Archive for the ‘Overview’ Category

There Will Be a Hiatus in the HealthyMemory– Blog But It Shall Return

February 12, 2017

There should new no problem finding healthy memory blogs to read in the interim.  There are over 900 posts, none of which can be regarded as being out of date.

Just enter any topic of interest into the healthymemory blog search block.

Here are some suggested search terms:

Relaxation Response
Growth Mindsets
Kahneman
Davidson
Stanovich
Cyberpsychology
Mary Aiken
Flynn
epigenetics
Moonwalking with Einstein

There Will Be a Hiatus in Healthymemory Blog Posts

September 18, 2016

There Will Be a Hiatus in Healthymemory Blog Posts

HM will be attending the International  Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.  HM will also need some time to assimilate and recover.  He should not be missed.  There are 820 posts on this blog.  Use the search box of the blog to find posts of interests.  Here are some suggestions for searches:

myth
cognitive reserve
Herbert Benson
Kahneman
Davidson
Siegel
Mindfulness
Growth Mindsets

Healthy Memory Revisited

April 21, 2016

As the healthy memory blog is coming back from a hiatus, it might be a good time to review its themes.  The first theme is the importance of having a growth mindset.  There are many healthy memory posts on this topic.  Basically it is a matter of wanting to learn and in believing that you can learn.  So a positive attitude is essential along with a desire to learn.  Having a growth mindset is important not only to having a healthy memory,  but also to living a fulfilling life.

Currently there is much concern about the ravages and costs of Alzheimer’s Disease.  An enormous amount of research is going on to develop drugs that will prevent or cure the disease.  These drugs target the amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles that provide the signatures for an accurate diagnosis of this disease.  To this point, the few drugs that have been approved only slow the progression of the disease.  And some knowledgeable people believe that drugs will never be developed that actually prevent or cure the disease (se the healthy memory blog, “The Myth of Alzheimer’s).

A common assertion is that Alzheimer’s cannot be  prevented.  This statement is true if it is referring to the amyloid plaque or neurofibrillary tangles that are needed for a definitive diagnosis.  What is not usually mentioned is that many autopsies have been done on deceased individuals whose brains are wreaked with these neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques, but who never had any of the behavioral or cognitive manifestations of Alzheimer’s.  Whether these people would have ever exhibited any of the behavioral of cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s if they had lived longer will never be known.  The explanation offered for these people is that they had built up a cognitive reserve that prevented the cognitive and behavioral symptoms.  So even though they had the defining neurological substrates of the disease, there were no behavioral of cognitive manifestations.

The healthy memory blog asserts that having and using a growth mindset is key to developing this cognitive reserve.  Of course, exercise and a healthy lifestyle is important.  I find it ironic that physical exercise is always cited as beneficial, but rarely, if ever, the exercise of the most relevant organ, the brain.  Using a growth mindset exercises the brain.  I believe that certain computer games can be useful, along with playing bridge or doing crossword puzzles.  But a healthy memory mindset involves continuing to learn as long as one lives.  Be aware that new neurons continue to be created throughout one’s lifespan. but these new neurons quickly die unless they are engaged.  Engaging with one’s fellow humans as well as with technology (this is transactive memory ) is also essential.

An important part of a growth mindset is understanding how cognition works.  This is the second theme of the healthy memory blog, Human Memory:  Theory and Data. It is important to understand that we have no direct knowledge of the external world, as naive realists believe.  Rather we develop mental models of the external world.  The role of memory is more that one of storing information.  Memory takes in information and constructs models.  The purpose of memory is actually one of time travel.  It is using information from the past and models constructed from that information to predict the future.  Sometimes mental simulations are run to decide among different courses of action.

Another important concept is that of Noble Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahenman.  He has identified two processing systems.  System 1 is named Intuition. System 1 is very fast, employs parallel processing, and appears to be automatic and effortless. They are so fast that they are executed, for the most part, outside conscious awareness. Emotions and feelings are also part of System 1.  System 2 is named Reasoning. It is controlled processing that is slow, serial, and effortful. It is also flexible. This is what we commonly think of as conscious thought. One of the roles of System 2 is to monitor System 1 for processing errors, but System 2 is slow and System 1 is fast, so errors to slip through. System 2 can be thought of as thinking.Kahneman

When new information is encountered, by default, it is believed.  Without this default, our learning would be dangerously slow.  However, whenever the brain encounters information that contradicts what we know, the brain responds and System 2 is activated.  System 2 requires attention and mental effort.  The easiest route is to discard or ignore discordant information.  This is the route chosen by the cognitive miser, who is not willing to expend the effort.  In the long run, the cognitive miser route leads to hardening of the categories, where we do not challenge and remain constant to our beliefs.  Of course, questioning everything would be maladaptive, so this must be done selectively.  But growth mindsets require heavy System 2 processing and the selective reexamination of prevailing beliefs.

Kahneman has identified biases that develop to help us better deal with processing limitations, but which are biases nevertheless.  Our memories also are highly fallible.  Unfortunately, the confidence we exhibit is usually unreliable.  We are flawed information processors and need to always be aware of these flaws and limitations

The mind is constrained by a limited attentional capacity.  The brain remains active 24 hours a day, even when we sleep.  The vast majority of the brain’s processing is unconscious.  Once we try fail to recall something or fail to solve a problem, our unconscious mind will keep working on it, and the solution can pop into our minds unsummoned at a later time.

We need to learn to focus and control this attentional capacity.  This is where mindfulness and meditation become important and they constitute the third theme of the healthy memory blog.  .  There are many posts on mindfulness and meditation, some of which can be found under the category of mnemonic techniques.  Mindfulness and meditation are essential not only to a healthy memory, but also to a heathy body.  Meditation has even be shown to have beneficial epigenetic effects (see the healthy memory blog, “The Genetic Breakthrough—Your Ultimate Mind Body Connection”).

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. 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.

The Healthymemory Blog is Going on a Brief Hiatus

April 12, 2016

Nevertheless, there is plenty to read here.  To find posts of interest to you enter the subject or title into the healthy memory blog search block.  If you do not see the search block, then enter “healthymemory.wordpress.com” into your browser.

Here are some suggestion for topics to enter.

myth
mindset
The Relaxation Revolution
Kahneman
Davidson
Stanovich
Dehaene
mindfulness
meditation

Enjoy!  Grow your mindsets!  and be mindful.

Happy Thanksgiving 2015!

November 25, 2015

If you have read the preceding four healthy memory blog posts, you should be well aware of how wondrous the brain is and how even more wonderful are the memories we have due to our access to this wondrous organ.  Thanksgiving is an ideal time to express thankfulness for our memories.

The best way of expressing this thankfulness is by adopting a growth mindset and to maintain this mindset throughout our lives.  To maintain a healthy memory it is important  not only to use our memories, but also to grow our memories.  Remember those individuals who despite having brains wracked with the defining neurofibril tangles and amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s never exhibited any of the behavioral or cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  Presumably these individuals have built a cognitive reserve as a result of growing their memories.

Mindfulness and meditation also are important for a healthy memory.  They reduce stress and increase our control of our attentional resources.  They also provide the basis for more effective interpersonal relations, which are also important for memory health.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. 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.

Gone to the Annual Meeting of the APS

May 18, 2015

APS is the Association for Psychological Science.   There will be a hiatus in new posts as I attend the meeting.  Of course, I shall still need to assimilate the knowledge acquired and then I need to write new posts.  So the hiatus will not be trivial.

However, there are close to 600 posts here, so there is much to read and consider.  As for as what to read, there are the categories (scroll down the right hand column to find them) to consider.  I think the titles should be obvious with perhaps the exception of “Transactive Memory.”  Transactive memory refers to memories resident in technology and in our fellow human beings.  Then you can use the search block (scroll back up to find the search block with “search this site” in it to find posts of interests.  Here are some search terms for you to consider:

cognitive reserve
emotions
mindfulness
attention
crystalized intelligence
intelligence
dementia
Alzheimer’s
economics
education
contemplative computing
stupidity

And if I were to recommend one blog post to read it would be “The Myth of Cognitive Decline.”

Enjoy and remember, “I shall return.”

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. 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.

There Will Be Another Brief Hiatus in New Posts

February 1, 2015

Nevertheless with more than 550 Healthymemory Blog posts I think there is sufficient reading material.  If I had to recommend one blog post to read it would be “The Myth of Cognitive Decline.”  This can be found by entering this title in the search box of the healthy memory blog.  This search block can be used to identify blog posts on the following topics.

Posts based on whom I regard as the most important cognitive psychologists:  Nobel Prize Winner Kahneman, plus Stanovich and Davidson.  There are posts on the important topics of attention and cognitive reserve.  Other topics of potential interest are The Flynn Effect, mindfulness, meditation, memory champs, contemplative computing, behavioral economics, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Of course, you are encouraged to enter any of your favorite topics into the healthymemory blog search block

Enjoy.  I shall return.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2014. 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.

Gone to the 2014 Meeting of the American Psychological Association (APA)

August 6, 2014

There will be a brief hiatus in new blog posts while I attend, assimilate, and perhaps write some new blog posts. However, with 500 plus posts already posted, I think there is plenty to read and consider in the meantime. The category mnemonic techniques contains not only techniques for directly improving memory, but also posts on mindfulness and meditation. The category transactive memory has posts on how to use technology and interact with our fellow humans to promote memory health and to grow cognitively The category Human Memory Theory and Data has posts on the fascinating and relevant topic of human cognition.

Please use the healthymemory blog’s search block. You might be surprised by the diversity of topics you will see covered.

The 500th Blog Post Has Been Passed

June 25, 2014

It was passed several posts ago. I wanted to continue the sequence of posts based on Greenwood and Parasuraman’s, Nurturing the Older Brain and Mind.before making the announcement.

Just as its title indicates, this blog is dedicated to building and sustaining healthy memories. Post are divided into three main categories. Human Memory: Theory and Data includes posts on memory and cognition. The Mnemonics Techniques category includes not only traditional memory techniques but also posts on meditation and mindfulness. The Transactive Memory category has posts on how interactions with technology and our fellow human beings can foster a healthy memory.

If I had one post to recommend to read it would be “The Triangle of Well Being” Entering “The Distraction Addiction” into the search box, will lead you to posts on how not only to cope with technology, but also howto use it to your advantage. Entering “Davidson” will lead you to many posts about mindfulness, meditation, and how to develop an effective emotional style. You can find posts on memes by entering, appropriately enough,  “meme”, into the search block. You’ll also find posts on economics. You might be surprised by some of the topics you’ll find covered. Give it a try.

Passing 68

May 6, 2014

I am 68 today, and I am still gainfully employed.  Although I could retire, the reason that I’m not retired is that my foremost goal is to have a healthy memory.  Data show a correlation between the age of retirement and the age of onset for Alzheimer’s.  The reason for this is that my job has me engage in the activities that foster the building of a cognitive reserve.  For more information on the cognitive reserve go to the healthy memory blog post “REST, Epigenesis, Neuroplasticity, Cognitive Reserve, and Alzheimer’s.”  Moreover, there is also the incentive of a paycheck.  And I still have the satisfaction of contributing to society.

The only factor that would make me consider moving from my current job was if there was a different position or activity in which I thought I could make a larger contribution to society.  I shall extend every effort to continue to be cognitively, socially, and physically engaged.  As long as I live I shall have a growth mindset.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to aging.  My parents, my brother, and all my aunts and uncles have passed away.  I have also lost contact with most of my cousins.  I had been planning on attending my 50th High School Class Reunion this June, but four of my closest friends in that class have already passed away.  I fear that attending this reunion would be too painful.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2014. 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.

 

Our Future Brains: Forbidden Planet?

March 29, 2014

My favorite science fiction movie is Forbidden Planet. In the movie human space explorers traveled to a planet in a distant solar system 16 light years from earth. They were looking for what had happened to another expedition that had not been heard from for many years. Before they land they are warned by Dr. Morbius, a member of this previous expedition, to stay away. Nevertheless, they do land and discover Dr. Morbius, his daughter, and Robbie the Robot. Dr. Morbius tells them that this planet had previously been occupied by a highly intelligent species, the Krell. The Krell had become extinct due to some mysterious force. Shortly after the human space explorers arrive they experience attacks from an invisible force that kills them. Apparently they are defenseless. One member of the crew undergoes a brain boost using a device developed by the Krell. He comes to understand the source of this deadly force, explains what it is, and then dies from the brain boost. In turns out that this force is the same force that resulted in the extinction of the Krell.
Understanding the nature of this force requires some understanding of Freudian psychology. According to Freud, there are three mental entities, the id, the ego, and the superego. The id is the source of all our primal desires and emotions. The ego is the means for dealing with reality on a rational basis. The superego works as a moral force overlooking both the id and the ego. Unfortunately for the Krell, they learned how to use their mental powers to kill and destroy. So their ids overrode their egos and superegoes resulting in their own destruction. Dr. Morbius was using this same mental force to destroy the visiting humans. Eliminating Dr. Morbius stopped the death and destruction.
So allow me a to take a new science fiction journey. This one with a species that masters the Triangle of Well-Being through mindfulness. The mind develops the brain using neuroplasticity for beneficial synaptogenesis, myleinogenesis, neurogenesis, and epigenesis to an extraordinary degree. The mind uses these enhanced capabilities of the brain to develop and grow beneficial interrelationships. Moreover, mindfulness practices have influenced executive function to include emotional regulation and the focus of attention, as well as emotional and social intelligence. Included here are the anterior and posterior cingulate , the orbitofrontal cortex, and both the medial and the ventral aspects of the preftontal region, including the insula and the limbic hippocampus. People become empowered to work for the benefit of all. Crime becomes extremely rare, and wars are no longer possible. This fantasy is Forbidden Planet with a happy ending. Let us not go the way of the Krell.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2014. 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.

There Will Be A Brief Hiatus in New Posts on the Healthymemory Blog

February 6, 2014

Not that you should notice. There are well over 450 posts here. That should be plenty to read, ponder, and practice. As its title, suggests this blog is devoted to the development and growth of healthy memories. You can find techniques for improving memory and controlling attention. In addition to specific memory techniques, there are posts on meditation and mindfulness. Posts in the category of transactive memory discuss how technology and interactions with our fellow humans contribute to memory health and help us grow our memories. There are also many posts on human memory and information processing. Mental growth and development should be a goal we work towards our entire lives. The earlier this is started, the better, but it is never too late. The development of a cognitive reserve is one of the best measures one can take to avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia. Use the blog’s search box to search for topics of personal interest. You will likely be pleasantly surprised by what you can find.

Happy New Year 2014: Now What About Those Resolutions?

December 29, 2013

Let me begin by making a strong recommendation. If you text while driving, or even if you just use the cell phone while driving, please make it your most important resolution to stop. These activities can lead not only to your own death or disability, but also to the death of others. Although texting is by far the worse of the two, just using your cell phone increases the chance of an accident by a factor of four. Moreover, whether your hands are free or not is irrelevant. Hands are not the problem. These activities produce attentional blindness that can result in accidents. Many of you should have seen the video clip where you are asked to count the number of times a ball is passed among a group of men. During the clip a man in a gorilla suit works across the floor. Many do not even notice his presence. This is a good example of what is meant by attentional blindness.

Although making New Year’s Resolutions is a splendid idea, the problem is that we fail to keep most of these resolutions. One way of improving your success is to cast willpower as a choice. This can be done by carefully choosing the words you use to talk to yourself. Research1 has shown that when participants framed a refusal as “I don’t” instead of “I can’t connotes deprivation, while saying ). So, for example, one could say “I don’t eat fatty foods,” rather than “I can’t eat fatty foods.” Vanessa Patrick, the author of the study said, “I believe that an effective route to self regulation is by managing one’s desire for temptation, instead of relying solely on willpower… Saying,“I can’t” denotes deprivation while saying “I don’t” makes us feel empowered and better able to resist temptation.”1

So it is a good idea to rely on willpower as little as possible. A book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney, explains why. Keeping New Year’s Resolutions results in ego depletion. You can think of ego depletion as being a loss in will or mental energy and it can be measured by glucose metabolism. Whenever you are trying to resist temptation, make a decision, or need to concentrate on certain tasks, there is this loss in willpower or mental energy, such that it is difficult to resist additional temptations, to make more decisions, or to concentrate on additional tasks. So it is unwise to try to give up two vices at the same time. The probability of success if much greater if you address one vice and then later address the other vice.

So the more resolutions you make, the less likely you are to keep them. And the more difficult a given resolution is, the more difficult it will be to keep it. So here is a strategy for you consideration. Decide upon only two resolutions. One should be fairly easy, and the other more difficult. You are more likely to keep the easy resolution, so you will likely have one in the win column. Should you also keep the second more difficult resolution, then you are entitled to a YA HAH moment. This strategy should produce at least a .500 win percentage.

As for what other resolutions one might make, the Healthymemory Blog has some additional suggestions.

Taking at least a forty minute walk at least three times a week.

Learn at least three new words a day (or 21 words a week) in the language of your choice.

Contribute to a Wikipedia page on a topic of interest and continue to build you knowledge in that topic or a new topic.

Find several new friends with a similar interest and pursue that interest with a passion.

Engage in deliberate practice in a skill of interest (See the Healthymemory Blog Post Deliberate Practice”)

Develop and practice mnemonic techniques on a regular basis (Click on the Category “Mnemonic Techniques” and you find a comprehensive listing of mnemonic techniques along with descriptions of the techniques and exercises. Try starting at the bottom of the category and proceeding up. There is a specific Healthymemory Blog post, “Memory Course”, which suggests an order in which the mnemonic techniques should be approached. There are also some websites for learning and developing proficiency in mnemonic techniques. One is www.NeuroMod.org. Click on the Human Memory Site. Then click on the “read more” link under your preferred language. You can open up an account and record and track your progress. Another site is www.Thememorypage.net. Both of these websites are free.)

Begin meditating and start practicing mindfulness. You can find many healthymemory blog posts on meditation and mindfulness, simply enter these terms in the blog’s search block.

Good luck.

1Rodriguez, T. (2013). :I Don’t” Beats “I Can’t” for Self Control. Scientific American Mind, January/February p.14.

© 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.

Some Words from Einstein Worth Pondering

December 24, 2013

I found the following in Mindsight by Daniel J. Siegel (p.255): “In 1959 Albert Einstein received a letter from a rabbi who had lost one of his two daughters to an accidental death. What wisdom could he offered, the rabbi asked to help his remaining daughter as she mourned her sister? Here is what Einstein replied:

A human being is part of a whole. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and foundation for inner security.”

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

November 27, 2013

This is the time of the year when every healthy member of homo sapiens should give thanks for our cognitive resources. The best way of giving thanks is to keep our memories healthy and to continue to develop and grown our cognitive resources throughout our lives. The healthymemory blog is devoted to developing and growing our cognitive resources. There are well over 400 posts devoted to this end.

Perhaps the first step here is to understand our memories and how we process information. The first category of posts, “Human Memory: Theory and Data,” includes posts on theories of memory, how memories work, and how our memory impacts our lives.

The second category of posts, “Mnemonic Techniques” does include specific techniques for improving memory. But it also includes topics that will enhance our memories and our lives. Included here are topics on meditation and mindfulness.

The third category of posts, “Transactive Memory” contains posts on how to use technology and interact with our fellow human beings to enhance our memories and our lives. There is a series of posts on contemplative computing.

Please use the healthymemory blog search block. Enter topics of interests in the block to find posts on these interests. You might be surprised what you find.

© 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.

Another Quiz

July 3, 2013

There will be a brief hiatus in new postings to the healthymemory blog. I believe that there are already sufficient postings (more than 400) to interest readers in the interim. Here is a quiz, should you wish to challenge yourself. Remember the search block on this blog when you are looking for topics of interest or trying to finds answers to the quiz. There is also an earlier quiz, enter “quiz” into the search block, should you want to test yourself further.

  1. What are the five supermemes that threaten the collapse of civilization according to Costa

2.

3

4

5.

      1. What is the importance of ikiga?

      2. What is the best means of preventing or mitigating dementia?

      3. What is crystalized intelligence?

      4. What is the distinction between System 1 and System 2 processing?

      5. What is a paraprosdokian?

      6. What is meant by mindfulness?

      7. What is hyperpartisanship and how can it be reduced?

      8. How can transactive memory aid prospective memory?

      9. What is the relationship between meditation and attention?

      10. Why is attention important?

      11. What is the One Bun Rhyme Mnemonic?

      12. How can you remember historical dates and appointments?

      13. What are the differences between Congressman Tim Ryan and Congressman Paul Ryan?

        1. Can false memories be implanted in memory?

        2. Why is speaking on a cell phone with your hands free still dangerous?

        3. What is the relationship between the average retirement age of a country and the onset of dementia?

        4. What tragedy has resulted from a failure in prospective memory?

        5. What is the Distinctiveness Heuristic?

        6. How does incubation relate to creativity?

        7. How can you boost your brain?

        8. What memory technique was developed by Pierre Herigone”

Healthy Memory’s 400th Post

May 21, 2013

It is difficult to believe that this is the 400th post on the healthymemory blog. These posts have covered a lot of territory. The primary focus of the healthymemory blog is memory. Memory is central to all human processes, both personal and collective. Consequently, an understanding of memory is useful, if not essential, to us as human beings. The healthymemory blog is devoted to cognitive growth. This is important both as a means to human fulfillment and for the building of a cognitive reserve. A cognitive reserve provides the best means of warding off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Consequently, the healthymemory blog should be of primary interest to Baby Boomers, but, in fact, it should be of interest to everyone. The study of human memory is fascinating and cognitive growth should be a goal of everyone, regardless of age.

Blog posts are divided into three categories. The largest is Human Memory Theory and Data. This category includes posts on human memory and everything that human memory touches. The category mnemonic techniques includes specific techniques for improving memory. These techniques can also provide cognitive exercise to foster memory health. The topics of meditation and mindfulness are also included as both meditation and mindfulness foster healthy memories. The subtitle for the healthymemory blog is Memory Health and Technology. This includes transactive memory. Transactive memory refers to extensions of one’s own memory in technology and fellow human beings. It includes posts on how technology can be used to foster cognitive growth and how interactions with our fellow human beings are essential to memory health.

In short, there is much to read here. Older posts are not out of date. Just enter topics of interest to you in the healthymemory blog search block to find posts of interest to you. You just might be surprised.

Quiz

January 23, 2013

The healthymemory blog will be going on a brief hiatus. There are over 350 blog posts to peruse, so there is plenty of material to consider in the absence of new posts. You can test your knowledge of just a small percentage of the material covered by taking the test below. If you want to check your answers or to look up the answers, use the search block for the healthymemory blog.

What are the seven sins of memory?

Agnogenesis

Dumbledore Hypothesis

cognitive reserve

Flynn Effect

fluid intelligence

How to remember numbers

What tragedies have resulted from failures in prospective memory?

How can you improve your prospective memory?

How can you remember names?

What are the five dimensions of personality?

What is meant by emotional style?

What types of meditation are there?

What does psychological science have to offer law and the justice system?

What are some effective study techniques?

What makes a nation intelligent?

What are some solutions to the excessive costs of a college education?

What is Gross National Happiness (GNH)?

What are the two basic types of transactive memory?

What are the distinctions among accessible, available, and potential transactive memory?

How many friends are too many?

Are we incurable Infovores?

How can we cope with complexity?

What are folksonomies?

What are some common sense techniques for improving memory?

Happy Holidays 2012!

December 22, 2012

Besides the wish expressed in the title, all I have to offer you is this healthymemory blog. It consists of more than 350 posts devoted to the topic of growing and maintaining a healthy memory. It has blog posts on memory, how it works, and how it malfunctions. Posts explain how to improve memory performance with mnemonic techniques, and through both human and technological transactive memory. These posts are divided into three categories:

Human Memory: Theory and Data

Mnemonic Techniques

Transactive Memory

Clicking on those categories listed on the sideboard yields the pertinent posts.

Are there specific topics of interest to you? Just enter them into the search box and see what the healthymemory blog has to offer. You might be surprised on the wide range of topics covered. Try entering “emotions,” or “intelligence,” for example.

Healthymemory’s 300th Post

May 30, 2012

There will be a very short hiatus until post 301. Still, there should be plenty of interest here. The Healthymemory Blog is for anyone interested in the processes of human memory and in maintaining and growing a healthy memory. As someone on the leading edge of the baby boomers, I think that this is one demographic group that should be especially interested. The three main categories are Human Memory: Theory and Data, Mnemonic Techniques, and Transactive Memory. Human Memory: Theory and data includes posts about memory experiments and theories about memory and related cognitive processes. Mnemonic Techniques includes posts about classic memory techniques, as well retrieval strategies and study techniques. Different meditation practices are also included here as they have beneficial effects on memory. Transactive Memory includes posts about how technology and interactions with your fellow humans can not only help in maintaining a healthy memory, but also how to grow your memory and enhance your life.

Interested in a specific topic. Try using the search box. Enter “retrieval” and see what you get.

Enter “dreaming” and see what you get. Enter “cognitive exercise.” Baby Boomers, try entering “retirement.”

Enjoy, and maintain and grow your memories.

Age-Proof Your Brain

February 15, 2012

Age-Proof Your Brain: 10 Easy Ways to Keep Your Mind Fit Forever is a recent article in AARP The Magazine.1 Articles like this are summarized periodically in the healthymemory blog. There are many, many things you can do to age proof your brain, but articles like these are helpful in suggesting a manageable handful from which to choose (“31 Ways to Get Smarter in 2012” was a similar posting earlier this year). Some of the ways presented in the AARP article do not readily fall into specific healthymemory blog categories, although most have been mentioned in passing in healthymemory blog posts.

Finding your purpose is a general recommendation strongly endorsed by the healthymemory blog. The AARP article cites a study done at the Rush University Medical Center of more than 950 older adults. The study ran for seven years and it was found that participants who approached life with clear intentions and goals at the start of the study were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease over the following seven years.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is implicit, but not usually specifically mentioned in healthymemory blog posts. It is important to Reduce your risks. Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension are associated with dementia. Diabetes approximately doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. So it is important to follow doctor’s orders regarding diet, exercise and taking prescribed medications on schedule.

It is important to Check for vitamin deficiences. Vitamin deficiences, especially vitamin B12 can also affect brain vitality. Research from Rush University Medical Center found that older adults at risk of vitamin B12 deficiencies, had smaller brains and scored lowest on tests measuring thinking, reasoning and memory.

Diet is another topic discussed infrequently in the healthymemory blog, but as the AARP article notes “Your brain enjoys spices as much as your taste buds do. Herbs and spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, basil, parsley, ginger and vanilla are high in antioxidants.” Antioxidants are important to brain health. Curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric is common in Indian curries. Indians have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s. One theory is that curcumin bonds to amyloid plaques that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Animal studies have shown that curcumin reduces amyloid plaques and lowers inflammation levels. A study with humans found that people who ate curried foods often had higher scores on standard cognitive tests.

Another diet recommendation is to Eat like a Greek. The Mediterranean Diet rich in fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and beans reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 34 to 48 percent in a study done by Columbia University. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are important in heart health and are suspected of also being important for brain health. Generally speaking, what is healthy for the heart is healthy for the brain.

Exercise is another activity that is good for both heart and brain. According to the AARP article, higher exercise levels can reduce dementia risk by 30 to 40 percent compared to low activity levels. People who exercise regularly also tend to have better cognition and memory than inactive people. Exercise helps your hippocampi, subdcortical memory structures well known to readers of the healthymemory blog (See the Healthymemory Blog post, “To Improve Your Memory, Build Your Hippocampus, and do a search using the term “Hippocampus”.) Experts recommend 150 minutes a week of moderate activity, although as little as 15 minutes of exercise three times a week can be helpful. So Get moving.

And Pump some iron. Older women participating in a yearlong weight-training program did 13 percent better on tests of cognitive function that did a group of women who did balance and toning exercises. According to Tereas Liu-Ambrose, “Resistance training may increase the levels of growth factors in the brain such as IGFI, which nourish and protect nerve cells.”

Say “Omm” refers to meditation. Meditation techniques can usually be found under the healthymemory blog post category “Mnemonic Techniques.” The AARP article discusses a study of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). MBSR involves focusing one’s attention on sensations, feelings, and states of mindfulness. This has been shown to reduce harmful stress hormones. At the end of an eight week study MRI scans of participants’ brains showed that the density of gray matter in the hippocampus increased significantly in the MBSR group, compared to a control group. Studies have found that other types of meditation have also been beneficial. Search the healthymemory blog on “meditation” to find related healthymemory blog posts.

The remaining two recommendations fall under the healthymemory blog category “Ttansactive Memory.” Get a (social) life means interact with your fellow human beings for a healthy memory. The AARP articles mentions a University of Michigan Study in which research participants did better on tests of short-term memory after just 10 minutes of conversation with another person. There are two types of transactive memory. One type refers to the memories of our fellow humans, and the practice of seeking them out and swapping information between our swapping memories is beneficial.

Seek out new skills can involve both types of transactive memory: human and technological. So learning new things from our fellow humans, as well as from periodicals, books, and the internet is beneficial to our brains and our memories. The important point is to continue to grow cognitively and to not just do things that you routinely do.

1http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-01-2012/boost-brain-health.html

My Mom’s Gone

February 8, 2012

My Mom has just passed away. Although she made it into her 100th year, she did not make it to her 100th birthday. I was blessed with two fine parents. Our home had lots of love and lots of laughs. My Dad passed when he was 62. He was riding his bicycle when his heart went into fibrillation. He died all too young, and his passing was especially painful for me and my Mom. A number of years ago we moved my Mom to be close by us in an assisted living facility. Although I was not aware of it then, I believe that the onset of dementia had already occurred. Over the years she lost more and more of her memory and more and more of her cognitive functioning. This was very sad. We are largely what we are able to remember. I would search for family memories that she could recall and try to relive them, but over time fewer and fewer were accessible from her memory. Her physical health also declined and there were periodic stays in the hospital. At her last visit to the hospital, it was recommended that she be transitioned to hospice care, as there was no hope of recovery and the only prospect was prolonging her misery. I visited her daily knowing that I was watching her die. The hospice did what they legally could to reduce her discomfort, but it was clear that her existence was not a happy one. So although I am sad to lose my Mom, I am glad that her suffering is over.

I have thought and continue to think about how my Mom’s mental decline could have been prevented or at least mitigated. Professor Stine-Morrow has an interesting theory of cognitive aging1 (also see the Healthymemory Blog Post, “Memory and Aging”). She thinks that as we age, we deploy our attentional resources less since we have compiled so much information that we can cruise along and think less. Her theory fits nicely in to Nobel Lauerate Danile Kahneman’s Two System View of human cognition (see the reason Healthymemory Blog Post, “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” and search on “Two System View” for more posts on the topic). System 1 is fast and requires little mental effort. System 2 is slow and requires mental effort, which can be significant depending on the nature of the thinking.

So the view is that as we age we can become mental couch potatoes. There is a hardening of the categories regarding what we know and what we are willing to consider. To continue the analogy with physical exercise, engaging in System 2 processing , while effortful, provides mental exercise. In turn, this mental exercise might ward off or mitigate cognitive decline. The goal of the Healthymemory Blog is not just to ward off or slow cognitive decline, but to foster cognitive growth throughout our lives.

One way of looking at the Healthymemory Blog is as a tool for fostering System 2 processing. It is hoped that the blog posts themselves foster System 2 processing. The Mnemonic Techniques category includes posts that are specific to improving memory performance. In addition to improving memory performance, these techniques can also provide cognitive exercise. The Transactive Memory category provides posts describing how technology and our fellow human beings can foster System 2 processing.

The Healthymemory Blog is dedicated to my Mom. I am sorry that I did not do more for her. I hope to atone by providing information that will assist myself and others not only in avoiding or mitigating cognitive decline, but also to foster cognitive growth throughout our lifespans.

There will be a brief hiatus in Healthymemory Blog posts. But I trust there is plenty here to foster your System 2 processing.

1Stine-Morrow, A. L. (2008).  The Dumbledore Hypothesis of Cognitive Aging.  Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 295-299.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2012. 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.

31 Ways to Get Smarter in 2012

January 8, 2012

“31 Ways to Get Smarter in 2012” was an article in Newsweek, (2012) Jan 9 & 16, pp. 31-34.  This Healthymemory Blog Post summarizes and categorizes them into the Healthymemory categories:

Human Memory: Theory and Data

Mnemonic Techniques

Transactive Memory

Human Memory: Theory and Data

Eat Tumeric. Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, which may reduce dementia’

Tak Tae Kwon Do. or any physical activity that raises your heart rate and requires a lot of coordination.

Eat Dark Chocolate. Chocolate is supposed to have memory improving flavonoids as does red wine.

Join a Knitting Circle. Refining motor ability can benefit cognitive skills.

Wipe the Smile Off Your Face. The act of frowning can make you more skeptical and analytic.

Eat Yogurt. Probiotics may benefit your brain as they have in studies on mice.

Refine Your Thinking Understand how your systems of memory work (System 1 fast; System 2 slow), and learn how to use them for maximum benefit. (See the Healthymemory Blog Posts, “The Two System View of Cognition,” “Review of the Washington Post‘s “The Aging Brain,”, and “Disabusing the Myth that Older People Do No Have New Ideas”)

Hydrate. Dehydration forces the brain to work harder and can hinder its planning and decision making ability.

Play an Instrument. This can boost IQ by increasing activity in parts of the brain controlling memory and coordination.

Write By Hand. Brain imaging studies had shown how handwriting engages more sections of the brain than typing. It might also help you remember what you have written.

Drink Coffee. Studies have shown that coffee can bolster short-term memory and assist in warding off depression.

Delay Gratification. This can help you focus your attention and increase the probability of achieving your goalss

Mnemonic Techniques.

Build a Memory Palace. Mnemonic techniques can both boost memory and provide cognitive exercise. The Memory Palace is described in the Healthymemory Blog Post “How the Memory Champs Do It.”

Zone Out. Strictly speaking Zoning Out and Meditation are not mnemonic techniques.
They are include under mnemonic techniques as they are specific processes that can enhance memory.

Transactive Memory

Play Words with Friends. Transactive memory involves using both your fellow humans and technology to maintain and enhance a healthy memory.

Get News from Al Jazerra. Using unused sources of information broadens your view and enhances cognition.

Toss Your Smartphone. This involves getting rid of technology that can disrupt your focus and sap your productivity.

Download the TED APP. On the other hand there is information available in technology that fosters cognitive growth.

Go to a Literary Festival is an example of an transactive memory activity that involves your fellow human beings in your cognitive enhancement.

Learn a Language can involve both humans and technology and can genuinely enhance cognitive health.

Play Violent Videogames. Well, perhaps not violent videogames, but appropriately chosen viedogames can quicken reactions and improve multitasking.

Follow These People on Twitter. Although this is an example of transactive memory, the Healthymemory Blog respectfully disagrees and urges you to avoid Twitter (so never mind the “who” part).

Install Supermemo. This software can help you catalog new data and then remind you to remember it before it slips away.

See a Shakespeare Play. Viewing the work of the bard is an example of transactive memory involving interactions with your fellow humans.

Check Out ITUNES U. Top schools put their lectures online at iTunes U in subjects ranging from philosophy to astrophysics.

Visit MOMA. That is the Museum of Modern Art to enhance your cognitive experience.

Become an Expert. Becoming an expert in a subject involves interactions with both your fellow humans and technology.

Write Reviews Online. Be proactive in your use of technology.

Get Out of Town. This involves interacting with humans but remember to bring along your laptop.

In Summary

This should give you some ideas. Feel free to substitute relevant appropriate activities of your own choosing.

Happy Holidays from Healthymemory Blog!

December 24, 2011

The Healthymemory Blog will be taking a brief hiatus until 2012. Although there will be no new posts until 2012, there are 258 posts for your perusal. As its name implies, the Healthymemory Blog is devoted to the promotion of healthy memories. Posts are divided into three categories:

Human memory includes relevant posts regarding how memory works, its strengths and failures, as well as factors and practices that benefit memory.

Mnemonic techniques includes relevant posts on techniques that not only improve recall, but also provide beneficial brain and cognitive exercise.

Transactive memory includes posts on how to interact with fellow humans and to best use technology to promote cognitive growth.

The overall objective is to promote cognitive health throughout our lives, and not to just reduce or stop cognitive decline, but to continue to grow mentally as we age.

A Few Words of Caution to My Fellow Baby Boomers

September 14, 2011

Although I enjoy writing the Healthymemory Blog, I am usually disappointed when I view the number of visits to what I regard as important posts. For example, the preceding posts on Alzheimer’s has not drawn the number of readers that I think these posts deserved. As a psychologist, I understand why these posts are not popular, but I am disappointed nevertheless. People are optimists, so they avoid unpleasant topics. Consider the situation in which we find ourselves. Issues regarding the environment, energy, and the national debt are ignored. People blame politicians, but we should not forget that it is these same people who elected these politicians. Politicians pander to voters by glossing over these issues and being optimistic; voters then vote for them.

Alzheimer’s is not a pleasant topic. The prospect of spending our golden years being unable to recall our past, where we are living, and barely remembering who we are. The Myth of Alzheimer’s is written by one of the foremost experts on Alzheimer’s. He warns us that a magic pill or cure is unlikely to be found, but he provides us with activities that can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. These posts should be of interest to a large number of baby boomers. Even if you are engaging in these risk reduction activities, you probably know fellow baby boomers who are not. Why not sent these posts to those people? And please keep reading the Healthymemory Blog so I can try to keep you up to date.

The Healthymemory Blog is dedicated to these activities. There are many from which to choose. It is important to choose activities that are enjoyable to do. In many ways these activities are similar to physical activity. Sometime I do not feel like going on a bike ride, but after doing so I feel exhilirated and am very glad that I went. I think you will find a similar result for some of the cognitive exercises presented in this blog.

Gone to the Annual Meeting of the APA

August 3, 2011

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. I’ll be meeting friends and colleagues and attending presentations and symposia. I hope to bring back some interesting content for the Healthymemory Blog. There will be a brief hiatus in blog postings while I attend the meeting, assimilate the material, and decompress. Then, too, I need to produce the posts.

In my absence I would remind you that there is plenty of material already on the Healthymemory Blog for your perusal. There are more than 200 posts that provide information on human memory, mnemonic techniques, and transactive memory, which includes the memories of fellow humans and the wealth of information available via technology.

The objective of this blog is to promote brain and memory health, and to maintain and grow effective cognitive functioning. The primary audience for this blog are the baby boomers. I am at the leading edge of the baby boomers, so I have a great deal of personal interest in this topic. I hope, however, that the Healthymemory Blog has general interest. I find these topics fascinating and want to share them with others of all ages. Besides, we all need to be concerned about effective memories throughout our lives, not just when we are studying in school, or later in life when we are concerned about warding off dementia. Our memories define who we are, and they are key to both a successful and a fulfilling and enjoyable life.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2011. 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.

Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year from the Healthymemory Blog

December 23, 2010

 

Enjoy the season, but consider making a New Year’s Resolution not to be a cognitive couch potato. Now “couch potato” has become a cliché for not going out and exercising. A cognitve couch potato is someone who does not exercise his cognitive abilities. Just as failures to exercise the body can lead to physical failures and premature and exacerbated effects of aging, the failure to exercise the mind can result in declines in cognitive performance and premature and exacerbated effects of aging. The Healthymemory Blog provides recent information on the brain and cognitive performance, and how to enhance cognitive performance and and avoid or reduce the effects of aging. Blog posts to this effect can be found under the category of “Human Memory: Theory and Data.” It also provides information of specific techniques used to improve memory performance, mnemonic techniques. Blog posts on the topic can be found under the category titled, appropriately enough, “Mnemonic Techniques.” The category “Transactive Memory” refers to the use of technology and your fellow human beings to grow cognitively. New technology, the internet for example and old technology, books and journals for example, provide the basis for cognitive growth. Moreover, interactions with your fellow human beings can aid not only cognitive growth, but also social growth. As you can see, there is a feast of offerings under each of these topics.

Sometimes I make the claim that you might be able to improve your memory over what it was when you where young. This is especially true it you have never used mnemonic techniques before. Mnemonic techniques might well improve your performance over when you where young. Similarly, you can learn new topics, perhaps even master another language and become someone who has managed to grown head and shoulders over what they once were. So do not become a cognitive couch potato. Either start or continue on the path of cognitive improvement over the coming year.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. 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.

Healthymemory Blog Wishes You a Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2010

And, of course, a healthy memory. The Healthymemory Blog pursues this objective via three themes. One is to provide theory and data about human memory and cognition. Another theme is to provide memory techniques and results bearing upon the effectiveness of these memory techniques and how they may facilitate a healthymemory. A third theme is called Transactive Memory. This theme explores how technology and our fellow human beings can enhance memory health.
     The author of this blog is at the leading edge of the Baby Boomers. Although this blog should be of special interest to Baby Boomers, it should be of interest to anyone interested in the workings of memory, in techniques for improving memory, and in how technology and fellow humans can enhance memory health.
     Look under “Categories” in the right hand border of this blog. One category, Overview, provides a general overview of the Healthymemory Blog that is quite similar to this current blog post. Human Memory: Theory and Data provides information about human memory and cognition. Mnemonic Techniques presents specific techniques for improving memory. It is also thought that employing these techniques, in addition to improving memory, provides exercise to the brain that promotes memory health. One can find an entire memory course under this category. The category, Transactive Memory, provides information on how our fellow humans and technology can promote brain health. You will also find here topics regarding how the internet works and problems and dangers regarding the internet.
     Just click on the category to get to your current topic of interest, Remember that blogs are presented in reverse order. So to get to the beginning of the category, you need to go the the bottom and start from there.
     You should be able to find something of interest. There are 151 postings for your perusal.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. 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.

Healthy Memory is Going On a Hiatus, But That Should Make Little Difference

April 30, 2010

There have been more than one hundred postings to this blog, so there is much to peruse. Although I do make an attempt to make new findings in human cognition available, timeliness is not an objective for the most part. The fundamental premise underlying this blog is that there is no magic road to a healthy memory.

Clicking on the About link in the sideboard will provide information about the blog and the blog’s author. There are three themes that this blog pursues.

One theme is that an understanding of human memory and cognition is fundamental to a healthy memory. Understanding how memory works and how well memory performs at different ages is important. It is also important to have a basic understanding of the basic limitations and shortcomings of human memory so that cognitive errors and biases can be recognized and compensated for.

A second theme deals with mnemonic techniques. Mnemonic techniques have been around since the Ancient Greeks. They are proven techniques that not only boost memory performance but provide exercise that fosters a healthy memory.

The third theme is called transactive memory. Transactive memory refers to those memories that are outside your biological brain. They reside in other human beings and in all types of technology from books and paper to the vast expanses of cyberspace. Transactive memory provides vast resources for cognitive and social growth as well as for a healthy memory.

You can being at the beginning (that is at the bottom of the blog postings as the most recent postings appear at the top of the blog) moving upwards reading blogs of interest. Be aware that to benefit fully from this blog, you need to do more than read the postings. You need to try and practice the mnemonic techniques and pursue topics in transactive memory that interest you.

Another strategy is to go by the links listed under Categories and pursue the topics of most interest to you.

Should these links not be visible on the sideboard, then reenter the healthymemory.wordpress.com url and redisplay.

New postings should be coming in a matter of weeks.

 © Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. 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.

Healthy Memory: You Need Not Pay for It

April 26, 2010

“Brain-training software may be a waste of time. People who played “mind-boosting” games made the same modest cognitive gains as those who spent a similar amount of time surfing the web.”1 This conclusion comes from a study done by Adrian Owen of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK, who tested brain-training software on volunteers recruited through a BBC television program.

There are many commercial programs that claim to contribute to healthy memories, but many are not based on scientific evidence and do not come with experimental evalutions of their effectiveness. When they do come with scientific evaluations of their effectiveness, it is important to note the nature of the control group that was used for comparison. Studies where the benefits of web-surfing were compared against a control group that did nothing special showed the benefits of web-surfing. In the English study where brain-training software was compared against a web-surfing control group, no benefits were found.

So before spending money out of pocket to build a healthy memory, consider what can be done for free. The Healthymemory Blog advocates using the internet as a means of maintaining and building brain health. We advocate going beyond simple web-surfing and building social relationships and learning substantive bodies of knowledge. This is called transactive memory and is one of the three themes of this blog.

We also believe that having a fundamental understanding of the way that memory and cognitive works is helpful in building a healthy memory. Here you build an understanding of memory performance and how it changes as we age. You will also become aware of fundamental shortcomings of memory, the consequences of these shortcomings, and how to avoid them. Accordingly, Human Memory is another one of the three theses of this blog.

A third theme involves mnemonic techniques themselves. These are techniques that have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks that can lead to phenomenal memory performance. Here memory techniques are addressed directly. Using them not only can improve memory, but the act of using them can also improve your ability to concentrate and provide exercise for a healthy memory.

1Callaway, E. (2010). Skills from the mind gym don’t transfer. New Scientist, 24 April, 10

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. 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.

Harry Lorayne: Ageless Mnemonist

March 29, 2010

I was most pleased to come across Harry Lorayne’s book, Ageless Memory: Simple Secrets for Keeping Your Brain Young. Harry Lorayne is probably the foremost mnemonist and advocate of mnemonic techniques. Mnemonic techniques are techniques designed for improving memory. A mnemonist is an expert practitioner of mnemonic techniques. He has demonstrated fantastic memory feats on television and throughout the world. The Book of Genius (Stanley Paul Publishers, 1994) discusses his record of having met and remembered the names and faces of more than 7,500,00 people. He has written many books on memory techniques, the best known being probably being the best seller that he wrote with basketball great, Jerry Lucas, The Memory Book. Ageless Memory discusses most, if not all, of the techniques in The Memory Book, plus a few more. There is a chapter that applies mnemonic techniques to computer tasks. Each chapter includes a “Special Mind-Power” Exercise.

Lorayne provides two reasons for using these techniques. One is the most obvious one, they can improve your memory. The second is that using these techniques can keep your memory healthy and young. Readers of the Healthymemory Blog will recognize that one of the themes of this blog is devoted to memory techniques, and the justification for this theme is the same as Harry Lorayne’s. They will not only improve your memory, but they should also foster brain health and keep your brain young as you age. There is also reason to think that you can improve your memory as you age, so that it is better than you were young.

Healthymemory Blog has three themes. One theme is titled “Human Memory: Theory and Data.” This theme presents data on human memory documenting its fallibility. Your memory was probably never as good as you thought it was. It is important to have a good understanding of memory so that you can be aware of its shortcomings and biases so that you are able to compensate for these shortcomings and biases and to take remedial action.

The second theme is mnemonic techniques, that we have already discussed. Here you can find a wide variety of techniques that not only will improve memory, but will also foster brain health.

The third theme is transactive memory which explores how both technology and fellow humans can aid and enhance memory.

The blog postings under these categories can be found along the sidebar. If you cannot see these categories along the sidebar, type healthymemory.wordpress.com into the URL space for your browser and hit enter.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. 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.

An Interesting Article on Boosting Brain Health

March 16, 2010

There is an interesting article in the March/April AARP magazine. It is written by a physician, P. Murali Doraiswamy, and is titled “Boost Your Brain Health.” This article has been cited in previous postings. It points out our memory strengths as we age. Our crystallized intelligence, our vocabulary and knowledge, can continue to grow and increase. Some impressive examples are cited of memory performance being maintained in spite of large losses in the physical brain. Losses in speed of processing do occur, but they can be mitigated through training and practice.

What I find most impressive about this article is that it does not propose one specific magic bullet for boosting brain health. We are constantly bombarded with adds regarding specific pills that will solve the problem. Or that there is a specific game you can play to maintain cognitive functioning. Avoid gimmicks. No product builds extra brainpower instantly or effortlessly. Both the brain and memory are way too complex to be amenable to a simple solution.

The article recommends the following ten helpful habits: 

  1. Walk and talk. Find a walking partner and a topic to discuss during your walks.
  2. Vary your routine. Try new things. Seek out novelty.
  3. Get smart. Be a lifelong learner and go beyond superficial learning.
  4. Play games. Pick games with several levels of difficulty. Look for timed games where you need to beat the clock.
  5. De-stress. Engage in activities that reduce stress. Meditate, walk, focus and relax.
  6. Sleep. Your brain remains active when you sleep continuing to process and relate the information of the day.
  7. Imagine. Be creative, paint, write (or employ mnemonic techniques). Visit new websites or build your own.
  8. Party. Meaning do not be a loner. Engage socially.
  9. Eat right. You have heard this before. To keep oxygen flowing to the brain consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fish.
  10. Watch your numbers. Blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol.
  11. The Healthymemory blog strongly endorses these recommendations. It provides direct support to habits 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7.

Many scientists believe that the buildup of a “cognitive reserve” wards off mental decline. The Healthymemory Blog strongly subscribes to this view. It supports three themes to this end.

The first theme can be found under the category “Human Memory: Theory and Data.” You will find posts here that will build your understanding of how human memory works. You will also learn of fallacies, biases, and processing errors that are common to all of us. Learning about them will allow you to avoid them. So your performance will not only improve, but will also help you avoid decision making errors that can have adverse effects on your finances.

The second theme can be found under the category of “Mnemonic Techniques.” Here you will find specific techniques for improving your memory. These techniques have the potential not only of improving your memory performance, but of also providing exercises that improve brain health.

The third theme is transactive memory. This little known concept has two parts. One is the reliance upon your fellow humans for improving your memory and brain health. The other is the use of technology for improving your memory and brain health.

To access these themes, click on the appropriate links under Categories on the sideboard.  (If you don’t see the Categories link on the sideboard, then go to healthymemory.wordpress.com)

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. 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.

Boost Your Cognitive Reserve

March 1, 2010

 There is an interesting article in the March/April AARP magazine. It is written by a physician, P. Murali Doraiswamy, and is titled “Boost Your Brain Health.” He relates the story of an accomplished mathematician in his early 70’s. His wife had referred him to Gary Small, M.D., who is the director of the UCLA Center on Aging. He had become cranky and was having some difficulties performing certain calculations. Dr. Small put him through a battery of tests and the man maxed all of them including a memory test and a score of 140 on his IQ test. But when he examined the patient’s brain scan it had all the markings of full-blown Alzheimer’s disease. This case, while unusual, was not unique. Yaakov Stern, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at Columbia University School of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City noted that up to 20% of people autopsied who had no major memory problems are discovered to have had Alzheimer’s.

Of course, the question here is “How can this be?” Usually activities that are good for your brain are also good for your heart, your immune system, and the rest of your body. Doraiswamy report a recently published study of 2,500 people ages 70 to 79 found that 30% of the group saw no delcine in their mental performance or actually improved on cognitive tests over the course of eight years. People in this group were more likely to have some or all of the following healthy traits:

exercised at least once a week

had at least the equivalent of a high-school education

did not smoke

worked or volunteered

lived with at least one other person

Many scientists believe that the buildup of a “cognitive reserve” wards off mental decline. This Healthymemory blog strongly subscribes to this view. It supports three themes to this end. The first can be found under the category “Human Memory: Theory and Data.” You will find posts here that will build your understanding of how human memory works. You will also learn of fallacies, biases, and processing errors that are common to all of us. Learning about them will allow you to avoid them. So your performance will not only improve, but will also help you avoid decision making errors that can have adverse effects on your finances.

The second theme can be found under the category of “Mnemonic Techniques.” Here you will find specific techniques for improving your memory. These techniques have the potential not only of improving your memory performance, but of also providing exercises that improve brain health.

The third theme is transactive memory. This little known concept has two parts. One is the reliance upon your fellow humans for improving your memory and brain health. The other is the use of technology for improving your memory and brain health.

To access these themes, click on the appropriate links under Categories on the sideboard.

The next several posts will address improving attention and cognitive control. These are skills that tend to decline as we age and deserve special attention.

The Healthy Memory Blog

February 11, 2010

Welcome to the Healthymemory Blog. As the name implies, one objective of this blog is to provide information to aid in keeping memory healthy. But we aspire to go beyond keeping memory healthy and pursue means of enhancing and growing memory. To this end, this blog pursues three themes: Human Memory: Theory and Data, Mnemonic Techniques, and Transactive Memory. You can locate the blog posts under each theme by clicking on their titles under Categories on the sidebar.

Human Memory: Theory and Data provides information on how memory works. Having a basic understanding of how memory works is important to maintaining a healthy memory. You might discover that the memory difficulties you are having are normal. Aging Baby Boomers might discover that memory lapses they attribute to aging are not due to aging at all. Here you will also find information on logical errors and biases as well as on health statistics and how to interpret them. You will see that logical errors and biases are the result of a certain type of processing. There are also limits to short term memory that can contribute to erroneous and biased processing. Other errors are due simply to not having the appropriate information in memory or having erroneous information in memory.

Mnemonic techniques are techniques for improving memory. Obviously they address the problem of memory failures directly, but they also have a secondary benefit. The secondary benefit is that they provide good exercises for memory. The call upon using your imagination and recoding information into a more memorable form. You can find a memory course in this category.

Transactive memory is a little known topic. It refers to memories stored outside your individual biological memory. There are two types of transactive memory: human and technical. You do not need to hold all information in your head. You can also get by with a little help from your loved ones and friends. Technical transactive memory includes all the information stored in all types of technology from note pads to books, to the internet. Technical aids can benefit memory recall, but the vast resources on the internet provide a splendid opportunity to cognitive and personal growth.

There is much to read on the Healthymemory Blog. Read what you need and what interests you. Please feel free to ask questions and make comments by clicking “leave a comment.”

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2010. 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.

Healthy Memory Wishes You a Happy New Year!

December 31, 2009

And a prosperous one, especially with respect to personal and cognitive growth. Healthymemory is devoted to cognitive growth and the enhancement of human cognition. Why not make it a resolution to use Healthymemory’s blog to pursue these goals?

The blog Healthymemory pursues three themes. One theme pursues an understanding of how memory works. Such an understanding is basic to a healthy memory. One also becomes aware of the many shortcomings and biases of human cognition. Knowing these shortcomings and biases allows you to make a more objective assessment of your own cognitive performance. It also alerts you to pitfalls and biases, so you can avoid them.

The second theme addresses mnemonic techniques, specific techniques for enhancing memory. Obviously these techniques alone should improve memory. But these techniques also exercise your creativity, imaging ability, and recoding ability, among others. So the techniques are also good memory exercises. The blog post “A Memory Course” provides a syllabus of the postings in this blog that present memory techniques that are common to most memory courses.

The third theme addresses a little known concept, transactive memory. Transactive memory refers to memories that you can access but are not store in your own biological memory. These memories can be found in technological devices, books, journals, computers, in cyberspace, or in your fellow human beings. How to use transactive memory to enhance your own memory and to achieve cognitive growth are all discussed under this theme.

Happy New Year! And please consider becoming a regular visitor to Healthymemory.

This blog will go on a brief hiatus, but it shall return. In the meantime, there is plenty to chew on already.

Note; The blog post, “A Memory Course” , can be found, just as any other post, by entering the title in the search this site box.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2009. 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.

Healthy Memory Wishes You a Merry Christmas

December 24, 2009

And, of course, a healthy memory. This blog is devoted to building healthy memories. It is based on three themes. The first theme is that it it important to understand what memory is and how it works.

The second theme is on specific mnemonic techniques for improving memory. These techniques serve two purposes. The first is obvious, they provide a means for improving memory. But they also require creativity, the formation of mental images, recoding, and the searching of brain structures that provide exercise for both hemispheres of the brain.

The third theme is on transactive memory, a concept that is not generally known or understood. Transactive memory refers to memories that are stored outside of one’s own personal brain. These are memories that can be found in technological artifacts, such as paper, books, computers, and the internet. It also refers to memories held by our fellow humans. Transactive memory provides a means for memory growth and enhancement. These sources are found not only in cyberspace and in technological artifacts, but also in our fellow humans. This latter source provides for social interactions and relationships, which are important for healthy brains and memories.

This blog also contains a holiday gift, a memory course. The syllabus for this course can be found in a post titled, oddly enough, “A Memory Course.”

Happy Holidays!

There is More To Healthy Memory Than That

December 12, 2009

When searching through cyberspace for healthy memory, or something along those lines, much will be found. Much of this will be in regard to food or some type of pill. Much will also be found regarding gadgets or software. Now food, diet, and a healthy lifestyle are important to maintaining a healthy memory. There are also useful gadgets and software that can aid in keeping memory healthy. But, as the title of this post implies, there is more to healthy memory than that.

This blog employs three themes to aid in achieving a healthy memory. One theme concerns theory and data regarding human memory. It is worthwhile to gain some understanding as to how human memory works. Included here is also some understanding regarding the physiology and structures of the brain that are important to memory. Moreover, the very activity of learning is healthful, so why should not some of that learning concern memory and the brain?

There is nothing new about wanting to build better memories. Indeed, as far back as the ancient Greeks memory techniques were a central part of rhetoric. Phenomenal achievements of memory have been recorded. However, with the invention of the printing press and the increasing availability of paper, memory techniques started to fall into increasing misuse. Today, with the smart phones, personal digital assistants, and the internet, one might conclude that we do not need to remember anything. Strictly speaking this is not quite true as one needs to remember how to use these devices and to look information up on the internet. Even so, it seems prudent to have some memory stored internally in our brains. Mnemonic techniques represent another theme of this blog. They do offer a means of improving memory. Beyond that, however, they require us, at a minimum, to exercise our imagination, to recode and relate information, and to use both hemispheres of our brain. These activities in and of themselves should foster healthier memories.

The third theme to this blog is transactive memory. Now transactive memory includes those types of external memory storage that led to the decline of mnemonic techniques. This might be a tad ironic, but it would be a serious mistake to ignore transactive memory and try to use mnemonic techniques to commit all information of interest to our internal memories. Transactive memory provides another avenue for a healthy memory. It does provide a backup to our internal memories. Something that is important should be written down or placed in some type of external storage. And it also provides a means of memory growth. There are so many things to discover and learn in cyberspace!

Transactive memory is not restricted to technology. It also includes other humans. Information discovery should not be restricted to cyberspace. Our fellow humans contain a wealth of information. We need to share information among ourselves. There is also a social benefit here that is important to all and is especially important to healthy aging.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2009. 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.

Baby Boomers and Healthy Memory

December 8, 2009

I was born in 1946. Hence I am at the lead of the baby boomers. I, like many others at the lead of the baby boom, are concerned about aging. For those at the tale end of the baby boomers, this concern might come later, but it will come. These concerns center around health, particular cognitive health. By cognitive health I mean the ability to think and remember clearly and to be able to learn new things. Aging can take these abilities away from us. So, to the extent possible, we need to be proactive in engaging in activities that will preserve and enhance these abilities.

That is the principle objective of this blog. To achieve this objective, this blog pursues three themes. One is to achieve an understanding of human memory and how it works. After all, if you seek to maintain something, it is important to learn something about it. Moreover, human memory is prone to failures and shortcomings. As we age, it is easy to think that these failures and shortcomings are due to aging rather than be part of normal memory processes that we have ignored until now.

The second theme deals with mnemonic techniques. Now mnemonic techniques are techniques that help us remember, so the reason for this theme should be obvious. However, the practice of these techniques can also be beneficial to brain health. These techniques require planning and they involve creativity and imagination, activities that in and of themselves should benefit brain health.

The third theme is transactive memory. Few people know about transactive memory. Transactive memory refers to memories that are stores someplace other than your own brain. So these are memories that can be stored on paper, in a computer, or on the internet. They can also be stored in other humans. Your fellow humans not only supply a means of information storage, but they also provide for social interaction, which is important for effective aging.

Please read previous posts made under each of these memory themes (categories). Please add comments and ask questions. The more input I receive from my readers, the better I can target my blog posts.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2009. 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.

Healthy Memory: Its Maintenance and Enhancement

December 1, 2009

The name of this blog is healthy memory. Accordingly, the objective of this blog is the maintenance and enhancement of memory. There are three themes to support this objective. One theme is about human memory, how it works, and some of the brain structures underlying memory. A second theme concerns mnemonic techniques, specific techniques for improving memory. The third theme is termed transactive memory. Transactive memory concerns memory that you can use, but is external to your personal biological memory. Transactive memory can be found in fellow humans and in technology. The assumption underlying this blog is that all three of these themes are important to the maintenance and enhancment of memory and provide the means to achieving a healthy memory.

First of all, if you want a healthy memory, you should have some understanding of exactly what it is. So under this theme some theory regarding memory is presented. Data on how memory works is also presented. When you read these articles you might discover that memory problems that you either have had or are just noticing as you age are common to all people of all ages. It is also important to understand what brain structures underlie memory, how they change as we age, as well as the compensatory mechanisms that occur as we age.

Mnemonic techniques are specific techniques for improving personal memory. These techniques serve two goals. One is that they provide the means of improving memory. The other is that the use of these techniques likely provide exercise to the brain that is important for its maintenance and enhancement.

Transactive memory provides yet another means of maintaining and enhancing memory. Teamwork and sharing of memory chores among your friends and family not only provides a means of memory enhancement, but it also provides for social interactions that are important to brain health. Making use of technology be it paper, a Personal Digital Assistant, or a computer is yet another means of maintaining and improving memory. Moreover, the internet provides a vast resource for cognitive growth and enhancement.

You can find the blogs under each of these categories. Unfortunately. one of the features of blogs is that they are organized in reverse chronological order. So to start at the beginning, you need to begin at the bottom and work your way up.

There is a comments section under each individual blog. You are encouraged not only to leave comments, but also to raise questions. I would like to have discussions with you and make this blog a. two way street. The more I know about you, the better I can target the blog to address your interests.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2009. 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.