The psychology of smell [video]

April 25th, 2020, or the last Saturday in April is National Sense of Smell Day. Sponsored by the Sense of Smell Institute, this annual event is held in children’s museums and science centers to highlight the importance of olfaction – that which pertains to the olfactory nerve inside the nose.

Psychological smell research by Wallenbergstiftelserna, on YouTube

11 brain-worthy facts about memory [video]

Memory, an interesting topic in psychology and neuroscience, is continually being explored through brain-related studies. Here are 11 fascinating things about it…

Memory is one of the most fascinating topics in Psychology and neuroscience. There are many cognitive experiments that studied the brain – its function and capacity – in order to protect it from deterioration or memory loss.

Here are 11 interesting things to know about the human memory.

  1. Memory is the key ingredient to learning – the mental library of information.
  2. In Psychology, memory is the process of obtaining information through the 3 memory stages.
  3. The memory system consists of 3 components according to the modal model of Atkinson-Shiffrin.
  4. The 3 types of memory are sensory, short-term and long-term, which are further grouped into subcategories.
  5. Sensory memory is the “shortest” term memory.
  6. Short-term memory is what the mind is currently thinking.
  7. Working memory (WM) is what the mind is currently “manipulating”.
  8. WM is further categorized into 3 to 8 components as proposed by the Baddeley-Hitch 3-part model of working memory.
  9. Long-term memory (LTM) is the limitless holding capacity of the brain.
  10. LTM is processed through memory consolidation.
  11. The part of the brain responsible for LTM is the hippocampus.
Memory: Crash Course Study Skills #3 by CrashCourse, on YouTube

Your brain says cheese

Dairy products, such as yogurt and low-fat Camembert cheese, may prevent Alzheimer’s disease due to calcium, vitamin B12, probiotic and other neuroprotective agents.

January 20th is National Cheese Lover’s Day. To all Steve Urkels, come celebrate your favorite dairy – from asiago and Monterey jack to Velveeta and Zufi.

😐

Alright. You might find this confusing… Some say cheese is bad and contributes to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Some say it’s good as it may reduce the risk of cognitive decline and prevent AD. Here’s what I found…

Gouda news

There are old reports that say the bigger or fatter the body, the smaller the brain 🧠 gets. If cheese and yogurt were also reported to help lower the risk of obesity, then that means it will also aid in preventing cognitive decline. (1)

📖

Studies have shown that dairy products, such as yogurt and low-fat cheese 🧀 , may indeed prevent Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to some brain-power components of dairy 🐄 , such as calcium, vitamin B12 and probiotics to name a few (as the others are quite complicated for you to even care about. lol). (1)

🧪

An evaluation of 1,183 participants shows that men 👱‍♂️ who had higher protein intake seemed to have lower stress while low-fat yogurt consumption resulted to good memory recall. Women who consumed low-fat cheese, on the other hand, was reported with decreased cognitive impairment. To summarize, low-fat yogurt and cheese contributed to good brain 🧠 health. (1)

🤓

More research, however, has to be done to understand how all cheese components really work within our brain and body. (1)

Camembert cheese neuroprotection

Camembert cheese has oleamide and dehydroergosterol – two anti-inflammatory compounds found to induce microglia that leads to the protection of neurons in your central nervous system. (1)

Microglia is a collection of cells that are key to overall brain 🧠 maintenance. As primary immune cells of the central nervous system, microglia identify threatening foreign bodies and destroy them. (2)

References:
(1) Ano, Y. & Nakayama, H. (2018, June 30). Preventive Effects of Dairy Products on Dementia and the Underlying Mechanisms. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6073537/.
(2) Microglia. (2018, December 7). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microglia.

Memory as key to learning

Memory is the mental faculty that retrieves information that had been encoded and stored in the brain. This is key to learning.

Memory is the mental faculty that retrieves information that had been encoded and stored in the brain. This is key to learning.

Memory as defined in Psychology here

Memory - depicted as treasure kept and retrieved through time - I Call Her Mnimi | AboutMnimi.com
Memory – depicted as treasure kept and retrieved through time
I Call Her Mnimi | AboutMnimi.com

National Hot Tea Day: brain benefits of tea

January 12th is National Hot Tea Day. Let’s toast our teacups and celebrate by understanding the brain benefits of tea, like peppermint, chamomile, green and black.

January 12th is National Hot Tea Day (with January as the National Hot Tea Month) as declared by the Tea Council of the USA in 2016. Let’s toast our tea cups and celebrate by exploring some types of tea – chamomile, peppermint, black and green – and their cognitive benefits.

Tea and memory

A regular cup of tea is found to be beneficial to your cognitive health.

In a study of 1,003 Japanese participants aged 70 and above, it was concluded that the more green tea 🍵 they consumed, the lesser the cognitive impairment was. In another study of 2,501 Chinese adults aged 55 and above, regular consumption of black (fermented) and oolong (semi-fermented) tea ☕️ “was associated with lower risks of cognitive impairment and decline independent of other risk factors.” (1)

Both black and green tea inhibited an enzyme activity in relation to a brain 🧠 neurotransmitter imbalance that causes Alzheimer’s disease. According to Dr. Ed Okello, lead investigator: “Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, tea could potentially be another weapon in the armoury which is used to treat this disease and slow down its development.” (2)

Dr. Okello, a green tea 🍵 drinker, also said, “The ageing politician, Tony Benn, is a prime example of somebody who drinks tea and has a fantastic memory. He is said to drink 18 pints a day and has a very sharp mind for a man of his age.” (2)

Although there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, tea could potentially be another weapon in the armoury which is used to treat this disease and slow down its development.

Dr. Ed Okello

Brain tea for two: peppermint vs. chamomile

In an experiment conducted by the Psychology Department of Northumbria University, peppermint and chamomile tea had been proven to have contrasting effects… While peppermint tea makes you alert; thereby, improving memory, chamomile tea impairs cognition as it calms you down. (3)

Doris Day – Tea for Two (1950) uploaded by Kudret Laurentius, on YouTube

Picture me upon your knee –
With tea for two and two for tea;
Just me for you
And you for me alone.

Doris Day song, Tea For Two

Peppermint tea

Peppermint contains theanine, an amino acid (a building block of protein), found in green tea. Its combination with caffeine is found to promote better memory and learning; thus, became popular as a nootropic supplement typically found in the form of a pill, drink or gum. (4)

While theanine is good for treating anxiety and high blood pressure, it is also used to make cancer treatment more effective. Similar to glutamate, theanine also transmits nerve impulses in the brain and helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. (5)

Chamomile tea

Like peppermint, chamomile can alleviate anxiety and possibly prevent cancer cells from developing. But in addition, it also ease menstrual cramps and reduce inflammation, as well as “help” prevent blood sugar increase, slow down osteoporosis and relieve cold symptoms (although more research is needed on those last three claims). (6)

Because chamomile calms you down and lowers mental alertness, it will naturally and temporarily impair your memory.

Please note:
Peppermint and chamomile should be taken as supplements; and should not, in any way, replace medicine, especially when prescribed. Please consult your doctor.

References:
(1) Okello, Ed. (2016, September 14). A memorable cup of tea. Retrieved from https://www.ncl.ac.uk/media/wwwnclacuk/instituteofneuroscience/files/A%20memorable%20cup%20of%20tea%20and%20other%20natural%20products%20%20-%20ARUK%202016-Ed%20Okello.pdf.
(2) University Of Newcastle Upon Tyne. (2004, November 1). Tea Could Improve Memory, Study Shows. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/10/041030144110.htm.
(3) Herbs that can boost your mood and memory. (2016, April 29). Retrieved from https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/about-us/news-events/news/2016/04/herbs-that-can-boost-your-mood-and-memory/.
(4) Theanine. (2018, December 30). Retrieved January 4, 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theanine.
(5) Theanine. (n.d.). Retrieved January 4, 2019 from https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1053/theanine.
(6) Villines, Zawn. (2017, November 15). What are the benefits of chamomile tea? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320031.php.

Effects of chewing gum on your memory

Chewing gum is ancient.  Thousands of years ago, the Greeks chewed mastiche while the Mayans and Aztecs chewed chicle to satisfy quench and hunger.  North American Indians masticated spruce tress resin, which they passed on to European settlers.

Up to this day, some people chew gum to clean teeth and freshen breath.  Some chew to curb their appetite and lose weight.  Some also chew in lieu of smoking cigarettes.  Or, maybe some chew because they are bored or . . . just because they want to.

Gum chewing in public are viewed by others as lack of class, especially if you make sounds and blow-pop bubbles.  If you talk to someone while chewing gum, you may be regarded as someone rude.  While it kills a good first impression, a gum chewer may sometimes be viewed as a slacker.

She wasn’t actually chewing gum but her demeanor was very much that of a gum chewer.  Gail Honeyman

This brings me back to the time when I took my first California driving test…

It was one late afternoon and DMV was about to close. I think I was the last customer. I don’t usually chew gum but I did anyway only because I was stress-hungry and that was the only thing my husband could get for me.

To make the story short, that Pasadena DMV guy named Bob (yes, I wrote it!) must have made an impression that I was a rude slacker so his attitude towards me was VERY unfavorable. He was so rude that when I was not able to immediately turn right back to the DMV parking lot, he suddenly pulled my hand brake. Also, throughout our driving course up to the time he forcefully stopped me, he even repeatedly said that I don’t know how to drive. I should’ve reported him at once but the office was closing and I was too tired and tensed to make a move.

Going back to gum chewing, yes, I am not a fan of that.  If I do it in public (with the exception of my DMV incident), I felt kinda like an unprofessional masticating goat . . . (LOL) . . . until I learned of this . . .

Chewing gum and your memory

A number of curious experiments on cognitive effects of gum chewing served to answer the question below…

Is it true that chewing gum helps you remember?

The answer is “nearly” a yes, chewing gum helps you remember and most neuroscientists share the same findings.  The simplest thing of chewing gum can improve memory because, just like any physical activity, it can:

  • increase heart rate
  • increase blood pressure
  • increase cortisol levels
  • increase cerebral blood flow

…thereby, making the brain more active and alert.

Lucy Wilkinson, Andrew Scholey and Keith Wesnes of University of Northumbria at Newcastle, England, studied 75 healthy adult participants.  They were randomly assigned to either chewing sugar-free Wrigley’s Extra Spearmint, pretend-chewing and no chewing at all.  Their cognitive analysis showed that actual gum chewing can improve both *working memory* and *episodic memory* as compared with the other two activities.

Richard Stephens and Richard J. Tunney argued that there is improved cognitive performance with gum-chewing because of glucose going up the brain.  Just like any other motor function, as also reported by numerous neuroscientists, the act of chewing gum elevates both heart rate and blood pressure, cortisol levels and cerebral blood flow, thereby causing arousal and alertness.  Both also concluded that, with the exception of the *executive function*, not only does chewing gum enhances working memory and long-term episodic memory, but it also improves language-based attention and perceptual processing speed.

Serge Onyper, associate professor of psychology at St. Lawrence University, New York, experimented on almost 100 students.  He found out that those who chewed gum 5 minutes before cognitive testing did better than those who did not.  But he also noted that “mastication-induced arousal” only lasted for about 20 minutes.

Andrew Smith of Cardiff University, United Kingdom, with his 133 volunteers, reported greater alertness and more positive mood.  Gum chewers showed decreased levels of stress such that they are able to complete more academic tasks.

But TMJ sufferers, be warned…

Failed tests

There are also reports that indicate no correlation between gum-chewing and memory.

In a re-examination conducted by Christopher Miles and Andrew J. Johnson of Cardiff University, United Kingdom,

So, there you have it . . . for now . . . until the next experiment results…

Chewing Gum Trivia

For your optional memory exercise, below are some names tied to the chewing gum industry.  Should you decide not to skip this, go ahead and chew a sugar-free gum to maybe enhance you memory.

  • John B. Curtis – developed his State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum
  • Thomas Adams – produced his Adams New York Chewing Gum, which gave rise to the modern chewing gum industry
  • Frank Fleer and Henry Fleer – turned their chicle into Chiclets
  • William Wrigley, Jr. – sold his Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint
  • Walter Diemer – re-concocted Fleer’s chicle gum formula by accident and founded a non-sticky bubble gum formula called Dubble Bubble.

Whatever you say, old boy, just look after yourself.  And whatever you do, don’t swallow the gum!  Anthony Horowitz quote, Skeleton Key

As I was reading through gum blogs and articles, a memory of me chewing multiple gums came back.  I remember swallowing a dollop of thick…  I wonder if that had any effect and may have answer my digestive problems…  Hmmm…

So health buffs said swallowing a piece of gum is safe as it is passed out of your body.  But what about multiple gums that thickened after some time and a kid swallowed it?

References:

  • Wilkinson L, Scholey A, Wesnes K (2002) Chewing gum selectively improves aspects of memory in healthy volunteers. Appetite 38, 235-236.
  • Stephen R, Tunney RJ (2004, Oct) Role of glucose in chewing gum-related facilitation of cognitive functions. Appetite Volume 43, Issue 2, pp. 211-213.
  • S. V. Onyper, T. L. Carr, J. S. Farrar and B. R. Floyd, “Cognitive Advantages of Chewing Gum. Now You See Them, Now You Don’t,” Appetite, Vol. 57, No. 2, 2011, pp. 321-328.
  • C. Miles, A. J. Johnson (2007), Chewing gum and context-dependent memory effects: A re-examination, Appetite Volume 48, Issue 2, pp. 154-158.
  • A. Smith, Effects of chewing gum on cognitive function, mood and physiology in stressed and non-stressed volunteers, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20132649

11 nasty reasons why we forget

Forgetfulness is a memory lapse in which a person is unable to recall stored information from his brain. This may be a sign of cognitive decline or a moment of inattentiveness due to some underlying factors.

Forgetfulness is a tendency to forget things. (1) Oftentimes referred to as the state of being neglectful, it is when failure to remember happens. (2)

When forgetting does happen and it seems recurrent, like, where you put your keys for the nth time, stay calm. Though you may think your memory lapse may be a sign of cognitive decline, that could just be due to your inattentiveness. Let’s check it out…

Your 2 forgetfulness checkpoints

If you are unable to remember some things, you may begin to think of it as a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.  But wait a minute!  You may want to examine the situations first.  Here are two simple checkpoints for you:

  • Have you focused enough to get the info into your short-term memory store?
  • Have you rehearsed or repeated enough just so your brain can transfer the info from your short-term to long-term memory store? (Otherwise, it could just be pseudo-forgetting.)

If you answered no to any of the above questions, then again, please worry not.  You just need to pay a little more attention next time. Consider mnemonics.

I have had many instances where I forgot simple things.  In fact, I am using my old reading glasses because I couldn’t remember where I put my new pair (sigh).  I don’t think my brain is deteriorating.  Of course, not (even if I misplaced my specs a million times)!  But I do know that I was multi-tasking, as I always do, like when I blabber with excitement while typing some articles. I sometimes lose track. (Haha… Facetious? Hmm…)

Memory, for all that it does for us every day . . . for all the feats that can sometimes amaze us, can also be a troublemaker.

Daniel Schacter

Common causes of forgetfulness

Common causes of forgetfulness by Dr. Zulfiquar Ahmed, on YouTube

In high school, I memorized multiple dance steps in the shortest period of time. I was absent when my classmates did the 1st and 2nd rehearsals so I had to instantly learn our presentation before the next class began. It was a success.

Years flew by and in 2016, I joined an advanced hip-hop class and found out – a bit amazed (duh) – that I can no longer recall new dance steps (sigh). While the “twenteens” mastered the moves in 15-or-so minutes, I felt like I no longer have the talent . . . or the fresh neurons that will wire that dang thing up in my deteriorating aging brain. SMH.

Now, here are the common causes of forgetfulness…

  1. Lack of sleep
  2. Dehydration
  3. Too much alcohol
  4. Chronic stress
  5. Anxiety
  6. Depression
  7. Isolation
  8. Some medication
  9. Hypothyroidism
  10. Hyperthyroidism
  11. Aging

Lack of sleep

The well-known brain researcher and so-called sleep evangelist, Matthew Walker explains in his book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking The Power of Sleep And Dreams, that sleep can prevent diabetes that may damage nerves in the brain due to high insulin levels.  The sleep expert from UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab also reveals that 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night can be powerful means to improve our bodies, including our brain function.

Too much alcohol

Anything that drowses, including alcohol, will cause you to be inattentive, such that your memory functions weaken.

Chronic stress

Having to deal with overwhelming stress, such as personal responsibilities, may wear you and your brain down.  Dwelling on a past sad event may make you uninterested of the present situation.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal part of our lives but too much of it may affect your psychological well-being. It may result to excessive nervousness and worry that may affect your mental health overtime.

Depression

Depression is the cousin of anxiety.

“Forgetfulness can also be a sign of depression—or a consequence of it.” If you are depressed, you will produce less serotonin and that will make you less attentive.

Depressed people may have the tendency to isolate themselves from the rest of the world.  People, especially old folks, who do not want to mingle or socialize anymore tend to have a faster rate of mental deterioration.

Some medication

Some medications, like sedatives, anti-depresants, blood pressure drugs, including those prescribed by your doctor, may have amnesic side effects.  Please be cautious when propping a pill and certainly let your doctor know of any concern.

Hypothyroidism

Under-active thyroid may disturb sleep and cause depression, too.

Studies have shown that there is a link between subclinical hypothyroidism and mild cognitive impairment, specifically the *working memory* and *executive function*.

“Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism in every organ of the body, including the brain. When thyroid hormone is low, it can affect your memory span and ability to concentrate.

Hyperthyroidism

Just like hypothyroidism, overactive thyroid can also hurt your memory function.  Anxiety, as the result of too much thyroid hormones, may…

Studies have also shown that “there is a strong body of evidence to support the association between subclinical hyperthyroidism and cognitive impairment.”  Neuroscientists are yet to discover its “clear mechanistic associations” and any evidence that will “prevent or improve cognitive decline” by administering antithyroid measures on older people.

References:
(1) Forgetfulness [Def. 1]. (n.d.). In Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. Retrieved June 25, 2019 from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/forgetfulness.
(2) Forgetful [Def. 2]. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved June 25, 2019 from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forgetfulness.
(3) Murray, Bridget. 2003, October. The seven sins of memory. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/oct03/sins.

– Pendick, D.  (2018, April 05).  7 common causes of forgetfulness.  Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/7-common-causes-of-forgetfulness-201302225923.
– Gan, E. H. and Pearce, S. H. S. (2012, August 3). The Thyroid in Mind: Cognitive Function and Low Thyrotropin in Older People. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3496329/.
– Suszynski, M. (2016, April 07). 9 Ways to Improve Your Memory If You Have Hypothyroidism.

March: brain injury awareness month

We just ought to know… 😊 🧠

God's Whispers of Truth

Check out these few facts that can help make us all more aware of just how prevalent brain injury is in the U.S.

Here are a few statistics I find very interesting regarding brain injury:

1) A TBI is a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.

2) Falls are the leading causes of TBI in America.

3) Men are twice as likely to sustain a TBI than women.

4) 90 % percent of concussions do not involve loss of consciousness.

5) Each year, about 2.8 million people are treated for TBI in a United States ER.

6) A concussion is a mild brain injury. The consequences of multiple concussions can be far more dangerous than those of a first time TBI.

7) The area most often injured are the frontal lobes that control thinking and emotional regulation.

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When and when not to drink water a day

When we breathe, perspire and pass urine, we lose liquid in our bodies.  If we begin to lose about 2% of water, we become thirsty – the signal that tells us it is time to hydrate. Here is a schedule that will help you remember to drink water everyday.

Water is life.  Such a commonplace statement and so true.  We clean with it, cook with it, work with it, etc.  Without water, our brains and entire bodily system will not function.  Since our adult bodies are composed of 55-60% water, it is basic to replenish the bodily fluids we lose everyday.

Water is the driving force of all nature.

Leonardo da Vinci

Aside from Da Vinci’s statement about water being the driving force, science also defines water as the primary building block of cells.  It aids in swallowing and digesting food.  It also regulates internal body temperature, helps lubricate the joints, carries nutrients within our bodies and maintains good cognitive functions, such as attention and *memory*.

In addition to the above processes, when we breathe, perspire and pass urine, we lose liquid from our bodies as well.  If we begin to lose about 2% internal water, we become thirsty or, in extreme cases, get dehydrated.

Water dehydration

What would happen if you didn’t drink water? – Mia Nacamulli by TED-Ed, on YouTube

Drinking water is like washing out your insides.  The water will cleanse the system, fill you up, decrease your caloric load and improve the function of all your tissues.

Kevin R. Stone

Water replenishment

We have 24 hours a day, with 8 hours devoted to sleep.  That leaves us with 16 hours to hydrate with potable water.  Divide 16 hours by 2 and we get 8.  That means we need to drink ever 2 hours, right?

I always have water, tons of water.  It’s even in my bathroom because I used to be so bad at drinking water, and I want to stay hydrated.

Selena Gomez

If you are like me (and Selena Gomez) who forgets to drink eight daily glasses of water (or could not even drink a half glass of water right after meal), you can try my personal drink-water-a-day program (in lieu of any mobile phone drink-water-reminder app).

  1. Drink water after waking up in the morning.  I rise up at 6am.
  2. Drink water (30 minutes***) after eating breakfast (or maybe between 7 to 9 for you?).
  3. Drink water around 10am or 2 hours after your last hydration.
  4. Drink water (30 minutes***) after lunch.  Your food recharge could be 12 noon or 1pm.
  5. Drink water around 2pm or during your coffee, err, water break.
  6. Drink water at 4pm or maybe after your bathroom break.
  7. Drink water at 6pm or (30 minutes***) after your dinner.
  8. Drink water at 8pm or 2 hours before (not right before) you sleep.

The above is a schedule “I try” to do and I hope it kinda gives you an idea.  You can be more creative on your own day-to-day routine.  If you can drink 2 glasses at a time, good for you then!  (That may also mean lesser bathroom breaks. 😆)

Also, please note that water is not only consumed by just merely drinking it.  Some of the food we eat already contain water.  Celery, strawberry, cucumber and even broccoli, to name a few, will help replenish lost bodily fluids while supplementing fiber and nutrients.  Water is also in the rice or noodle soup you had during lunchtime (which means I don’t have to feel bad if I was only able to drink 1/4 glass of my water 😀).

Water intoxication

Before you start watching BRIGHT SIDE’s video below, I’d like to point this out…

***Some, including BRIGHT SIDE, say drinking water right after meals is not good because it dilutes the digestive juices necessary to break down food.  Dr. Michael Picco contradicts this, via Mayo Clinic, saying water does not interfere with digestion.  In fact, it aids in absorbing nutrients.

I am yet to find clinical studies and scientific evidences to explain the biological truth about drinking water right after meals.  But for now, I’ll stick to drinking at least 30 minutes after eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.***

9 Situations When You Really Shouldn’t drink Water by BRIGHT SIDE, on YouTube

Conclusion

Optimal hydration or getting the right amount of water is proven to be effective in keeping your body, mind and *memory* healthy.  On the other hand, over-hydration will cause more harm.

Like they say, too much of a good thing is bad.  So, just be cautious of your own body.  If you thirst, then that is the signal you already lost 2% of your bodily fluid.  Let’s drink to that! 🍹

References:
(1) Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D., How Much of Your Body Is Water?, September 28, 2018, https://www.thoughtco.com/how-much-of-your-body-is-water-609406
(2) Pico, Michael F., M.D., Does drinking water during or after a meal disturb digestion?, May 3, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/digestion/faq-20058348

14 sleep tips from Dr. Weil

I’ll take these tips to my heart! Thanks!

Health Hot Spot

  1. 1-2 hours before bed, turn off all blue light-emitting devices.  Melatonin regulates your sleep, and blue light from your electronic devices suppresses melatonin production.
  2. Charge your phone in another room to avoid the temptation to check it at night.
  3. Stop eating a few hours before bedtime.  Digestion can interrupt sleep.
  4. Take an after-dinner walk.
  5. Use lavender oil (relaxes you for sleep) or lemon balm oil (reduces restlessness and anxiety) in a warm bath or diffuser.
  6. Buy a supportive mattress and a comfortable pillow/sheets.
  7. Keep your bedroom temperature cool.
  8. Buy blackout curtains for your windows.
  9. Keep your room environment quiet.  A white noise or pink noise generator can help.
  10. Do a breathing exercise/meditation to help calm your thoughts.
  11. Reduce your caffeine intake, especially after 12:00 p.m.
  12. Get outside in the morning to expose yourself to the morning light.  Morning light increases quality sleep and lowers feelings of stress.
  13. Exercise. Exercising could…

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How to improve your short-term memory

Short-term memory includes remembering a new name and series of cards, as well as where you put down your keys. Experts say it’s not that you’re forgetful. It’s just that you need to focus more. The brain should be properly trained for this.

Hi!  My name is Mnimi.  What’s yours?  Nice to meet you, _______!

Short-term memory includes recalling faces and their associated names.  It may probably sound easy for some but for most of us, it’s not.  I have heard many slightly embarrassing stories about forgetting one single name of a person who was just introduced to you in less than a minute ago… ⏱

Uh…  Pardon me.  What’s your name again?  …friend?

It’s really not that difficult if you just pay close attention. (“Sure” while you roll your eyes 👀) Some experts say it’s not that you can’t remember.  It’s just that you didn’t focus as much and that your brain is not “properly trained” on even the simplest short-term memory of where you put down your reading glasses 👓 . . . For.The.3rd.Time.Now…

Oh, it’s on my head.  Duh!

3 tips to remember names

According to Ron White, there are things to consider when remembering a person’s name. Let’s watch how this 2-time memory champion astonish us with his face-name and playing-card recall skills below…

Brain Games- Short Term Memory Tricks uploaded by Professor Ross, on YouTube
  • Focus on getting the person’s name.
    1. Predispose yourself to getting the person’s name by repeatedly asking yourself, “What is your name?”
  • Have pre-determine interest on that person’s name.
    1. When you’re interested on something, your natural tendency is to learn it. Similarly, if you make that new person particularly intriguing, you may want to learn more of him/her during your first meeting. Thus, you’ll remember the name.
  • Match the name to the owner’s feature.
    1. There should be a unique or distinctive feature on that person’s face that will make you remember. So, instead of asking yourself what that person’s name was, picture what stood out from his/her features.
    2. Examples: Iris might have pretty purple eyes while Barry might have a cool baritone voice.

4 tips to remember cards

  • Chunk the cards into 3 so you only need to remember 17 plus 1 left-over, out of a deck of 52 cards.
  • Use the PAO Method – person, action, object
    1. When you chunk the cards, you ‘assign’ the first card a name, 2nd, what that person is doing and 3rd, with what object.
    2. Examples: Card1 = King of Hearts = your husband or partner (person); Card2 = driving (action); Card3 = car (object).  This will make 3 cards into one image.
  • Use a memory palace.
  • Practice. Practice. Practice.

How to remember more easily using the memory palace technique [video]

The memory palace or mind palace is a mental place to store images enabling you to recall later. It is also called the method of loci or journey method because you can travel through it in your mind to retrieve what you visually input on those loci or locations.

Using a pen and paper or your mobile phone is great. It aids you in remembering things by simply writing or typing down grocery items, phone numbers and other stuff on a notepad to view later. But wouldn’t it be better to have your own virtual list, one that doesn’t require any tangibles nor electronics? Yes, your beautiful brain…

What is a memory palace?

The memory palace, also known as the mind palace, is a mental picture of a place where you can store images and that enables you to recall later. It has been used during the ancient times and even up to now, it still is a powerful mnemonic strategy that enables you to remember a list of things in particular order.

The method of loci

The memory palace is sometimes called the method of loci or journey method because you can travel through it in your mind to retrieve what you have visually put in those loci or locations.

How the memory palace technique works?

The Memory Palace Technique by Sprouts, on YouTube

The trick to remembering numbers, things and other facts using the memory palace is to perceive items in crazy, funny, out-of-this-world ways. Outrageous objects are what people tend not to forget, don’t you think?

Now, if you’re ready, let’s begin…

  • Define your own mind palace – one that is very familiar to you.
  • Close your eyes and concentrate.
  • Imagine yourself entering the first door.
  • Mentally place – an average of 7 items – strategically in each room. For example, starting with your living room, you put an apple on the tv, a banana on the sofa, a pear on the coffee table and so on and so forth…
  • Go to your next room and leave things around.
  • Keep going to the next room if you feel necessary.
  • When you’re done and it’s time to recall, just journey back to your memory palace and walk though the locations as you visualize the items.

Regarding no. 4 above, neuroscientists postulated that an average human brain can remember 5 to 9 things at a time. This is based on the Miller Law.

So, if you have 10 virtual rooms and left 7 things each, then you are possibly going to retrieve 77 things in order when you go back in there. Just imagine . . . if you have more than 10, 20 or 30, those amazingly multitude of mental locations become part of your enormous mind palace of memories. Chances are you will never forget important matters again. 🙂

Alcohol-related brain damage and thiamine deficiency

Too much alcohol and deficiency in vitamin B may lead to brain damage, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Those are two medical conditions that often happen together or successively. It is important to know the difference for appropriate treatment.

Clinical testings and quantitative analysis have proven that excessive alcohol can result to structural and functional organ damage as well as brain abnormalities. For one, alcoholics can develop liver cirrhosis (liver with scarred tissue) that can impact the brain. It is also possible that with chronic drinking, one may have a poor diet that will lead to Vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency. This can also cause severe brain damage and dysfunction.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is a term for two medical conditions that often happen together – Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff psychosis. While the Wernicke disease happens suddenly such that treatment is needed right away, Korsakoff patients experience long-term cognitive issues, including memory loss. (1)

Wernicke’s encephalopathy

Wernicke sufferers may have the following:

  • Confusion – You may feel confused of what is going around you.
  • Loss of muscle coordination – Your arms and legs may feel weak such that standing up and walking will be a little difficult.
  • Vision problems – Your eyes may move around quickly and you may have double-vision.

In addition to the above symptoms, there may be a feeling of dizziness when standing up due to low blood pressure. A patient may also feel a faster heartbeat but with less energy; and even feel drowsy or faint. With no immediate treatment, Wernicke encephalopathy can lead to Korsakoff syndrome. (1)

Korsakoff’s syndrome

“Korsakoff syndrome, also called Korsakoff dementia, Korsakoff psychosis, or amnesic-confabulatory syndrome, is a life-altering, permanent neuropsychiatric condition characterized by anterograde and retrograde amnesia as well as frontal lobe dysfunction and affective disturbance.” (2)

With the Korsakoff syndrome, learning is impaired because remembering new things and recent events becomes difficult. However, other thinking and social skills are relatively unaffected. An individual may seem to be able to converse properly but later forgets that occurrence entirely. (3)

This chronic memory disorder is caused by severe vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency. It is most commonly caused by alcohol abuse although some other conditions may also cause this brain-debilitating disease. (3)


References:
(1) What Is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome? (2018, January 11). In WebMD Medical Reference. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/brain/wernicke-korsakoff-syndrome-facts#1.
(2) McCormick, L. M., Buchanan, J. R., Onwuameze, O. E., Pierson, Ronald K., and Paradiso, S., (2013, January 22). Beyond Alcoholism: Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome in Patients With Psychiatric Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3551444/#R3.
(3) Korsakoff Syndrome. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2019 from https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-dementia/types-of-dementia/korsakoff-syndrome.

Cocktail party memory deficit and alcohol-induced memory blackout [video]

Studies have shown that while working memory still functions for a brief period of time during intoxication, short-term to long-term memory conversion is disabled. The more alcohol is consumed, the more memories are impaired. With excessive blood alcohol content or BAC, the normal processes of the hippocampus in the brain is disrupted.

Some non-official holidays, such as below, are particularly linked to social drinking and merry-making. This might result to binging on alcohol. It is important to know the risk factors and the impact on your memory.

  • February 14th is Valentine’s Day.
  • February 18th is National Drink Wine Day.
  • February 22nd is National Margarita Day.
  • March 17th is St. Patrick’s Day.

So they say…

Please drink moderately. Do not drink and drive.

But once you’re on it and got past to “your moderate level”, will you be able to remember what you are not supposed to do? Will you be sane enough to make a wise decision for yourself and others?

What Happens To Your Brain When You Get Blackout Drunk by Science Insider, on YouTube

Studies have shown that alcohol can still allow the functioning of working memory but only for a brief period of time. Conversation of short-term memory into long–term, however, is disabled. The more ethanol-based beverage is consumed, the more your memory is impaired (which also has ill effects on your motor skills and executive decision-making). Excessive blood alcohol content or BAC disrupts the normal process of your hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for creating new explicit memories.

Cocktail party memory deficit

In 1971, Ryback observed that BAC has a direct relationship with alcohol-induced long-term memory impairment. If there is a small to moderate amount of ethanol flowing in your blood stream (BAC below 0.15 percent), then there is also a small to moderate occurrence of memory deficit. This is what Ryback termed as cocktail party memory deficit – small-to-moderate memory lapses due to small-to-moderate drinking. If BAC is increased, then memory impairment will also be higher, oftentimes resulting to a blackout. (1)

Alcohol-induced blackout

A blackout is an episode of amnesia – one that is anterograde or that in which the person is unable to form new memories while intoxicated. This also means that whatever memories he or she had prior to alcohol influence, those can still be recalled once sober. (1)

Also called alcohol-induced amnesia, blackout oftentimes occurs during binge drinking – when alcohol is rapidly increased in the blood stream. The impairing effects of blood alcohol content or BAC, on memory vary among people. (2)

The possible key to having a blackout is “rapid drinking”.

Given the same levels of alcohol, evidences have shown that, as compared to men…”are at greater risk . . . for experiencing blackouts” and have more susceptibility to “milder forms of alcohol-induced memory impairments.” This is due to physiology, such as metabolism, body weigh, body fat proportion and enzyme levels. (1)

Women may experience blackouts more than men.
They are more prone to memory impairment when drunk.

2 types of blackouts

In 1969, Goodwin and colleagues studied 100 hospitalized alcoholics and found 64 had blackout episodes categorized into two types –

  • Fragmentary blackout
  • En bloc blackout

Fragmentary blackout

Fragmentary blackout is the “partial blocking of memory formation” and is the most common form of amnesic episode during intoxication. You can remember a few things or “fragments” of what has happened but not entirely. (1) It is also called brownouts in which you may remember once triggered or given a cue. (3)

En block blackout

En block blackout is when your total memory function is impaired. This is the stage of drunkenness in which actively retained information are never transferred into long-term memory. (1) It is like time-traveling without the knowledge of what has transpired during that event. (3)

Blackout vs. pass out

Passing out is when a person loses consciousness and falls into a sleep-like state. Blackout is when a person who appears conscious behaves rather uncontrollably and loses memory of what happened. (2)

To summarize, alcohol impairs memory up to the extent of how you are intoxicated. The more alcohol streaming in your blood (BAC above .15 percent), the more memory impaired you possibly become.

Please drink moderately.
Do not drink and drive.

Alcoholic drink pouring onto wine glass with a brain
Alcoholic drink pouring onto wine glass with a brain

References:
(1) White, Aaron. (2003). What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain. Alcohol Research & Health, 27(2), 186-96. Retrieved from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-2/186-196.htm.
(2) Binge Drinking & Alcohol Blackout. (2018, November 8). Retrieved from https://www.alcohol.org/effects/dangers-of-blackouts/.
(3) I Did What??? The Anatomy of a Blackout. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2019 from https://drugabuse.com/i-did-what-the-anatomy-of-a-blackout/.

Steve Joordens quote: memory effect on thought and behavior

Steve Joordens said: Memory is acting anytime some past experience has an effect on the way you think or behave now or in the future.

Memory is acting anytime some past experience has an effect on the way you think or behave now or in the future.

Steve Joordens, Memory and the Human Lifespan
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