The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

Number 148

This issue:

Memory Quicksand


Avoid the “memory quicksand” of self-limiting beliefs about your memory. Reject negative stereotypes and beliefs about aging. Rather see yourself as nourishing your memory with healthy beliefs, good nutrition, and exercise.


If you were taking a memory test, would it make a difference if you thought you were competing against younger people? Against older people? Researchers at Tulane and the University of Kansas gave 85 men and women between 48 and 62 standard word recall task—study 30 words for two minutes and then write down as many as you can recall.

Researchers told one third of the subjects that they were testing their memory against adults over 70. They told another third they were testing the memory against adults in their twenties. Another third just took the test. Those competing against younger adults and those in the control group scored the same. Those competing against seniors did not remember as many words. Why? Apparently the pairing suggested memory deteriorates with age and compromised their performance.

The effect is a common one. After reading that men do better on math tests, women did not perform as well as controls who were not exposed to the article. Likewise men who think they are competing against Asian students on math tests do not perform at their potential.

I’m not suggesting a Pollyannaish denial that memory doesn’t deteriorate some with age. For many the deterioration comes from the effects of disabilities and medications. Even with good health there is some decline. If you stay healthy, there is no reason your memory can’t be quite sharp in your hundreds in areas that you use it. I.e., Don’t expect to easily learn a foreign language at 90 if you only know English. But if you are a crossword buff, you still can be a crossword maven in your hundreds. The same holds for skills like play bridge.

Often people don’t remember a name because they don’t pay attention when they hear the name, don’t rehearse the name, or don’t even believe they are capable of remembering a name. A good memory requires interest, effort (rehearsal and making it memorable), and belief that you can remember. Our expectations and actions have far more influence on our memory than most people realize.


I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

~George Burns


A woman slapped her husband in the back of the head, and yelled, "I found a piece of paper in your pants with Marylou written on it.""Calm down honey," he said, "Remember last week when I went to the dog races? That was the dog I bet on." The next morning, his wife smacked him again. "What was that for?" he complained. "Your dog called last night."

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"Dr. Michael Brickey, The Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include:  Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs). Visit for a free report on anti-aging secrets and a free newsletter with practical anti-aging tips."

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