Memory loss is nothing to worry about, says neuroscientist Lisa Genova in a new book, Remember. We forget things to filter out unnecessary or painful information. People with photographic memories are at a disadvantage here – they can “remember in excruciatingly vivid detail the very worst, most painful days of their lives”.
The average person with a healthy brain recalls only 10 events for each year of life. And what we do remember is subject to “creative editing”. Dreams, stories and time warp memory, which is why 75% of wrongly convicted prisoners are initially found guilty on the basis of eyewitness testimonies. “You can be 100% confident in your vivid memory, and still be 100% wrong.”
But we can help our memories. According to Genova, only 2% of Alzheimer’s cases are inherited and unpreventable. The other 98% depend on a series of factors. Low stress levels, a good social life, Mediterranean food, plenty of exercise and sleep all stave off the disease. And we’re all forgetful, with good reason. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma can remember thousands of musical notes by heart, but once left his $2.5m Stradivarius in the back of a taxi.
Seth Rogen’s great pot throwdown
There aren’t many stoners who are up by 7.15 every morning, but Seth Rogen is one, says Stuart McGurk in GQ. The 38-year-old writer and star of comedies such as Superbad and Pineapple Express has up to eight film projects on the go at once, and gets through the detailed schedules his production company sends him by smoking eight or nine joints a day.
Rogen says it keeps his Tourette’s and OCD in check – both of which are more pronounced in his father. Rogen Sr wears the same type of socks, white Champions, every day, and numbers them according to their level of wear and tear. One tic Rogen has inherited from his dad is not throwing away pieces of paper towel, and leaving them to dry before reusing them.
From 13 to 23, Rogen drank “as often as I could without derailing my life”. But then, fed up with always hating himself the following morning, he swapped to taking drugs such as MDMA or magic mushrooms socially. “The next day I don’t have a hangover. I’m not throwing up. Truly, you would be better off doing a hit of acid than drinking.” And, rather than meditate, he makes pottery. At weekends he and his wife venture into the makeshift studio in their garage, fire up a pottery wheel and get lost in it for up to seven hours straight. All while smoking weed, of course.