Culture, gender, and age can have a profound impact on the human organism’s ability to sustain memory and attention. The functions of the mind are not exclusive to one internal set of growth processes, but are the product of environmental, organic, biochemical, and psychophysiological reactions to various cultural phenomena.
Culture highlights and emphasizes certain objects, events, and strategies. These cultural dynamics dictate what events or objects are important and which are not. For instance, the Hawaiian culture has determined that learning the art of paddling a canoe is important. Paddling a canoe was necessary for survival and recreation in their world. This would place a great deal of memory recall around the technique of paddling a canoe. Social, familial, and interpersonal experiences would all be built around the canoe and paddling. In fact, it may be said that certain “coming of age” rituals for young men may have been focused around the canoe. When the paddling was mastered, an age of accountability had been reached. Further, culture can determine what is given priority and what is not. Foods that cultures emphasize can also have a profound impact on the chemical interchanges of the mind. Diets high in fruits and vegetables combined with proteins can create different biochemical reactions in the mind than diets high in starches and carbohydrates.
In terms of gender, it is well known that females can remember the details of events, situations and experiences in greater detail than males. If a powerful emotion is attached to the event memorized, it is even more easily remembered and related. The literature and research is clear that females have a greater ability to remember elaborate elements of experiences. Males attach memory to objects, mental schemata and visuospatial operations.
For the impact of age on memory and attention, we can say that it is more difficult for older people to remember old memories. This is not news! The older the memory, the harder it is to remember it unless it is attached to such a powerful emotion that it is impossible to forget. Also, the older a person becomes, the more difficult it is to recall items from explicit memory. Implicit memory details can be recalled quicker than explicit. Young minds can have an advantage in that the biochemical interchanges that happen in the mind are healthier and more precise. Dendrites, synaptic junctures, and chemical resilience are at their peak. As time passes, nutrient levels differ and toxins enter the body in the form of free radicals, metals, and synthetics that serve to seriously compromise the minds ability to process information.
A note concerning longevity is important. Memory and attention can be enhanced with certain strategies all through the lifespan. Healthy diets, exercise, meaningful tasks, fulfillment of destinies and dreams can have an impact on memory and attention. What is not used can be lost, so it is important for humans to remain vital and engaged all through the lifespan.