Thursday, November 01, 2007

to improve your memory....

This is very interesting. I think I can handle all that. ;)
You Must Remember This: Tips for Improving Memory
Why do we tend to forget things so easily as we get old? The answer lies with the hippocampus on either side of our brains. Everything we see, hear, and feel is stored in these two cucumber-shaped areas that measure just one cm in diameter and 10 cm in length.
The moment we are born the neuro-cells in the hippocampus start to die off, and around the age of 20 the rate of destruction starts to pick up speed. Some say about 3,600 memory cells disappear in about an hour. But there's no need to worry. While one memory cell generates a few axons, people can create enough axons, through deliberate efforts, to replace dying memory cells. Let's examine a few proven methods to keep our brains young.
1. Walking
By making 210 people with average-sized brains walk briskly three times a week for one hour each session, a research team at Illinois University found that after just three months of walking, the walkers' memory cell activities were on par with those who were three years younger. The team also found that walking stimulates the cervical vertebra which in turn doubles the amount of blood circulated to the brain. Active blood circulation facilitates the release of neurotransmitters, enabling much faster and simultaneous information exchange, said Prof. Lee Dong-yeong of Seoul National Hospital’s neuro department. "This helps to improve long term memory.”
2. Wine
A research team in Auckland, New Zealand, reported that one to two glasses of wine a day can significantly improve people's memory. They say a neuroreceptor called NMDA reacts to the alcohol. "A small amount of alcohol not only stimulates NMDA but also expands blood vessels, thereby facilitating blood circulation," said Prof. Han Seol-heui of Konkuk University Hospital’s neurology department. The antioxidants in red wine also prevent the destruction of brain cells, improving our memories. Still, too much alcohol -- more than five to six glasses a day -- may well destroy the brain cells, deteriorating our ability to remember things.
3. Coffee
Dr. Karen Ritchie of the National Health and Medical Research Center of France conducted research on 7,000 adults over the age of 65 for four years. She found that those who drank more than three cups of coffee a day had a memory deterioration rate 45 percent slower than those who drank one cup or less per day. A research team from Ottawa University in Canada studied 6,000 people living in four different cities from 1991 to 1995, and found out that those who had a consistent intake of caffeine performed better in tests -- by about 31 percent on average -- compared to those without the intake. "Caffeine in coffee and tea stimulates the central nervous system and enhances memory capacity by facilitating the brain's reticular system,” said Prof. Koh Jae-young of Seoul Asan Medical Center’s neurology department.
4. Sleeping
Robert Stickgold, an American psychologist, argued in a paper published in a cognitive neuroscience magazine in 2000 that a minimum of six hours of sleep is needed to fully retain knowledge learned the previous day. "Knowledge acquired during the day gets stored in the temporal lobe while one sleeps," said Dr. Park Dong-seon of Yesong Sleep Center. "It is strongly recommended to sleep after midnight in particular, as the stress hormone that destroys neuro-cells is secreted significantly more after midnight.”
5. Writing notes
The long term memory capacity of our brains has no limit. But there is limited space for short term memories -- such as recently memorized phone numbers, lists of daily tasks, and names of stores passing by the car window. Thus, elderly people with fewer memory cells are better off writing down miscellaneous information like phone numbers and daily tasks the moment they pop up. When useless short-term memories clog our brains, our forgetfulness only worsens.
6. Reading
Reading is a much better way of improving memory than conventionally known methods such as playing cards or chess. After studying the relationship between dementia and recreational activities such as playing chess, cards, watching TV, and reading, a research team at Kyung Hee University Medical Center found that people who read often have a lesser chance of developing dementia. "Reading helps to stimulate the transition between short term memory to long term memory by exercising the ability to understand events that happened earlier and later in a book,” said Dr. Won Jang-won of Kyung Hee University Hospital.
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Mental Aerobics for a Sharp Old Age
People who do a lot of work with their brains, and indeed those who don’t, may benefit from mental aerobics. The exercises, quiz games and the like, aim to improve memory for anyone from elderly people at risk of Alzheimer’s to students. They have been shown to boost the dendrites in brain cells that help the brain process information more effectively and prevent it from getting slow. Dr. Michael Valenzuela, a clinical neuroscience research fellow at the University of New South Wales’ School of Psychiatry who won the Australian Computer Society's Eureka Award this year, says games like wordplay are effective in preventing Alzheimer's disease. His three-year research of 29,000 people over 60 found that those who do plenty of brain work saw the risk of Alzheimer's disease halved while their hippocampus, the area in the brain related to memory, shrank less than normal.
Mental aerobics has been known to the public in advanced countries like the U.S. for 10 years. The UCLA Brain Research Institute and division of Neurophysiology of Duke University took the lead in conducting research on the exercise and produced plenty of programs and books on mental aerobics. Here, the exercise is being introduced in the neurological clinics of university hospitals and private clinics that help students perform better, including Inje University’s Paik Hospital and the Dementia Prevention Center at Hallym University Medical Center in Kangdong, Seoul.
The most effective way to do mental aerobics is to participate in programs offered by brain clinics and receive training in a systematic way, but there are simpler methods. For example, keeping a diary is one good method. To improve memory and practice abstract thinking, bring back what you did in the past and reflect on what you did. In addition, you can become more positive-thinking by planning for a better future. Another good method to practice at home is to write down what you remember after watching news or TV dramas: you may recall what articles you read or what clothes or what hairstyle a character wore in the drama you saw. You can also write down what you ate and how it tasted after each meal.
Korean checkers, chess, card games or computer games that are not too stimulating are also not bad, provided you do it no more than 30 minutes at a time. Staying sedentary for too long can cause abdominal obesity, and that is a cause of other metabolic diseases such as hyperlipidemia that are also bad for the brain. Yeon Byeong-kil, a professor with Hallym University’s College of Medicine, says six out of every 10 patients who come to him because of memory loss or dementia are also suffering chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases related to lifestyle and obesity. "I often see that their MRI pictures show fats accumulated in their brain blood vessels, which kills their brain cells,” he adds.
To maximize the effect of mental aerobics, you may need to change your diet and do light exercise. Getting together with people you know often and complimenting others is also good for your brain. When you skip breakfast, it slows down your brain activity in the morning. You need to have fresh fish more than twice a week and fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Tuna, mackerel, white fish, nuts and brightly colored vegetables are also good for your brain. Processed instant food like fried potatoes, donuts and bacon are not. You should have at least 10 glasses of water a day and choose tea over sodas or coffee. In addition, do stretches to straighten your muscles for more than 5 seconds frequently and walk for between 30 minutes and an hour.
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Train the Brain to Fight Disorders

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