Short term memory loss

Slowing Down Short-Term Memory Loss

Short-term memory (STM) is the ability of the mind to consciously store, maintain, and manipulate phonological (speech sound), spatial, and visual information for limited periods of time. Therefore, STM contributes to the learning of new information and aspects of speech comprehension and production.

However, STM loss is observed during aging (after 55 years of age) and certain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, schizophrenia, aphasia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

How to Slow Down Short-Term Memory Loss

The hippocampus is a part of the brain that resembles a horseshoe, and which plays essential roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory, and in spatial memory that enables navigation [2]. Like the brain, this structure also undergoes shrinkage that affects its memory consolidation function.

However, the hippocampus is one of the two brain niches that still have the capacity to regenerate due to the presence of adult neural stem cells. Hippocampal neural stem cells have been identified as radial glia-like (RGL) cells that are able to self-renew and make intermediate proliferating progenitors (IPCs) and neuroblasts to generate hippocampal neurons named granule neurons of the dentate gyrus (DG) [3][4]. These highly specialized cells are essential to memory function by decorrelating pattern separation [5].

Luckily, there are several actions that can be made to slow down short-term memory loss. Several studies have shown that exercise, fasting, vitamin B1 and D intakes, and zinc dietary supplementation can help delay this loss.

Exercise has been shown to promote neurogenesis through enhancing the expression levels of a key regulator of neurogenesis, BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a growth factor that belongs to the neurotrophin family and that is widely expressed in the brain and throughout the rest of the central nervous system.

They showed that treadmill exercise in mice and aerobic exercise in humans increase BDNF expression by regulating its gene expression in the hippocampus [6][7].

Although the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the memory-enhancing effect of short-term fasting are not well-known, several studies have shown that short-term fasting (e.g., short-term food deprivation) enhances cognition, including memory consolidation [8].

A study that investigated a cross-time association between midlife dietary vitamin D intake and subsequent cognitive performance in a French general-population sample, showed that Midlife vitamin D intake was significantly and positively associated with improvements in short-term memory [9].

Vitamin B1 or thiamine plays a role in myelin sheath maintenance and the initial symptoms of B1 deficiency include anorexia, irritability, and difficulties with short-term memory [10].

Finally, studies have found that zinc deficiency during the last trimester of pregnancy and during lactation impaired spatial learning and memory of the offspring, suggesting that zinc has a significant effect on memory [11].


Although short-term memory loss is observed during aging and certain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, schizophrenia, aphasia, and post-traumatic stress disorder, several studies reported beneficial roles of exercise, fasting, vitamin B1 and D intakes, and zinc dietary supplementation in slowing down short-term memory loss.


[1] Fournet, N., Roulin, J.L., Vallet, F., Beaudoin, M., Agrigoroaei, S., Paignon, A., Dantzer, C. and Desrichard, O., 2012. Evaluating short-term and working memory in older adults: French normative data. Aging & mental health16(7), pp.922-930.

[2] Kumaran, D., 2008. Short-term memory and the human hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience28(15), pp.3837-3838.

[3] Altman, J., 1962. Are new neurons formed in the brains of adult mammals?. Science135(3509), pp.1127-1128.

[4] Altman, J. and Das, G.D., 1965. Autoradiographic and histological evidence of postnatal hippocampal neurogenesis in rats. Journal of Comparative Neurology124(3), pp.319-335.

[5] Ghosh, H.S., 2019. Adult neurogenesis and the promise of adult neural stem cells. Journal of experimental neuroscience13, p.1179069519856876.

[6] Kim, K., Sung, Y.H., Seo, J.H., Lee, S.W., Lim, B.V., Lee, C.Y. and Chung, Y.R., 2015. Effects of treadmill exercise-intensity on short-term memory in the rats born of the lipopolysaccharide-exposed maternal rats. Journal of exercise rehabilitation11(6), p.296.

[7] Liu, P.Z. and Nusslock, R., 2018. Exercise-mediated neurogenesis in the hippocampus via BDNF. Frontiers in neuroscience12, p.52.

[8] Totani, Y., Nakai, J., Hatakeyama, D. and Ito, E., 2020. Memory-enhancing effects of short-term fasting. The European Zoological Journal87(1), pp.597-602.

[9] Andreeva, V.A., Whegang-Youdom, S., Touvier, M., Assmann, K.E., Fezeu, L., Hercberg, S., Galan, P. and Kesse-Guyot, E., 2014. Midlife dietary vitamin D intake and subsequent performance in different cognitive domains. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism65(1), pp.81-89.

[10] Dief, A.E., Samy, D.M. and Dowedar, F.I., 2015. Impact of exercise and vitamin B1 intake on hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor and spatial memory performance in a rat model of stress. Journal of nutritional science and vitaminology61(1), pp.1-7.

[11] Boroujeni, S.T., Naghdi, N., Shahbazi, M., Farrokhi, A., Bagherzadeh, F., Kazemnejad, A. and Javadian, M., 2009. The effect of severe zinc deficiency and zinc supplement on spatial learning and memory. Biological trace element research130(1), pp.48-61.

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