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    Memory and Information Processing Affected by Isolation



    Summary: 30% of people reported changes in cognition, memory, and problems with information processing as a result of social isolation caused by pandemic lockdowns.

    Source: Neurological Sciences.

    Scientists have discovered the ‘Groundhog Day’ effect of lockdown affects our memory and cognitive ability.

    A study on the experience of Italians, who spent their time locked down for about two months last year found an increase in distractions and mind wandering was common.

    The study was carried out on 4000 people which revealed that 30 percent of them had experienced some degree of change in their everyday cognition.

    Some of the common everyday complications were memory problems, such as where you left your mobile phone, trouble in focusing your attention, and losing focus when trying to read a book or watching something online. Literally starting one job and without noticing, going off and starting a second job without finishing the first one.

    It was worse for people who had emotional issues, who had depression, or were stressed and anxious, they developed more of these symptoms. But even for those without such disturbances, these cognitive issues were very common.

    The study provides information about our everyday memory getting blurred during lockdown because we are living through a sort of Groundhog Day, which in turn makes it harder for our brain to lay down memories and recall them later on.

    When the context changes, which it normally does in everyday life when we are moving around throughout the day, then it’s easier to lay down memories and recall them.

    But when you are in lockdown, your chances to move around in the environment and engage in different activities gets very limited. And when there is just a little bit of variation on the same thing each day, that’s when the days do tend to start blurring into each other, because we live in the same context for each day.

    This makes it difficult for our brain to distinguish between those experiences and that’s one of the reasons why we experience memory fog during lockdown.

    Another study of Scotland found that performance was poorer during lockdown, but once restrictions were relaxed, particularly the social isolation, they recovered quite quickly.

    Published: Neurological Sciences.

    Contact: Gabriella Santangelo, Department of Psychology, University of Campania.

    Details: Image source Istock


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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