Memory as a figure of speech


Just as “attention” or “ADHD” have become catch-all designations in the young, “memory” is often the catch-all designation in the aged. So when an older person comes to me with concerns about “memory,” restricting my evaluation to memory tests is the last thing I will do. Instead, a broader range of cognitive functions should be surveyed. This is particularly so because some of the cognitive functions particularly susceptible to the effects of aging do not go by the names familiar to the general public – for instance “executive functions.”The term “executive functions” is well known to the professionals, but not necessarily to the general public. The term refers to certain aspects of decision making, mental flexibility, impulse control and so on. So when these and other functions become impaired, the person is at a loss for describing them and the all-purpose “memory” wrod comes in handy – but very often misleading…

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