-term memory.
- Short-term memory is information that is gathered on a daily basis, such as names, phone numbers, and where you parked your car.
- Long-term memory includes memories from years ago, even back into your childhood. For example, remembering how you learned to ride your bike and what the experience was like. By the age of 20, you begin to lose brain cells. As you age, your brain's ability to remember things, both short-term and long-term decreases.
Where is Memory Stored?
- The human brain has many different parts that are important for memory. The hippocampus is one of the most important parts of the brain that processes memories.
- Memories, as well as old and new information are stored in different areas of the cerebral cortex, which is the largest part of the human brain.
Three Types of Memory:
- Sensory Memory: You instantly use sensory memory to remember impressions that were made on your senses, such as hearing, feeling, smelling, seeing, and tasting. For example: when someone shows you a photo of a dog for 5 seconds, you will be able to remember the size, colour, and what the dog looks like. This uses the frontal lobe of the brain.
- Short-term Memory: This is how your brain stores small amounts of information you just took in, such as a phone number your friend just told you. It is proven that you are able to remember 4-7 things in your short-term memory at one time. Short-term memory fades away quickly. This also uses the frontal lobe of the brain.
- Long-term Memory: Long term memory is responsible to store all information for a long period of time (several years). This includes all of your memory from years ago, even when you were a little child. You can remember places you've visited, and people you met. Long-term memory uses a larger part of your brain than Sensory and Short-term.
Does Age Affect Memory?
Age is proven to be the biggest risk factor for many brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. These brain diseases affect the structure and the function of the brain which will change the way you think and do certain things. Brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia cause unusual proteins to build up together and form knots that damage brain tissue. This will then result in memory loss.
Memory Loss and Aging:
There is a difference between normal forgetfulness and a serious memory problem due to aging. Forgetfulness can include things like forgetting where you put your car keys, but serious memory problems make it hard to do everyday things like shopping and driving. Signs of serious memory problems due to age may include: Asking the same questions over and over again, getting lost in familiar places, not being able to follow instructions or recipes such as baking, and becoming confused about people, places, and time.
Dementia is not a normal part of getting old. It is when someone loses their cognitive functioning, which includes thinking, remembering, learning, and reasoning. Dementia also affects behaviour which affects the way people do certain activities. People with dementia may also have problems with speaking and language, explaining visual pictures, such as the one you see on this slide, or paying attention. Some also experience a change in their personality. There are different ways that dementia can affect someone. It can be mild, so it will begin to affect a person’s functioning, or it can be severe, where the person must depend completely on others for basic activities of daily living.
- Alzheimer's disease is named after Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who noticed changes in the brain tissue of a woman who died from a mental illness in 1906. This woman's symptoms included language problems, and memory loss.
- Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder that destroys memory and thinking skills. If you have Alzheimer's, as you get older it will affect your ability to complete simple tasks that you used to be able to do.
- For most people, Alzheimer's begins to show in their early-60s. This is a common disease in older people.
How to Improve your Memory:
- When you begin experiencing memory loss it can be irritating and frustrating, so to help with memory gain there are some activities that one can consider, such as:
- Playing word games
- Learning a new language
- Completing puzzles
- Playing brain games such as sudoku
- Physical Activities
- Train your brain
- Learn and read
Signs of Memory Loss due to Aging:
- Getting lost while driving in a common area.
- Asking the same questions repeatedly.
- Forgetting familiar words when speaking.
- Taking longer to complete daily tasks, such as baking.
- Misplacing common items in wrong places, such as milk in the cabinet vs. fridge.
- Mixing words up, such as saying kitchen instead of bedroom.
- Current changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason.
- Challenges in solving problems.
When to Seek Help:
- If someone is concerned about their memory loss, they should check in with their doctor. Normally when someone forgets where they left their wallet, that is more of an organization issue and not a major memory issue. A person should seek professional help when they begin to forget how to complete everyday tasks, such as cooking dinner, not being able to learn new things such as how to use an oven, or not remembering names or faces of people you constantly see. We all forget things sometimes like where you put your car keys or where you left your notebook, but when you forget things like what keys are used for, that is when you need to contact your family doctor and get help. Forgetting daily routines that you do every day is not normal or part of aging, instead it is a memory loss issue.
What Will a Doctor Do?
- There are many tests to determine the degree of memory loss and diagnose the cause. Your doctor will ask you questions to find out what may be causing the memory loss, such as:
- - When did your memory problems begin?
- - What medications do you take and in what doses?
- -Have you recently started a new medication?
- -What tasks do you find difficult?
- -What have you done to cope with memory problems?
- -Have you recently been in an accident, fallen or injured your head?
- Your doctor will also complete tests to judge your memory and other thinking skills. You might be referred to a specialist for a memory loss diagnosis such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Test #1 Results: Photo Memory Test
Ages 1-15: 100%
Ages 16-30: 100%
Ages 31-44: 75%
Ages 45-60: 60%
Ages 61+: 45%
Test #2 Results: Shapes and Colors Memory Test
Ages 1-15: 85%
Ages 16-30: 95%
Ages 31-44: 75%
Ages 45-60: 60%
Ages 61+: 42%
Test #3 Results: Letter Groups Memory Test
Ages 1-15: 90%
Ages 16-30: 95%
Ages 31-44: 80%
Ages 45-60: 65%
Ages 61+: 55%
In conclusion, I have learned that age does really affect memory. During my tests, the people who have proved to have a harder time with memorizing were the age group (45-60, and 61+), and the age group that had an easier time memorizing were in the age groups (1-15,16-30, and 31-44). I have concluded that teens and early adults have the easiest time memorizing and remembering.
Memory loss can begin to act as an issue as early as 45 years old, but some people can experience it sooner. As a person grows older, they begin to lose brain cells, which causes their short-term and long-term memory abilities to decrease. Proteins and hormones that protect and repair brain cells decline with age, which also affects memory. Older people experience a decrease in blood flow to the brain, which can also be a cause of impaired memory, which will eventually lead to cognitive skills. This will change the way a person can take care of themselves, take care of others, and continue to do everyday tasks such as cook, shop, drive, and more.
I would like to acknowledge two of my teachers Miss Davidson and Miss Behairy for giving me the opportunity to participate in the science fair this year. I also want to acknowledge my mom for helping me with the planning and completing research for my project. She guided me at the beginning then I was able to complete my project on my own. I also want to acknowledge my brother Mohamad, my friend Aleena, my cousin Maha, my aunt Abeer, and my grandma Salma for participating in the tests for my project.