Memory Lapses Due to Adrefog

Majid Ali, M.D.

I coined the term adrefog for brief memory lapses caused by stress. The term underscores the importance of the effects of a burst of adrenaline triggered by stress on the memory. Under ordinary conditions, a little excess of adrenaline actually improves the function of memory brain cells. However, this advantage is quickly lost with more adrenaline, which tightens brain arteries and reduces the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Less blood also means less crucial brain nutrients.

Healthy people can buffer small changes in adrenaline release without effects. Chronic stress—who does not have it these days— creates a hyperadrenergic state, which increases the risk of adrefog. This explains why temporary memory lapses occur with greater frequency during periods of increased stress.

Adrenaline Hijacks the Neurotransmission of Remembering

In simplest words, brief memory lapses—senior moments of the elderly in common language—occur when the chemistry and energetics of remembering is hijacked by the chemistry of frustration at not being able to remember.

How to Manage Adrefog Moments

I have trained myself to divert my attention to something else if I cannot remember something within ten seconds. It allows my neurotransmitter orchestration to be restored. Nearly always the missing word or thought returns to me within a minute. I know I need not think of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, or any form of memory disorder.


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