What Is Short-Term Memory Loss?


Man with question mark in his brain

WHEN a person experiences short-term memory loss, he or she can remember incidents from 20 years ago but is fuzzy on the details of things that happened 20 minutes prior.
There are a number of causes of short-term memory loss, some which are a result of medical conditions and others that are related to injuries or other outside influences. Treatment options depend on what caused the loss, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
A brain aneurysm may cause short-term memory loss, as well as long-term memory loss. Aneurysms are wek, bulging spots on the wall of brain arteries, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (BAF). Brain aneurysms don’t always rupture, but when they do, they can cause bleeding into the compartment surrounding the brain. The pool of blood clots, increases tpressure on the brain and can irritate, damage or destroy brain cells. Problem with body functions and mental skills may result. In 30 perecent of brain aneurysm cases, memory problems disappear over time, but recovery may take weeks, according to BAF.
A brain tumor may affect memory. Cancer treatment, head trauma or concussion, brain infections and strokes may also bring about short-term memory loss, according to the NIH. A lack of oxygen to the brain can affect short-term memory. Alcohol and drug abuse, concussions and other trauma to the head can impact short-term memory. Medical conditions such as seizures, epilepsy, heart bypass surgery and depression can also impact short-term memory. One of the first signs of dementia is short-term memory loss.
People who have been victims of or witnessed a traumatic event such as a violent crime or accident can also have their short-term memories affected.
Short-term memory is the information that a person is currently thinking about or is aware of. It is also called primary or active memory. Recent events and sensory data such as sounds are stored in short-term memory. Short-term memory often encompasses events over a period anywhere from 30 seconds to several days.
Because short-term memories need to be recalled for a lesser amount of time than long-term memories, the ability of the brain to store short-term items is more limited.
According to “Memory Loss & the Brain,” a newsletter from the Memory Disorders Project at Rutgers University, short-term memory can store anywhere from five to nine items. New information can bump out other items from short-term memory.

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