The role of anxiety in memory impairment

Anxiety plays a role in memory by mobilizing part of people’s attentional resources. This is because people with anxiety must process both relevant information and information related to anxiety, resulting in increased attentional effort. Thus, anxious subjects have poor performance when the tests contain a large amount of information. This is, for example, the case with very anxious students faced with an exam situation.

Long term memory

When we generally speak of memory, we think above all of the capacity for restitution of information. Yet it is much more than that.
Memory can be translated into three stages: encoding (learning information), storage (retaining it) and rendering (remembering it).


Encoding is the recording of information. Human beings acquire information through the use of their senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch), the information recorded is therefore of the sensory type. The information is processed and then stored. It is especially short-term and working memories that are called upon at this point in the process.

Several issues arise during the encoding of information. The willingness to learn this information is essential as is concentration when learning. Indeed, the context in which we learn information (sound, lighting, etc.) constitutes a major role in the recording of information.

To retain information, you need concentration and an interest in learning this new information. The emotional state we find ourselves in – our mood and emotions – can also interfere with learning. For example, remembering the date of your own wedding is easier than remembering the date of your last hairdresser appointment because the feelings experienced during her hairdressing appointment have nothing to do with those experienced during his wedding. But the most important thing is forgetting, which we don’t think about enough. Forgetting a single piece of information during learning can lead to the forgetting of various information previously processed but henceforth deemed unnecessary.

According to each of us, after forty-five minutes to two hours spent on the same subject, the learning mechanism can become saturated. Our brains are unable to concentrate beyond this limit. Pausing or changing the subject in order to stimulate our interest in novelty is essential.

  • Storage :

Storage corresponds to retaining information previously learned over the long term. The brain will repeat certain information without realizing it, without any conscious repetition learning before. We are talking about consolidation.

Indeed, part of the stored information reaches long-term memory and with the possibility of being reactivated. As with learning, the emotions and feelings experienced have a positive or negative impact during this stage of the memorization process. The storage of information is characterized by a specific network of neurons associated with memory. It occurs in several places in the brain such as the hippocampus (area of ​​the brain that stores memories temporarily) but is held in the cortex for the long term.

As information is processed, proteins are produced and sent to presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons. They strengthen synapses (places of communication between neurons) and create new synapses.

  • Restitution :

It is information that consists of remembering it, remembering it. Restitution may or may not be spontaneous. Our memory is reconstructive. That is, a memory is obtained from different elements scattered around the brain. It’s not like a photo you could take out of an album without having been edited. If restitution proves difficult, we must use clues and context that will allow us to remember. In the event of amnesia, this step in the memorization process fails, but it can also fail for storage.

Short term memory

Sensory and short-term memories are superficial, they do not require any learning since their duration varies from a few fractions of a second to a minute and a half. They are constantly called upon:

  • A face that we meet in the street
  • The color of a just passed car
  • The time we just watched, etc.

Short-term memory receives information from either sensory memory or long-term memory. In the first case, information from the sensory memory which has been sent to the short-term memory will be processed and used if necessary, then will be transmitted to the long-term memory or else degraded and lost depending on its importance. In the second case, information from long-term memory can be reused by short-term memory, often to analyze information from sensory memory.

Sensory memory:

This is often equated with the process of perception, due to its duration, which is only a maximum of two seconds. But this is an inevitable step for information to enter short-term memory. Briefly, it is equivalent to the time of perception of a stimulus (element capable of triggering a phenomenon in the body, in this case a nervous phenomenon). It concerns all the information perceived by our senses. All it does is notice what is around us, items of interest will be scanned by short-term memory. Sensory memory often works without our knowledge, it allows us to remember faces of places, voices, etc.

There are 5 types because we have 5 senses, but we mainly use two which are:

  • Visual (or iconic) sensory memory:

It maintains the information in the visual register. For example, it makes it easier to view a film that is made up of a series of images.

  • Auditory (or echoic) sensory memory:

It maintains information in the auditory register of sensory memory. It is used to remember the beginning of a sentence to write it for example.

Some plants acting on memory and these disorders:

This plant improves cognitive faculties and memory in healthy young people. It improves short and long term memory, as well as antioxidant activity in the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus.

Bacopa also increases brain plasticity and stimulates neuronal dendritic growth. It improves synaptic efficiency associated with learning and strengthens hippocampal synapses, which play an essential role in learning and memory formation.

These arrays have the properties of increasing memory as well as learning capacities.

This herb is known to improve mental performance (alertness and short-term memory) in individuals with cognitive impairments such as dementia (Alzheimer’s disease, multiple infarct dementia or mixed dementia) and cerebral insufficiency.

Saffron is renowned for its protective effect against memory disorders induced by chronic stress.

This herb improves memory, attention and learning.

This essential oil improves memory when inhaled.

This herb promotes memory and learning, it also increases the brain level of glutamate in the hippocampus.

Licorice stimulates memory, by glabridin with anticholinergic effect.



Clémentine. M.

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