Seven Memory Problems That Are Considered 'Normal'


Some of these behaviors are not considered indicators of Alzheimer disease or other memory-impairing illnesses.

Although forgetfulness occurs with aging, some symptoms can be classified as a more serious condition. According to an article from Harvard Medical School, any healthy person can experience memory loss or memory distortion at any age.

However, some of these behaviors are not considered indicators of Alzheimer disease or other memory-impairing illnesses.

Seven memory problems that article notes that are considered to be “normal” include:

  • Transience

Transience is when you forget facts or events over time, being most likely to forget information quickly after obtaining it. This memory problem may seem like a sign of memory weakness, but brain scientists regard it as beneficial because it clears out unused memories for newer information, according to the article.

  • Absentmindedness

This occurs when someone doesn’t pay close enough attention. This can also happen when you forget to do something at a prescribed time, such as taking a medication or keeping an appointment.

  • Blocking

The most common memory problem, blocking is the temporarily inability to retrieve a memory. In many blocking cases, this occurs when a person retrieves a wrong memory that is similar to the one they were looking for. Most scientists think that memory blocks become more common with age and that they account for the trouble older people have remembering other people’s names, according to the article. Additionally, research shows that people are able to retrieve about half of the blocked memories within a minute, according to the article.

  • Misattribution

Misattribution occurs when you remember something accurately in part, but misattribute some detail, such as the time, place, or person involved. Another kind of misattribution occurs when you believe a thought you had was totally original when it came from something you had previously read or heard but had forgotten about, according to the article. As we age, we absorb fewer details when acquiring information because of trouble concentrating and processing information rapidly. As we grow older, memories grow older, which are prone to misattribution, according to the article.

  • Suggestibility

Suggestibility is the vulnerability of your memory to the power of suggestion, which is information that you learn about an occurrence after the fact becomes incorporated into your memory of the incident, even though you did not experience these details.

  • Bias

Bias affects our perceptions and experiences when they are being encoded in the brain, with perceptions filtered by our own views on experiences, beliefs, prior knowledge, and our moods. Even while retrieving a memory, your mood and other biases at the moment can influence what information you actually recall, the article notes. Although attitudes and preconceived notions can create bias in memories, there is no research on the brain mechanisms behind memory bias or whether it becomes more common with age, according to the article.

  • Persistence

The persistence of memories can be associated with memories that people wish to forget but cannot. Traumatic events, negative feelings, and ongoing fears are other forms of persistence, with some of these memories accurately reflecting horrifying events, while others may be negative distortions of reality, according to the article. Those who suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are prone to persistent memories.


Forgetfulness—7 types of normal memory problems. Harvard Health Publishing- Harvard Medical School. Accessed October 13, 2020.

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