memory

As a specialist in Alzheimer's prevention, Jessica Langbaum knows that exercising her mental muscles can help keep her brain sharp.

But Langbaum, who holds a doctorate in psychiatric epidemiology, has no formal mental fitness program. She doesn't do crossword puzzles or play computer brain games.

"Just sitting down and doing Sudoku isn't probably going to be the one key thing that's going to prevent you from developing Alzheimer's disease," she says.

When it comes to brain training, some workouts seem to work better than others.

A comparison of the two most common training methods scientists use to improve memory and attention found that one was twice as effective as the other. The more effective method also changed brain activity in a part of the brain involved in high-level thinking.

People with a brain injury or dementia often struggle to remember simple things, like names or places. In research published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, scientists have shown it may be possible to improve this sort of memory using tiny pulses of electricity — if they're properly timed.

A typical person's ability to remember things tends to vary a lot, says Michael Kahana, who directs the computational memory lab at the University of Pennsylvania.

CHARLES TRAINOR JR / Miami Herald

Steve Ligeikis has forgotten what happened to the cat.

“Alek!” The ex-military man scans each corner of the living room, looking for the familiar figure of the orange tabby to appear, purring against his legs.

His voice rises with anxiety on this rainy Sunday afternoon. “Alek!”

Steve’s wife, Emma, flinches by the front door of their two-bedroom apartment in suburban Fort Lauderdale.

One of the odder stories of the day is that of 61-year-old Michael Boatwright, "a Florida man who awoke speaking only Swedish, with no memory of his past, after he was found unconscious four months ago at a Southern California motel," as The Associated Press writes.

www.nealbarnard.org

03/21/13 - Thursday's Topical Currents is with chef, author and syndicated columnist Linda Gassenheimer.  She visits with Dr. Neal Barnard author of Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory.  Also, wine columnist Fred Tasker. That’s Topical Currents, Thursday at 1pm on 91.3 WLRN-HD1.

http://www.nealbarnard.org/

Video courtesy of TED Talks: