Posts Tagged ‘Human_Memory’

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, 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.