Myth #1: Our ability to remember declines with age
The truth: The older brain loses some agility, but it gives up nothing in capacity. Remembering a complicated set of directions or a long list of words will require more time and repetition. But if we put in the effort, we’ll retain the information just as well as a younger person, if not better.
Myth #2 Memories are precise photocopies of information or events
The truth: Memories aren’t so much stored as recreated every time you call one up. They live in complex networks of nerve cell pathways throughout the brain. When we commit something to memory, we are “laying tracks” along a unique memory trail. And just like a path in the woods, the more we walk down it, the more firmly established it becomes, and the easier it is to retrace our steps.
Myth #3 Our brains are less sharp starting in our forties or fifties
The truth: Mental agility — though not capacity — actually begins to slip at about age 24. The older we are, the harder we need to work to keep our minds running at a fast clip.