Two Simple Ways To Achieve A Better Memory And Avoid Cognitive Impairment

November 3, 2010

What if I told you that keeping your mind sharp and your faculties in top notch condition could be achieved without any great effort, and you might even enjoy it? Well, I hope you would be tempted to try it and the most recent research offers great hope on how we can stay lively and alert and it works whether you are a student or retired so keep reading…

The first method is something you are no doubt already doing if you enjoy talking to others in a social setting. Of course most of us do, but a new University of Michigan study shows that talking with other people in a friendly way can make it easier to solve common problems can provide mental benefits according to psychologist Oscar Ybarra, a researcher at the U-M Institute for Social Research.
But, and there is always a but isn’t there, the emphasis is on friendly because conversations that are competitive in tone, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits and indeed have negative results in terms of raising blood pressure and possibly losing said friends.

Cognitive function includes working memory, self-monitoring, and the ability to suppress external and internal distractions — all of which are essential in solving common life problems and succeeding at the bridge table. Previous research has found that social interaction provides a short-term boost to cognitive function that’s comparable in size to playing brain games, such as solving crossword puzzles.

Even having just a brief 10 minute conversation where you are getting to know another person can result in a boost to your subsequent performance on an array of common cognitive tasks. All very nice, and enjoyable, but why or how does it work?

“We believe that performance boosts come about because some social interactions induce people to try to read others’ minds and take their perspectives on things,” Ybarra said. “And we also find that when we structure even competitive interactions to have an element of taking the other person’s perspective, or trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, there is a boost in executive functioning as a result.”

What this highlights is the connection between social intelligence and general intelligence and so if you want to perform your best, having a friendly chat with a colleague before a big presentation or test may be a good strategy.

A second approach:
Many people are already aware that the B-Complex vitamins help us when stressed, indeed they are a popular element in stress supplements together with vitamin C, and new research now shows they may also help to slow the progress of dementia.

A two-year clinical trial in Oxford has shown that B vitamins, including B-6, B-12 and folic acid, slow down the rate of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) by half. MCI is a condition which is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with MCI go on to develop Alzheimer’s within five years

Scientists from Oxford University said their two-year clinical trial was the largest to date and David Smith of Oxford’s department of pharmacology, who co-led the trial, said: ”It is our hope that this simple and safe treatment will delay development of Alzheimer’s in many people who suffer from mild memory problems.”

MCI does not usually interfere with daily life, but around 50 percent of people diagnosed with it go on to develop the far more severe Alzheimer’s disease within five years. Smith and colleagues conducted a two-year trial with 168 volunteers with MCI who were given either a vitamin pill containing very high doses of folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, or a placebo dummy pill.

These B vitamins are known to control levels of an amino acid called homocysteine in the blood, and high blood levels of homocysteine are linked to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Brain scans were taken at the beginning and the end of the trial to monitor the rate of brain shrinkage, or atrophy.

Dr. Gustavo C. Román, medical director of the Alzheimer & Dementia Center at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, Texas, said that patients who already exhibit signs of dementia and test positive for high levels of homocysteine are more likely to respond well to the large doses of B vitamins.

CAUTION: If you want to try this for yourself, please be aware that the trial involved extremely high doses that have to be closely medically monitored so do not self dose at anything over the recommended levels without medical advice.

As a preventive, adding a high potency vitamin B complex to your daily routine can’t hurt and could be extremely helpful.


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