Archive for June, 2013

An Early 4th of July Post

June 30, 2013

In the United States the 4th of July is a holiday celebrating its Declaration of Independence. This holiday is certainly warranted, and I am quite pleased with what this declaration started. Unfortunately, the holiday is spoiled for me by those who use it to declare that the United States is the greatest country in the world. First of all, there are facts that would put this claim in dispute. For example, although the United States has, by far, the most expensive medical costs in the world, its health statistics are mediocre or worse. The way the system works is that Americans either receive inadequate medical care, or too much in medical care in the way of over-medication and unnecessary surgery. For a free country, the United States has the highest incarceration rate according to the Wikipedia (716 per 100,000 population). It is possible that this claim is unwarranted as there are no statistics for North Korea.

However, even if the United States were the best country in the world, we Americans should not be overcome with hubris and think of ourselves as living in the best country in the world. Remember, or revisit, the healthymemory blog post “Self-Affirmation Rather than Self-Esteem.” In the 1980s there was a big push in psychology regarding the benefits of self-esteem. Unfortunately, programs boosting self-esteem were found wanting. It has been found that it is self-affirmation rather than self-esteem that is beneficial. Here is the distinction. Self-affirmation means that you have confidence that you can accomplish what needs to be done, that you can improve yourself. You are not afraid of failure, and should you fail you know you can succeed as long as you persist in your efforts. However, if you have high self-esteem, you will likely not perceive the need to improve yourself. Moreover, should you fail, that damages your self-esteem

What pertains to individuals also pertains to countries. Countries that think they are the best or great, are likely not to see the need to improve. Consequently, they will neither improve, nor address their problems. Rather, they are likely to embrace outdated ideologies. However, countries who see a need to improve, even should they already be the best, will pursue efforts to change and grow. In today’s dynamic world, the need to change and grow is more imperative than ever.

When people say they are proud to be an American, I wonder if they remember that pride is one of the seven deadly sins. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” Proverbs 16:18.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Multi-tasking in the Automobile

June 26, 2013

This presentation was done by David L. Strayer of the University of Utah at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science (APS). His important work on multi-tasking in the automobile has been discussed in previous healthymemory blog posts. To bring you up to date, matters have gotten worse. Elaboration on this point will follow later in this blog. Strayer had video of an individual who was not only texting, but also reading on his kindle why he was driving. He had another video of a motorcyclist who was texting while riding his motorcycle in traffic!

One of the problems with multi-tasking is that people who think they are good at it are usually especially bad at it and put others at risk. Research indicates that at any time on the road about 10% of the drivers are on their phones. Research has also indicated that driving and using your cell phone degrades driving performance to the level of those who are qualified to be legally driving under the influence (BAC > 0.08 %). Statistics indicate that a driver is 2.2 times as likely to commit a traffic violation when they are on a cell phone. Hands free laws are irrelevant. This is a matter of diverting a limited supply of attention. A common statement is, “how is this any worse than speaking with the passenger who is in the car with you?” Here the critical difference is that your passenger is likely aware of the situation and can actually assist you. Strayer had videos of people in a driving simulator with a passenger and a cell phone. Their task was to exit at a specific exit. Those who had a passenger did especially well with the passenger helping them to identify the exit. However, those on a cell phone were much more prone to drive past the exit. He also had video of a driver on a cell phone driving write through a red light and crashing into another car. The reason for this is attentional blindness. Speaking on a phone takes away attention needed for driving. There is a demonstration where viewers are asked to watch a video and count the number of passes of a ball completed by people in the video. During this video a man in a gorilla suit walks across the stage. Most people watching this video miss the man in the gorilla suit because their attention is directed at the ball tossing task!

Texting while driving is even worse. If you are going to text while driving, why not just drive off the road and save the lives of those you might kill texting while driving?   Matters are getting worse. Car manufactures are placing systems in cars that allow you to review email, search the web, and compose text messages while driving. Moreover, drivers can select from options and make dinner reservations. All this crap, and I do mean crap, is being placed in new automobiles without any regard for the risks they are creating!

The Memory Factory

June 23, 2013

The Memory Factory is the title of the address delivered by Elizabeth Loftus at the Presidential Symposium of the 2013 Association for Psychological Science (APS) Convention. Research has revealed that 63% of the public believes that memory works like a video camera. Unfortunately, not only the public, but also the courts have believed this. Consequently, many have been convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony because jurors have an erroneous view of the accuracy of memory. Worse yet, parents have been jailed for the sexual abuse of their children as the result of false memories placed by their psychotherapist. The theoretical predilections of these psychotherapists was that repressed sexual abuse as children was the source of their clients’ current psychological problems. In the course of the therapy they unwittingly placed these false memories in their clients’ minds. Can you imagine a worse nightmare that having your child accuse you of sexual abuse that you know never happened? It is truly Kafkaesque! Well it happened many times, and parents, teachers, and childcare specialists were falsely accused, convicted and sent to jail. It was through the research of Elizabeth Loftus and her many painstaking court appearances that eventually overturned these convictions. I think it unlikely that there will be similar convictions in the future.

The reality is that memory is far from being like a video recorder and is highly malleable. Loftus work began simply by showing how modifications in the wording of a statement would induce biases that would induce false recall. Bear in mind that misleading or biasing statements are not needed. The accounts of different witnesses of a crime will vary radically. There is a very good National Geographic television special on memory that illustrates. Loftus also appears on that same program.

Loftus work advanced to the point where it was possible to plant rich false memories in people’s minds. They have been made to think that as children they were lost in a mall or park and later found. They will provide vivid accounts of things that never happened. False memories of having become sick in the past from eating different foods have resulted in people no longer liking these foods. Loftus has also been able to plant false memories of foods that they either did not like or were indifferent to and made people believe that these were foods they liked. Consequently, people started liking these foods. Examples of this were illustrated in a TV special featuring Alan Alda and Loftus.

False memories have also been created in individuals classified as being HSAM, Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. So the best memories that have been found are still vulnerable!

Recent research has used fMRI to try to determine if there were any differences in true versus false memories. No differences were detected. People’s confidence in their memories provides no indication of their accuracy. People can be highly confident in memories that are patently false.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Consciousness and the Association for Psychology Science (APS) Keynote Address

June 19, 2013

I need to preface this blog post with an overview of the status of the concept of consciousness in psychological science. Today the prevalent view seems to be that consciousness is an epiphenomenon. That is, it is unneeded, because all our actions are determined before they enter consciousness. This flies in the face of common sense, because our “folk psychology” believes that our consciousness, our minds, determine what we do. Although there might be factors of which we are unaware, nevertheless we are in charge.

Obviously psychologists who practice “talk” therapy do not subscribe to this, but many academics in the more scientific areas of psychology do. The reader should also understand that for a large portion of the twentieth century behaviorism was the dominant methodology of experimental psychology, and behaviorism focused on behavior and speculation about thinking and the mind was prohibited. Although cognitive psychology emerged in the latter part of the twentieth century, it was still wary of speaking of a homunculus in the head, and the role of consciousness, if any, remained ill-defined.

Gazzaniga‘s Keynote Address was titled “Unity in a Modular World.” He was speaking of the brain consisting of modules performing different functions, and interacting and reorganizing themselves. It reminded me of Minsky’s “The Society of Mind,” except that Minsky was not writing about modules and Gazzaniga was certainly not talking about the mind. He gave examples of how these modules cued each other. He had videos of some of his split brain subjects. When told to do something with the hand controlled by the hemisphere that understood the instruction, the hand was able to do it. However, the hand controlled by the other hemisphere was not able to execute the function without looking at how the hand that had performed the function and then mimicking it. He also showed video of an orchestra performing without a conductor, the message being there is no one in control of our minds. This demonstration would have been more compelling if it were followed by a series of orchestras firing their conductors.

I found Gazzaniga’s address disappointing because someone of his stature could make a strong statement about consciousness, but he didn’t. I think scientific psychology is falling behind the times. Just last year the neurosciences made a statement that on the basis of the necessary brain structures, all mammals, birds, and octupi were conscious (See the healthymemory blog post, “Consciousness in Both Human and Non-Human Animals). A reasonable view is that consciousness is a phenomenon that emerges when the nervous system reaches a certain degree of complexity. That is, consciousness is an emergent phenomenon that has emerged with a purpose, to manage a highly complex nervous system.

Fortunately, there was a later presentation by Edwin Locke of the University of Maryland, “Whatever Happened to the Consciousness Mind.” For Locke, the existence and function of consciousness is an axiom that needs no proof. This is similar to Descarte‘s “I think, therefore I am.” But this implies Cartesian Dualism, which is out of favor in philosophy and psychology. This is unfortunate as it ignores both common sense and contradictory evidence. Meditation can have profound effects on the body. It can allow the regulation of the autonomic nervous system, a capability that I was taught didn’t exist as a graduate student in spite of the existence of meditators who were able to do control their autonomic nervous systems,

I think this shows the immaturity of academic psychology. This period is analogous to the imperious reign of behaviorism. But for cognitive psychology to advance it must embrace the concept of mind and how the mind can affect behavior.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

APS Address on The Psychological Science Behind Hyperpartisanship and What to Do About It

June 16, 2013

This is the Association for Psychological Science (APS) James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award address presented by Diane E. Halpern. Much of Halpern’s research has been on critical thinking. In this address she chose the term hyperpartisanship to describe the condition underlying the current gridlock in the U.S. Congress. She said that it was similar to apartheid in the old South African regime. There blacks were segregated from whites and had their own restrooms and other facilities. This situation also existed in the southern states in the United States before the passage of Civil Rights legislation. In today’s congress, the two parties do not mix. They have their own rooms and there is little grounds for informal interactions among the two parties. This is a relatively new phenomenon that is concurrent with gridlock.

Diane recommended eight specific actions that can be done to remedy the problem of hypertisanship. Understand that these proposals are not just for the politicians. They are also for us citizens, and for the press.

Step 1. Make friends, or at least acquaintances, with people of the opposite political persuasion.

Try to understand why they think as they do, and try, regardless of how fruitless it might be, to acquaint them with your modes of thought.

Step 2. Stay informed. Extend the effort to keep up to date and to understand the positions of others. So don’t restrict yourself just to sources that reinforce your own opinions.

Step 3. Keep a cooperation scorecard. Scorecards are kept for fidelity to conservative positions, and to liberal positions. I know of no scorecard on politicians who make an effort to compromise. Should any reader be aware of such a scorecard, please inform us by leaving a comment. It would be extremely beneficial if the news media kept such scorecards and presented them along with the news. Were this done, I imagine that the gridlock would quickly crumble.

Step 4. Reward evidence-based thinking. Constantly ask what is the evidence supporting an advocated political position. Civilization advanced slowly and regressed until the beginning of science based on evidence derived from research, that the civilization advanced rapidly. Prior to that, progress was restrained by ideology. Unfortunately, ideology still exists and provides the fundamental basis for gridlock.

Step 5. Check accuracy. Check the accuracy of the evidence. The Washington Post features a Fact Check Column. There is also a website FactCheck.org, that is very good. But there are many facts to be checked. Readers are encouraged to present additional recommended sources for checking facts as comments to this post.

Step 6. Reject groupthink. Reward naysayers. Also reward flip-flopping. It indicates thought. I believe John Maynard Keynes said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?”

Step 7. Follow the money. It has been said that the United States has the best Congress money can buy. Unfortunately, this is true, and we must ask whether a given politician’s position has bee bought.

Step 8. Think critically. Given that so much of Halpern’s research has been on thinking critically, this step was clearly obligatory. The problem is that thinking is a System 2 exercise and requires effort. Ideologies are fundamentally System 1 processes that provide easy political positions.

If you have not done so, please read the healthymemory blog post, “A Mindful Politician.” Even if you have read it, you might want to reread it.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Mindful Politician

June 12, 2013

This blog post is inspired by an article in the June 1913 issue of Mindful magazine. The title of the article is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Mindfulness.” The article is about Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio. He is not to be confused with Congressman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. The two are polar opposites. More will be written about Paul Ryan later in this post. Congressman Tim Ryan has recently published a book, A Mindful Nation: How a Simple Practice Can Help Us Reduce Stress, Increase Performance, and Recapture the American Spirit, published by Hay House.
A Mindful Politician practices meditation. The mindful politician is open to new ideas. New ideas will not be rejected out of hand due to pre-existing ideology. This does not imply that the politician does not have pre-existing ideas, but when new information indicates that certain ideas need to be modified or rejected, he will change his mind. The politician is willing to consider the ideas of others and to try to arrive at a compromise, one that benefits from different modes of thought.

A useful way to view political gridlock is to view it as an absence of mindfulness. The enemy of mindfulness is political ideology. Worse yet, is a political ideology that is unbending. Even when provided strong empirical evidence to the contrary, the ideologue will not change his mind.

It is somewhat ironic that the perhaps the best politician exhibiting this ideological trait is Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan has indicated that what motivated him to get into politics was the author Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand was a novelist who formulated the philosophy of Objectivism. It is disturbing that there has been a resurgence of interest in this philosophy as recent events have clearly shown that it is both wrong and outdated. In short, Paul Ryan is an ideologue, and an ideologue is antithetical to an effective democracy.

Ideologies can be seductive. They provide a solution to practically all problems neatly wrapped up by the ideology. I know a colleague who is always happy. He is an ideologue who will offer a solution to practically any problem you might give him, never mind that there is ample empirical evidence to show that his solution is wrong.

Personally, I think the purpose of life is to learn, to adapt, to interact with others, and to solve problems both personally and socially. Apart from a general set of ethical guidelines, we need to continue learning, interacting, and solving problems. It is not unusual for the solution to a problem to be non-intuitive. Nevertheless, we should go where the empirical evidence leads us, not to some ideological solution.

In short, the answer to political gridlock is mindful politicians; politicians who not only say they are mindful, but who actually practice mindfulness.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Stupidity

June 9, 2013

This blog post was inspired by an article by Sally Adee, “Stupid Is as Stupid Does” published in the New Scientist, 30 March 2013, 30-33. It begins with this quote from the 19th century French writer Gustav Flaubert, “Earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is limitless.” Flaubert devoted his final years collecting thousands of examples for a kind of encyclopedia of stupidity. He died at age 58 before this magnum opus was completed.

Were Flaubert alive today, I would wager that he would still be astounded by the vast amounts of stupidity. In spite of advances in both the physical and social sciences, stupidity prevails with people disowning these advances. That is, they disown selected findings, not the products and services that have emerged from these advances. The survival of civilization is put at risk by Costa’s five supermememes (enter “supermemes” into this blog’s search box). And people play lotteries and flock to casinos where the odds are stacked against them.

Adee does address the work of Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues (enter “Thinking Fast and Slow” into the healthymemory blog search box). Their research has documented two systems for human information processing. System 1 is virtually automatic and very fast. System 2 is slow and deliberate. System 1 is fast due to heuristics and practice. It enables us to interact quickly with our environment. Without System 1 we never would have survived. Unfortunately, this speed is purchased at a cost. Occasionally it leads to the wrong decision. System 2 is supposed to monitor System 1 and correct it. But again, System 2 is slow, so it is prone to miss many errors. Many of these errors lead to erroneous decisions regarding risk. The cognitive scientist Keith Stanovich is working on developing a rationality quotient (RQ) to assess our ability to transcend cognitive bias. This RQ would also measure rational intelligence, which defines our ability to calibrate the likelihood of certain probabilities. It is hoped that feedback on our rational intelligence will help us sharpen our meta-cognition, our knowledge regarding the strengths and weaknesses of our own cognitive processes. Although this RQ is much needed, it is still being developed. Nevertheless, we do need to focus on our own meta-cognitive processes.

Our working memory is severely constrained to the number of items (1 to 7 depending on the nature of the items) it can consider. We have limited attentional resources that are needed both to store information into memory and to retrieve information from memory. Moreover, these acts of storing and retrieving information alter the information in memory. And, as we all know, information can be difficult to retrieve.

Philip E. Tetlock is a psychologist who has done an important study of Expert Political Judgment.1 This study was done with the cooperation of Political Experts over a period of twenty years in which he recorded their predictions of political events. Their predictions were poor, virtually worthless. Their expertise enabled them to give impressive reasoned arguments regarding their predictions, but the predictions were frequently wrong or off the mark. This leads one to conclude that perhaps some areas of study are too complex to predict. Nate Silver has written a very good book, “The Signal and the Noise,” on what types of data are amenable to modeling along with suggestions as to how to deal with these difficult types of data. Time will tell whether different areas of expertise can achieve reasonably accurate predictions, or whether there are fundamental biological and cognitive limitations.

In math and science we often make simplifying assumptions or conjectures to proceed with our work. When this is done, there is always the possibility that these assumptions or conjectures are wrong, and we are unaware to what extent the results and conclusions are altered by mistaken assumptions or conjectures. Many phenomena are too complex to be understood or captured in mathematical equations. In these cases, simulations are done so that these complexities are found and understood. Yet all of this is dependent on the accuracy of the simulation.

Adee does not get into the issue of fundamental constraints to our intelligence resulting from biological and cognitive limitations, but there might be a bottom line to stupidity.

Nevertheless, we must do the best we can with the capabilities we have. Hubris is inappropriate either as a species or as individuals. We must take the effort to think and exercise System 2. We should be wary of relying too much on System 1 processes. We need to be wary of ideologies that promise easy answers and circumvent the mental effort needed to understand our world. The knowledge in science is constantly changing and we need to make an effort to keep up with it.

1Tetlock, P.E. (2006) Expert Political Judgment: How Good is It? How Can we Know?

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

APS Session on Cognitive Reserve

June 5, 2013

The title of the session was “Cognitive Reserve in Aging: Can Leisure Activities Increase Neuroplasticity?” and was chaired by Brenda-Hanna-Piaddy of the Emory School of Medicine. The first presentation was by Sara Lazar of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, and was titled, “Can Meditation and Yoga Slow Aging”. She was speaking of mindfulness meditation (on which you can find many healthymemory blog posts) and practitioners of Yoga that is strong on meditation and weak on strenuous positions. Practitioners excelled at a wide variety of cognitive tests, and performance on these cognitive tasks as they aged declined much more slowly than non-practitioners. Measures of the brain, such as cortical thickness, increases in white and gray matter, and the hippocampi, which are critical for memory, were larger than non-practitioners and decline less with aging. Now these people had been practicing for 30 or more years for at least five times per week. Be reassured that you don’t need to practice for this long for meditation to be beneficial. Every little bit helps, but the sooner one starts and the more one practices, the more benefits will be reaped. But it is never too late to begin.

Something I have never seen regards the question of how may victims of dementia or Alzheimer’s can be found among Buddhists Monks and other practitioners of meditation. Are there any? If so, is there data on the rate of incidence. If anyone knows the answer, or where to find the answer, please leave a comment. It will be much appreciated.

Chandramalika Bask, of the University of Texas at Dallas, gave a presentation on the benefits of video games. Apparently the beneficial video games are strategy games, not shooter games. These are real time strategy games that involve a number of tasks and the need to switch between and prioritize tasks. The benefits of playing these games were manifest in both cognitive tasks and in measures of the brain. They clearly slowed cognitive decline. One of the pluses of video games is that they are fun and people continue to play them. People are less likely to stick to regimes of meditation or physical exercise.

Brenda-Hanna-Piaddy made a presentation on the Neural Networks Subserving Enhanced Condition in Older Musicians. Her study involved 140 amateur musicians and non musicians with ages ranging from 59-83. The amateur musicians were divided into two groups, those with from 1 to 9 years of experience, and those with 10 or more years experience. A subset of 24 in these groups underwent fMRIs. The bottom line was that as assessed by cognitive tests and brain imaging, there were clear advantages for the musicians, and the more musical experience, the better. The bottom line was that music is a viable model for cognitive stimulation. Again, I would like to know the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s among retired musicians and aging amateurs. The current goal seems to be is reducing the onset of dementia. It should be realized that conscientious researchers tend to be conservative and do not want to over promise. But I am certain that there are individuals who live to be very old with limited or no cognitive decline. Articles about people who live to be quite old are frequently seen. My question is what is their cognitive status?

The final presentation was by Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas. Her presentation was on the relative benefits of active versus passive social interactions. Although social interactions are generally regarded as beneficial to memory health, the question here was whether the nature of the group would be more beneficial. So there were three groups with productive goals that involved learning something novel. One involved quilting, one involved photography, and one involved both with the time split 50/50 between the two groups. There were three receptive groups made to be as comparable as possible to the three active groups except that their activities involved nothing novel. The fMRI images indicated brain benefits fot the three productive groups. With respect to cognitive performance, the photo group showed improved verbal memory, the Quilting group showed improved cognitive control, and the group that involved both, showed improvements in both verbal memory and executive control.

All these studies are interesting and worthwhile, but I would like to see some retrospective studies in which people of advanced age who were still mentally sharp were studied. Retrospective studies are not very popular because their results are ambiguous. Even if the individuals accounts of his life are accurate, it is still possible that there is some unknown gene or combination of genes responsible for his mental alacrity. I feel that such research would still be informative and such life stories would also be inspirational and could provide good models for people to follow. Web searches on retrospective studies of dementia have not been successful. Again, if you know of any such studies, please comment.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

4 Ways to Fight Alzheimer’s

June 1, 2013

This post is largely based on the article by Dr. Gary Small, “Four Ways to Save Yourself From Alzheimer’s Disease1. There is also a book by Dr. Small, The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. The prospects for either a cure or a vaccine to prevent Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly dim (see the healthymemory blog post, “An Update on the Prospect of a Cure for Alzheimer’s). However, there is much we can do to decrease significantly, if not avoid completely, the ravages of Alzheimer’s. This post outlines 4 ways to fight Alzheimer’s.

One way is to engage in physical exercise. The Mind Health Report notes that strength training can improve cognitive function and brain health. It also cites a study that found that walking briskly for just 20 minutes a day can lower the risk for Alzheimer’s. Walking 40 minutes a day, three times a week has also been shown to be beneficial (see the healthymemory blog post, “To Improve Your Memory, Build Your Hippocampus”). Walking is not the only beneficial activity. Jogging, swimming, and other activities pump oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. Try working these activities into daily routines.

Another way is to manage stress. Stress cannot be eliminated, nor should it be. But too much stress is harmful and increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. Cortisol-induced stress has produced temporary impairment in memory and recall abilities. Fortunately, stress can be managed. According to the Mind Health Report article, “…Dr. Helen Lavretsky at UCLA showed that tai chi can improve markers of inflammation in the blood. She also reported that functional MRI scans showed that meditation actually strengthens neural networks in important brain areas controlling cognition.” There are many healthymemory blog posts on meditation. Actually, meditation is a subtopic of the more encompassing concept of mindfulness. (enter “meditation” or “mindfulness” into the search block of this blog).

` A third way is to eat appropriately. From the article in The Mind Health Report: “For optimal brain performance, combine antioxidant fruits and vegetables with healthy proteins. Researchers at Columbia University have shown that when our diets emphasize proteins from fish and nuts along with fruits and vegetables, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease decreases compared with the risk from diets emphasizing read meat and butter and fewer fruits and vegetables.” For healthymemory blog posts on the benefits of diet enter “diet” into the search block.

The fourth way, and the way emphasized in the healthy memory blog,is through cognitive exercise. Mnemonic techniques are techniques that not only improve memory performance, but also provide beneficial cognitive exercise (See the healthymemory category “mnemonic techniques”). The healthymemory blog category, “Transactive Memory” has posts on how to employ technology and our fellow human beings in building and exercises our memories. Social relationships and interactions are important to a healthy memory. The “Human Memory: Theory and Data” healthymemory blog category provides posts on human memory and behavior., and neuroscience. You will note that the category is widely construed as human memory is at the bottom of all issues involving humans. All posts go to the goal of building a “cognitive reserve” to fight Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is never too early, or too late, to build this cognitive reserve.

1Small, G.D. (2013). Four Ways to Save Yourself From Alzheimer’s Disease. The Mind Health Report, May.