Tag Archives: memories

Carmen induces happiness but no recall

Philharmonic hall set up for a social-distanced orchestraThe day after England was released from its second national lockdown we went to a concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. It was a socially-distanced event attended by about 400 people in a hall with a capacity of 1700. Even members of orchestra sat two metres apart and wore face coverings until they had taken their seats. Nevertheless, it was an uplifting occasion with the conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko welcoming us back at the start of the concert. We listened to three pieces Variaciones concertantes by Ginastera; Il Tramonto by Respighi; and Carmen Suite for percussion and strings by Bizet and arranged by Shchedrin. I really enjoyed the first piece by Ginastera which I had not heard before; however, while listening to Jennifer Johnston singing Il Tramonto, I realised that I had no recall of the previous piece of music.  As I sit writing, I cannot reproduce any of the sounds from the concert in my head, except for a few fuzzy sequences of Carmen that I had heard many times before, whereas I can ‘see’ the layout of the orchestra with Jennifer Johnston and Vasily Petrenko stood in front of them.  My inability to recall sounds might explain why I struggle to speak any foreign languages or to remember the pronouncation of unfamilar words in English.  Despite the fact that I cannot recall the music, the feelings of enjoyment remain as a memory and made me smile as I wrote this post.

 

Sleep reinforces connections

alarm clockFor many students this is examination season and the temptation to study twenty-four hours a day is high.  However, recently reported research has implied that an extra three to four hours of sleep over as little as two days can restore memories.  This implies that a good strategy for exam preparation is to reduce revision in the 48 hours before an exam and sleep instead.

Researchers report that sleep helps the brain to reinforce connections between brain cells, which encode important memories, and to remove connections associated with useless information. Of course from an exam preparation perspective, this does imply that you need to have been studying during the course and hence have memories to reinforce. If you haven’t then stop reading this blog and carry on revising –  if necessary, all night!

For the older folks amongst my readers who sometimes feel they are suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, having an early night or a late morning lie-in might really restore memories.

Sources:

The Hindu, Saturday 25th April, 2015, page 12

Keene AC & Joiner WJ, Neurodegeneration: Paying it off with sleep, Current Biology, 25(6):R234-236, 2015