Archive for October, 2010

My wife recently treated herself to an I-Phone and MacBook Pro computer. She has extended her memory to the internet allowing her to explore ideas, places, and events. She has access to applications (“apps”) that allow her to calculate, argue, plan, and daydream. She can also use these devices as memory collaborators. She can track as well as have auditory reminders for appointments. She can pay bills, organize her life, and record events (pictures and videos) that we want to remember. She is delighted. Her I-Phone and computer work for her in the words of David Chalmers as an “extended mind.” Smart phones and computers serve as memory collaborators for many individuals as well as organizations. They have replaced paper calendars and people whose job it is to remind those for whom they work. On the one hand, they allow […]


I’m presenting a seminar titled, “Remembering What Not to Forget” this Tuesday, October 19th at 10 am. It will be held at the Renaissance Academy at the Atrium in Fort Myers. Call 425-3276 for reservations and directions.


People often remind each other of appointments, words, what to buy, and names. For example, at work there are administrative assistants whose job it is to remember for and remind others. These memory collaborators serve as the backbone of organizations. At home, partners are our memory collaborators. So often my wife helps me find words for which I am searching, reminds me of appointments, helps me recall times I have enjoyed, and what to pick up at the grocery store. She also reduces my memory load by managing the checkbook and finances. As with many married couples it is a symphony of collaborative efforts that makes both of our lives easier as neither of us has to remember everything on our own. For those with memory disorders, the need for memory collaboration is no longer a convenience but becomes a […]

A recent report in the journal Brain indicates that ratings from family and friends better predict early signs of memory decline than do traditional medical screenings that are so commonly given to detect and monitor those with possible Alzheimer’s disease or other brain disorders that may be progressive. The questionnaire used in the study is called the Ascertain Dementia 8 and takes only about two minutes to complete. The Ascertain Dementia 8 provides a low cost screen to detect those who need more thorough follow-up evaluation to determine the causes of noted problems. This study is a reminder that a thorough evaluation for memory disorders requires both technical evaluation such as neuropsychological and medical tests and a thorough history. A good history is obtained not only from self-report (which can be tricky if you forget that you forget) but also […]

Alzheimer’s disease is a complicated condition that comes on very slowly over the course of many years.  The first signs may be quite subtle.  The course is irregular with periods of lucid thought interrupted by fluctuations in memory or thinking that are similar to the changes in memory efficiency that happen as a consequence of aging.  This makes early detection of those who develop Alzheimer’s quite difficult and gives rise to a number of beliefs that lead to the attitude that there is nothing you can do. “Aging is a disease.”  Aging is not a disease state that needs treatment.  Many age quite well and have productive fruitful lives into their 90s or even early 100s.  Take for example my wife’s 96 year old aunt who still safely drives, lives alone and is still a whiz at playing cards or […]

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