Humans are not only capable of forming memories but also recalling these memories years later. However, with advancing age many of us face difficulties with forming new memories, a process usually referred to as age-induced memory impairment. Developing an elaborate understanding of this process is a precondition for preventing age-related pathologies at neuronal level. In a recent publication, the team of Stephan Sigrist at Freie Universität Berlin and the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence shows that autophagy, a cellular self-clearing program, has to be kept efficient specifically within the memory forming neurons in order to keep the whole brain in a protected state. Stephan Sigrist holds an Einstein Professorship supported by the Einstein Foundation. NeuroCure is a Cluster of Excellence based at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the medical school operated jointly by Freie Universität Berlin and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Since 2007, NeuroCure has been funded through the German government’s Excellence Initiative, and in 2018 it won funding in the follow-up competition, the German Excellence Strategy.