Memory: Forgetting Is the New Normal

The more we study the workings of memory, the more we understand why it so often fails. The good news: it may be in your control

Jon Feingersh / Corbis

Forgetting is the new normal.

Memory researcher Dr. Scott Small would like to reassure you that you're not losing your wits. Visit him in his lab at Columbia University's Medical Center, tell him how the last time you went to a party, you couldn't put names to faces, how telephone numbers slip your mind, and he'll walk to his blackboard, pick up a piece of chalk and draw two lines. One, he will tell you, represents age. The other is memory. "As age goes up, memory goes down," he says. "Memory decline occurs in everyone."

Anecdotally, that's no surprise. Approach middle age, and it's hard not...

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