"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Trouble with crossword puzzles? Improve your semantic memory

Can you tell the difference between the taste of red wine and rosé? How a few Nineteen Sixties muscle automotive look versus a foreign import? Do you like to grow lilies or tulips? Would you prefer to hear? The dark side of the moon Or “Fly Me to the Moon”? To answer any of those questions, you have to use your semantic memory.

Your semantic memory is your store of facts concerning the world and the meaning of words. That's how the fork is for eating (not twisting your hair) and what color the tiger is. It's each the source of your vocabulary and the way what something does even when you don't know its name—like that little bit of plastic that covers the tip of a shoelace (an aglet). .

Use episodic memory to spice up your semantic memory.

To create recent semantic memories, you have to use your episodic memory to learn recent information. For every week, month or yr, you’ll remember where you were and what you were doing whenever you learned a brand new fact. However, over time, you’ll forget the context and only remember the facts. Once only reality stays, it is a component of your semantic memory.

The left temporal lobe: the dictionary of your brain

Several landmark papers have examined where semantic memory is stored within the brain. In 1996, Two related studies I used to be published in an article The nature

For the primary, researchers enrolled greater than 100 patients with strokes and other brain lesions of their left temporal lobe. (Place your finger in your left temple, just behind your eye—that's where the left temporal lobe is situated.) They asked the patients to call famous people, animals, and tools that were man-made objects. were They found that the placement of brain lesions affected memory. Patients with essentially the most posterior lesions (closer to their eyes) had essentially the most difficulty naming individuals. Patients with essentially the most posterior lesions (toward the back of the top) had essentially the most difficulty naming. And those with lesions between these areas had essentially the most difficulty naming animals.


In one other study, researchers checked out the brain activity of healthy adults as they subjected people, animals and tools to positron emission tomography (PET) scans. As expected, naming people had essentially the most posterior activity, tools essentially the most posterior activity, and activity for animals was in the center.

Dementia can erase words from the dictionary.

More recent research Damage to the anterior temporal lobe has been linked to difficulties understanding what a word means by individuals with some kinds of dementia. Although most individuals with Alzheimer's disease as often Exhibiting this abnormality, it’s essentially the most outstanding in a species. aphasia Known as semantic dementia. When you talk with these individuals, they could start out sounding normal, but you'll find that they consult with all kinds of different objects as “things” or similar words. As you talk more with them, you'll discover that they don't know what certain words mean, like “medicine” or “shoe”—two examples from one in all my patients.

Semantic memory in other brain regions

Just as our knowledge isn’t limited to words, our semantic memory isn’t limited to the left temporal lobe. Associated with knowledge of the best temporal lobe Non-verbal information (like the load of a golf ball vs. a ping pong ball) and Face recognition. Other parts of the brain also take part in semantic memory. For example, Frank Sinatra singing “Fly Me to the Moon” is stored in your auditory association cortex in your superior temporal lobe. Your image of a Chevrolet Camaro is stored in your visual association cortex in your occipital lobes. And the feeling of tulip petals resting in your cheek is stored in your sensory association cortex in your parietal lobe.

Semantic memory doesn’t decline in old age

Can improving your semantic memory aid you do crossword puzzles? Yes. Semantic memory not only stores the meaning of words in addition to non-verbal concepts, but additionally the relationships inside and between words and ideas. For example, your semantic memory of the band Pink Floyd is likely to be linked to the President of the United States in the next way: Pink Floyd's album The dark side of the moon Your semantic memory could also be related to the moon landing, which is then related to astronauts, John Glenn, senators, politicians, and presidents.

Finally, a bit of fine news: research suggests that semantic memory doesn’t decline with normal aging. As you proceed to learn recent information throughout your life, your vocabulary and skill to unravel crossword puzzles can actually improve with age.