Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

How to Develop a Healthy Memory

December 22, 2015

I get the sense that many who read the healthy memory blog are disappointed that advice is not provided on exactly what to do for a healthy memory.   If a vaccine to either prevent or cure Alzheimer’s and dementia is not in the offing, what specifically should they do.  Is there a diet that will save them?  Will physical exercise suffice, and if so, how much?  What online games do they need to play or what specific cognitive exercises need to be done and for how long?

Hints to some of these question can be found, but no definitive answers.  The reason that no definitive answers can be found is that there are no definitive answers.  The two big themes of this blog are to develop growth mindsets and to practice meditation.  Although diet and physical exercise do play a role, growth mindsets and meditation are key in my view.  The healthy memory blog presents many ideas as to how to pursue growth mindsets and meditation, as well as posts that are provided to help one think about different ideas.

No guarantees can be provided that dementia cannot be prevented.  But I strongly believe that not only reading, but pursuing some of the ideas in the healthy memory blog will greatly reduce one’s risks.  They also provide some guidance on leading a more satisfactory life.  Accordingly, the healthy memory blog should be of interest to people of all ages.

© 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.

A Neurocognitive Framework for Ameliorating Cognitive Aging

May 31, 2014

This post is taken from a chapter with the same name, “Ameliorating Cognitive Aging:  A Neurocognitive Framework”  in the book Nurturing the Older Brain and Mind  by Greenwood and Parasuraman.  Brain aging needs to be dealt with.  There is cortical shrinkage and there are white matter changes.  The shrinkage and white matter changes have a small effect on cognitive performance.  Neurotransmitter  dysfunction is a matter of more concern.  Then there are genetic factors.  First of all there is the genotype, then the gene expression from this genotype.  Although some individuals suffer from a genetic predisposition to dementia, these are not deterministic, but rather predispositions.  That is, given such and such experiences or external factors, the likelihood of dementia increases.  Then there are epigenetics, which determine how the genes are actuated.  Epigenetics are affected  by lifestyle and experiential factors such that favorable factors can enhance the probability of favorable genetic readouts.

Turning to the lifestyle and experiential factors, education, exercise, diet, learning and training, and combinations of these factors enhance the likelihood of good cognitive performance throughout one’s lifespan.   More details on these individual factors will be provided in subsequent healthymemory blog posts.

Then there is the matter of neuronal plasticity that includes neurogenesis, synaptogenesis, dendritic arborization, and network reorganization.   An example of network reorganization is the greater use of both hemispheres as we age.  When I was a graduate student I was taught that our nervous system was fixed and could not be modified when damaged or was damaged to aging.  Fortunately, what I was taught as a graduate student has been found to be woefully in error.  These processes can occur well into old age.  But they need to be activated by new learning and experiences for them to occur.

Next there is cognitive plasticity.  Top-down processing strategies can be used to make better use of our accumulated knowledge.  Then there are our well-developed prefrontal lobes for effective executive functioning.

I have often written of the importance of building a cognitive reserve.  Although advice was provided as to how to build one’s cognitive reserve, Greenwood and Parasuraman have provided the first neurocognitive framework to explain how this occurs.

© 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.