CogniFit's Science blog: The Past And The Self-Identity

The Past And The Self-Identity


The self-identity of each one of us is based on the past life and in our dreams. The past shows what we have lived, done, learnt, missed – it tells us what we have been capable of. The other dimension is what we would like to live, do, learn. That mostly is expressed in our dreams and aspirations, which take us to a future tense. Together, they define who we are.

Now imagine if you had to live with no memory of anything. In other words, imagine for a moment that the past is erased from your life. You don’t know what you’ve lived, what you’ve been capable of doing, what you’ve learnt. Who are you then? Would you be able to answer that very simple question?

The memory, taken as a whole (sensory, long-term, short-term) is one of the most basic functions of the brain. It allows us to acquire, store, retain and when needed retrieve any type of information. It is indeed our own natural hard drive, with all the files and folders needed to potentially write an autobiography of us.

However it is too often taken for a given. We avoid working and developing it, our brain consistently makes short-cuts to access its content. Sadly and inevitably, over time we lose our ability to organize our folders accurately, to find the information we know is saved in the hard drive, but not easily retrieved. Even if the files are not corrupted and they are still there waiting to be opened, we just cannot find them anymore. We gradually lose our memory, and a part of our life is gone.

A lot has been written about the success of memory training for older adults, and the need to develop these activities through brain fitness to improve their lives every day. It is a true assessment, but not at all complete. A fast memory, easily retrieved and accurately saved, is not only a need of the older – it is indeed a need for everyone, older or younger. It will probably take some time until brain training becomes a basic daily activity, such as eating and sleeping, but the world will become a better place when we’ll get there.

As always, good things come with a bonus … we’ll have then much more time to focus and pursue our dreams and aspirations.