You spaced on that lunch meeting you said you’d attend, or you forgot a promise you’d made to a friend. Minor memory lapses strike us all from time to time. But if your brain seems increasingly unable to hold onto new information, stress may be to blame.

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest chronic stress can lead to memory impairments,” says Jason Radley, an assistant professor of brain sciences at the University of Iowa. Radley’s research has shown high or prolonged spikes in the stress hormone cortisol may “prune” the synapses in your brain’s prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which are essential for certain brain functions, including memory.

Stress and sleep aside, multitasking behaviors can also disrupt your brain’s ability to store new memories, says David Meyer, a professor of psychology and cognition at the University of Michigan who has studied the impacts of multitasking on memory. “When you’re multitasking, that’s interfering with processes that normally would be devoted 100% to doing the mental work that moves info from short term memory into long term memory,” he explains.

Read the full article at Time.