Thursday, September 15, 2011
Memory has many different components

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

When I was a commanding officer in the Air Force, I had 750 people that worked for me. I thought it was important to know them individually so for that reason, I worked at learning their first names. With the constant turnover of personnel, it was an ongoing process. I usually averaged about 93%. Thus, when I walked around the hospital, I could call a person by their first name just by looking at the last name on their uniform. I was good at this particular memory skill. However, I am poor at remembering faces. If I saw one of the people that worked for me out of uniform at the commissary of BX, it was a different story. Most of the time, I did not know their name. Some of the time I did not even know that they worked at the hospital. What many people do not realize is that memory has many parts to it. The ability to remember names or faces are two examples. Most of us are better at one of these than the other. Long term memory is the skill that we have at remembering things that we use all the time. For example, our home address and home phone number are stored in our long term memory. Short term memory is the skill that we have for remembering things that we use only on occasion. For example, we use it to recall phone numbers that we call less frequently or facts like trivia. We also use it to recall recently learned items. Short term memory is responsible for us remembering just about everything that is not used frequently enough to be in our long term memory bank. Immediate memory is the skill that we use when we repeat things over and over. It is sometimes called parroting because we repeat things like a parrot. The best example of this is when we call for a phone number. If we do not write it down, we repeat it over and over to remember it. Once we stop repeating something, we then need to use short term memory to recall it. For example if we repeat a phone number until we call the number we use immediate memory. If we then get cut off in the middle of the conversation, we would need to use short term memory to recall the phone number. Some people are better at that than others. This is common in children with spelling issues. They learn their weekly words for the spelling test by using immediate memory skills. However, the next week when they have to spell the same word in a paragraph, they do not remember it at all and spell it the way it sounds. There are other different kinds of memory skills. Visual memory is the ability to remember something that we have seen. Some people have problems with this. Other people have what is called a photographic memory which means that they remember everything they see. There is a related skill called auditory memory that relates to remembering things that are heard. People with good auditory memory do not need to take notes when they hear something. Those with poor auditory memory do not remember many things that they hear. Recognition memory is the ability to recognize an answer from a list of possible answers. Individuals who are good at this will excel on multiple choice tests. Those who are not will do poorly. Motor memory is the ability to remember the small steps of a major motor action. An example of this is remembering the parts of hitting a baseball. It involves how you stand, how you balance your weight, your swing and following the track of the ball. All are necessary to get it right. Sequential memory is the ability to remember things in order. Multiplication tables, alphabetical order, carrying numbers in math, telling time and learning the steps to tie a shoelace or knot involve this skill. There are many different kinds of memory. People tend to lump them together. They think they have a good memory or a bad memory. It is more likely that they have some memory skills that are better than others. Most of their memory skills are probably average. It is just a question of who has which skills and to what degree.

Walk hopes to raise $70k The Sussex County Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk and run will be Sunday, Oct. 2, at Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown. Organizer Mary Catherine Hopkins, Bethel, hopes to raise $70,000. For details, call Hopkins at 875-7308. Information about the run is also available at

Relay for Life fundraiser Dr. Marie Wolfgang is again sponsoring a 12 night Winter Getaway Cruise to the Southern Caribbean as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. on Feb. 10. The itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Johns (Antigua), St. Lucia and St. Maarten (Philipsburg). Transportation to and from the dock is available. For a brochure, call or visit Dr. Wolfgangs office at One Cedar Ave. in Seaford, 629-4471. Space is limited.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Strides Against Breast Cancer walk The 2nd Annual Sussex County Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Owens Campus of Delaware Tech Community College, Georgetown. The event is a 5K (3.1 miles) walk, and will also include a 5K run component, which is competitive. Individuals of all ages are welcome to participate. Registration opens at 7 a.m., race begins at 8:30 a.m. and the walk begins at 9 a.m. A registration fee is required for runners. There is no fee required to participate in the walk; however, fundraising is encouraged.

This is your opportunity to honor breast cancer survivors, remember people we have lost, and raise funds and awareness to help eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease. Last year, the inaugural event was a huge success. Over 700 people participated raising in excess of $50,000 towards the fight against breast cancer. For more information or to become involved in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in Sussex County, visit or call 1-800-937-9696.

New hope to prostate patients Cutting edge technology is offering new hope for prostate patients. Thats the message from a Bayhealth urologist during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. According to Bayhealth Urologist Greg Spana, MD, the advent of fiber optics, lasers and surgical robots has enabled surgeons to perform complex operations through tiny incisions or through no incision at all. This has been a game changer for prostate surgeries. In addition to reducing pain and shortening recovery times, minimally invasive surgeries such as da Vinci Robotic surgery, allows for greater precision by the surgeon. Robotic surgery for prostate and kidney cancer provides the surgeon with a magnified 3D view of the operative field and unmatched precision when cutting out tumors and sewing tissue together, said Dr. Spana. The enhanced 3D magnification gives the surgeon a better view, allowing him to make more precise incisions to minimize blood loss and preserve tissue and nerves. Robotic surgeries are also making a dramatic difference for kidney cancer patients who previously received a long open incision on their flank, had part of their ribcage removed, and endured an entire kidney resection. Robotic surgery allows surgeons to preserve most of the kidney while resecting only the tumorous tissue. These patients suffer far less pain and may usually return home within two days. The development of minimally invasive surgeries has optimized outcomes for our patients while allowing them to recover and return to their activities far more quickly. Its revolutionizing the world of surgery, said Dr. Spana.

Hospice hosts conference Delaware Hospices Family Support Center will hold a professional conference, Peace at Last:A Warriors Journey from Wartime to End-of-Life, with national speaker and author Deborah Grassman, RN, MS, NP, on Friday, Oct. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. Deborah Grassman has been a nurse practitioner with the Veterans Administration for 26 years and director of the VA Hospice Program for 15 years.She pioneered the identification of post-trauma effects on the quality of a persons dying process, as well as ways to effectively respond to issues that surface at the end-of-life. Registration fee is $99 per person and $75 per student. Seats are limited, so early registration is recommended. Application has been made for 6.0-7.5 contact hours for nurses, social workers, counselors, nursing home administrators and funeral home services. For more information or reservations, contact Vicki Costa, 478-5707, ext. 1129 or

Stroke Support Group offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals next Stroke Support Group meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 20, 1:30 p.m. at the Seaford Library. This free support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. Modeled from the American Stroke Association, the hospital is engaging with speakers to provide education, community resources and emotional support to those who have been affected by this life-altering event. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support, and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

Free prostate cancer screenings Bayhealth Medical Center will offer prostate cancer screenings free to those who qualify during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September. These screenings are part of Bayhealths continuing efforts to educate the community and help people identify cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. Prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men according to the American Cancer Society. Annual screenings are recommended if youre a man over the age of 50, or over the age of 40 with a family history of prostate cancer in a close relative diagnosed before age 65. African-American men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer and should begin screenings at the age of 40. The Bayhealth Cancer Institute is providing prostate cancer screenings which consist of a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and a digital rectal exam (DRE). The screenings are free to those who qualify but pre-registration is required no later than one week before the screening. For any questions, and to register, call 4305064 or 744-6752. In Milford, screenings will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, at Bayhealth Cancer Center located at 21 W. Clarke Ave.

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospices New Beginnings bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month throughout Sussex County. New Beginnings luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Midge Dinatale or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.