Tag Archive: cognition

Mar 15 2017

LCKL 063 – 13 Ways You Can Boost Your Memory and Cognition

Do you ever feel like you are suffering from early onset alzheimers? Do you go into a room, only to forget why you went there in the first place? If so then let me put your mind at rest. It is most likely not alzheimers you are dealing with, but more an inability to retrieve the information that is stored.

 

SHOWNOTES
  • How Memory Works;
  • Step #1 of Memory – Encoding;
  • Step #2 of Memory – Storage;
  • Step #3 of Memory – Retrieval;
  • Causes of Memory Loss;
  • Ways to Improve Memory.
TRANSCRIPT
How Memory WorksCauses of Memory LossWays To Improve Memory
  • How the memory forms is a very complex process that comes from many different sections of the brain.
  • There are a number of steps that the brain goes through in order to form memories. I will go into this briefly within this episode but keep an eye out for a future course which will take you through this in much greater detail.

Step #1 – Encoding

  • This is a biological phenomenon which begins with perception.
  • For instance, when you meet someone special you will find that your visual system will begin to register their physical features while the auditory system picked up the sound of their voice. You may also notice different smells and different touches.
  • Each of these sensations will be sent to the hippocampus and then they will all be integrated together into one single person, or one single being.
  • With the use of language and chemicals the memory will be encoded and stored. To do this, nerve cells will connect with other cells at the synapse.
  • Within the synapse, electrical pulses carrying messages will leap across the gaps between the cells. The electrical firing of this pulse will trigger the release of neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters attach themselves to neighboring cells.
  • Each brain cell can form thousands of these links and typically 100 trillion synapses.
  • The connections between these brain cells are not set in concrete and they will change all the time. Brain cells will work together in a network and organise themselves into groups which specialise in different types of information processing.
  • As you learn more, you create more connections and more dendrites.
  • This is the reason practice makes perfect. Changes are reinforced with use, so as you learn and practice new information, circuits of knowledge and memories are built into the brain. The more you practice something, the more proficient you become at it.
  • To properly encode a memory you first need to be present and then you also need to be paying attention.

Step #2 – Storage

  • Once the memory is created it must be stored in either short term or long term memory.
  • Short Term Memory is very limited. It can hold about 7 items at a time for about 20-30 seconds each. However you can use some memory strategies which may help you increase this time a little.
  • The important information will move from short term memory to long term memory. The more that the information is repeated and/or used, the more likely it will be to end up in long term memory.
  • Long term memories are able to hold unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.

Step #3 – Retrieval

  • When you want to remember something you recall it on an unconscious level, bringing it to your conscious mind whenever you need it.
  • If you have forgotten something and can’t seem to retrieve it, there are a few things that may have happened:
    • You may not have encoded properly what you want to remember;
    • You may not have retained what you registered; or
    • You may not be able to retrieve the information correctly.
  • If you are really wanting to remember something, you must make sure that you are not distracted when encoding them.
  • Sometimes we may worry as we get older that we are getting early onset dementia or alzheimers disease. It is unlikely that this is the case. It is more likely that you are simply experiencing a breakdown of the assembly process of memory. This may start to happen in our 20’s and get worse as we begin to head towards 50.
  • As you learn and remember your brain doesn’t create a whole new batch of nerve cells. In fact, it’s the connections between it that change as you learn. It is actually the synapses that will begin to falter as you get older.
  • Memory loss that is not attributed to dementia or alzheimers can occur for a number of reasons:
    • Drop in acetylcholine levels as you get older. Acetylcholine is vital to learning and memory.
    • Some parts of the brain that are essential to memory are highly vulnerable to ageing. The hippocampus loses 5% of its nerve cells with each decade of life so you have lost 20% by the time you have hit your 80’s.
    • The brain shrinks and becomes less efficient as you age.
    • Environmental factors may have also attributed to some memory loss such as unhealthy genes, exposure to poisons, smoking or drinking too much.

Physical Activity

  • Many studies have shown that exercise can actually improve your memory and cognition.
  • There was actually a study that was published in the Journal of Neurology that showed that moderate to intense exercise can slow aging by as much as 10 years.
  • One of the main mechanisms behind why exercise improves memory and cognition is because of its ability to increase BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) in the brain. BDNF has been found to preserve existing brain cells, activate the brain stem cells to convert into new neurons and also to promote brain growth.
  • It also improves and increases blood flow to the brain which makes you more productive in whatever task you are completing.
  • Within my course I will be going into a lot more detail as to how exercise improves memory and the best types of exercise to be doing.

Ketogenic Diet

  • They have shown that using fat for fuel instead of glucose for fuel actually triggers the release of BDNF and therefore improves cognitive performance.
  • Also, Beta Hydroxy Butyrate which is the ketone body produced within a ketogenic diet blocks histone enzymes which inhibit the production of BDNF.

Nutrition

  • There are many foods which have been found to be beneficial in improving brain health, some of which include:
    • Avocados – Rich in Vitamin K and Folate.
    • Beets – Contains natural nitrates which boost blood flow to the brain and help with mental performance. They also help boost energy and performance during tough workouts.
    • Blueberries – High in gallic acid and therefore are great for protecting the brain from degeneration and stress.
    • Bone Broth – Great for healing your gut and your brain.
    • Coconut Oil – Natural Anti-Inflammatory. Also full of fats that help with brain health.
  • More of these brain boosting foods will be included in my upcoming course.

Supplementation

  • Acetyl L Carnitine – A favourite of mine that is well known for its ability to improve alertness, focus, clarity and mood. It also helps to create acetylcholine which is responsible for learning, memory, regulating sleep cycle, amongst others.
  • Curcumin / Turmeric – It increases blood flow, neurotransmitter formation and BDNF, therefore it is very beneficial for improving memory and concentration.
  • Panax Ginseng – Studies have shown that taking as little as 400mg per day of curcumin can boost your memory.
  • Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids – DHA is a primary structural component of the brain, which is why omega 3 fats are so beneficial for brain health. It will shield the aging brain from memory loss, depression, mental decline and alzheimers.
  • MCT Oils – This is probably one of my favourite supplements of all times – especially when eating a ketogenic diet. There have been many studies showing that regular consumption of MCT Oils in the presence of alzheimers, dementia, parkinsons and other neurodegenerative conditions can actually improve cognition. However, for it to be effective you must also replace all of the junk you are consuming with good quality foods.

Mental Stimulation

  • Evidence shows that stimulating the brain can stop cells from shrinking and can even increase brain cells in some situations.
  • By constantly stimulating your brain with different activities and challenges you will have greater communication between the synapses. A stimulating environment has been shown to encourage the growth of the dendrites but a dull environment stops this growth.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS
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Please note that this information is not intended for medical purposes or to replace the advice of your medical practitioner. It is for informational purposes only to help guide you on your journey towards optimal wellness.