Summary of “Exercise Your Brain to Improve Memory in Retirement”

You can strengthen certain memory skills, and improve your overall brain health and cognitive function.
Brain training games are widely advertised, but the benefits are limited.
Memory games may improve your memory slightly, and language games may boost your language ability a bit, but there’s no proof yet of any major changes beyond that, says D.P. Devanand, director of geriatric psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.
Research does prove that taking care of your overall brain health helps improve your brain function and memory.
A healthy brain actually begins with your heart, Devanand says.
Being social helps, because social interaction stimulates the brain.
A recent Johns Hopkins University study showed that seniors who tutored in Baltimore schools had improved brain performance.
Keep your brain active by taking classes to learn new skills or teach yourself to use new technology.

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Summary of “and how to avoid its effects”

The effects of a healthy, acute stress reaction are mostly temporary, ceasing when a stressful experience is over, and any lasting effects can sometimes leave us better than we were before.
Many of the players in the stress response have so-called “Non-linear dose-dependent actions” meaning their effects change course with prolonged activity.
In the first study of its kind, Ivanka Savic and colleagues at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and Stockholm University recently compared the brains of people suffering from work-related chronic stress to those of healthy, less stressed counterparts using structural magnetic resonance imaging techniques.
To establish whether chronic stress was simply correlated to the changes or had caused the changes in the stressed individuals, the researchers scanned their brains again after a three month-long stress-rehabilitation program based on cognitive therapy and breathing exercises.
Chronic stress has been linked to hypertension and in a small, randomised trial, US researchers, including Lynn Clemow at Columbia University Medical Center, used stress management training to effectively lower systolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
The perceptual element of stress may be the reason some mind-body interventions such as yoga, breathing techniques and focused-attention meditation can benefit stress management through effects on improving emotional regulation, reducing stress reactivity and speeding up recovery after stress.
Our dietary habits modify the micro-organisms living in the digestive tract and these micro-organisms, through cross-talk with immune cells and other routes, can influence how the mind reacts to stress.
Early results suggest taking either a single strain or a combination of probiotics may reduce mental fatigue and improve cognitive performance during stress – but not in the absence of stress.

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Summary of “The Ethics of Consciousness Hunting”

The ability to distinguish CMD from vegetative patients could save lives worth living.
A little less than a fifth of patients who are behaviorally non-responsive at the bedside are CMD rather than vegetative.
If we had a reliable method to distinguish CMD from vegetative patients, along the lines of the functional neuroimaging performed by Owen and Naci, this would represent a great advance in the care of this class of patient.
The possibility of distinguishing CMD from vegetative patients is another exciting application of new technology, and it raises a second set of ethical questions, to do with cost.
According to the Centre for Health Economics at the University of York, 95 percent of vegetative patients are cared for in long-term care facilities, at a cost of £90,000 per patient, per year.5 The life expectancy for a young adult vegetative patient one year after injury is roughly 10.5 years, meaning their lifetime cost of care would be roughly $1,250,000.
If functional neuroimaging develops to the point where it can be used to reliably distinguish patients who retain consciousness from those who will remain in a vegetative state permanently, it could spare us the enormous expense of keeping alive patients who have no hope of benefiting from extra years of life.
If early detection of consciousness can be linked to recovery, functional neuroimaging could also help doctors and families in making the difficult decision to treat a severely brain injured patient, or allow them to die.
Electroencephalography offers an even more cost-effective and portable option, and has also been used to detect consciousness in behaviourally non-responsive patients.

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Summary of “How to Teach Your Brain Something It Won’t Forget a Week Later”

Well, because that’s not how your brain likes to absorb information.
As brain scientists have dug into how learning really works, they’ve discovered that massed practice only leads to remembering things over the short term.
Letting Your Brain Do the Work for You The “Spacing effect” is one of the most consistently replicated mental processes in psychological history, dating back to Hermann Ebbinghaus, who observed it in 1885.
With a little more planning and foresight, you can tap into that cognitive phenomenon to take better advantage of how your brain actually works.
“We measure experiment participants’ brain activity while they’re learning, trying to take in the information, and then ask them to rest,” Davachi says of her research.
“We see there is a footprint of what was happening during the learning; the brain continues to rehearse the prior information.” Davachi has found that participants whose brains show more replay during that rest period do better on recall tests later.
“Your brain is doing your work for you while you’re doing other tasks,” she adds.
The good news is that your brain is already built to acquire and store information that way, just as long you space out the learning process from the outset.

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Summary of “This is What Your Overactive Brain Needs to Get a Good Night’s Sleep”

You already know how much better you feel after a good night’s sleep, but sleeping well helps your brain in less apparent ways than just not being groggy the next day.
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can help secure your cognitive well-being.
No More Nightcaps It’s all too easy to slip into a routine of having a glass or two of wine each evening, and you wouldn’t be alone in thinking this helps you unwind and sleep better.
If you spent the evening drinking and then went to sleep wearing a heart-rate variability monitor, it would show significantly increased levels of stress for your body while you slept.
Throughout the night, as the liver uses a higher proportion of the body’s energy than usual, the brain is starved of its usual resources and struggles to recuperate effectively for the next day.
Don’t Netflix and Chill Many people like watching TV to relax after a long workday, and while that might help distract you from your daily worries, it doesn’t prepare your brain for a good night’s rest.
Certain foods like bacon and preserved meats, soy sauce, some cheeses, nuts, tomatoes, and red wine contain a chemical called tyramine, which causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that boosts brain activity.
Now that you’ve cut these habits from your evening routine, what should you add to it instead? Here are a few good options for improving both the quality of your sleep and reducing the time it takes your brain to power down for the night.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Brain Damage Saved His Music”

Galarza’s astonishment, like that of medical scientists and music fans, arises from the fact that Martino recovered from surgery with a significant portion of his brain and memory gone, but his guitar skills intact.
It looked like “a bundle of worms,” said Frederick Simeone, the surgeon who saved Martino’s life, in a 2009 documentary, Martino Unstrung: A Brain Mystery.
Paul Broks, a British neuropsychologist, co-writer of the documentary Martino Unstrung, and a co-author of the World Neurosurgery report, has said Martino’s surgery may have had “Nonspecific effects” on the areas that store and activate episodic memory, and those effects “Subsided as the brain readjusted physiologically post-surgery.”
In his 2014 report, “Jazz Improvisation, Creativity, and Brain Plasticity,” Duffau suggested that Martino’s language and music functions likely shifted from his left hemisphere to a more distributed orientation, incorporating part of the interior occipital lobe, which is normally dedicated to processing visual information.
Martino looked at a black void on one of his brain images.
Omigie echoes the point that Martino’s brain, long before it hemorrhaged or Martino even knew about his tangled veins, reorganized itself in a way that might shield it from damage.
Whatever brain mechanisms may have led to Martino’s revival, both Omigie and Broks, the neuropsychologist who spent months with Martino for the filming of Martino Unstrung, felt compelled to add that science couldn’t leave out the work and determination of the guitarist himself.
In a scene in Martino Unstrung, Martino looked at his MRI brain images.

The orginal article.

Summary of “This is What Your Overactive Brain Needs to Get a Good Night’s Sleep”

You already know how much better you feel after a good night’s sleep, but sleeping well helps your brain in less apparent ways than just not being groggy the next day.
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can help secure your cognitive well-being.
No More Nightcaps It’s all too easy to slip into a routine of having a glass or two of wine each evening, and you wouldn’t be alone in thinking this helps you unwind and sleep better.
If you spent the evening drinking and then went to sleep wearing a heart-rate variability monitor, it would show significantly increased levels of stress for your body while you slept.
Throughout the night, as the liver uses a higher proportion of the body’s energy than usual, the brain is starved of its usual resources and struggles to recuperate effectively for the next day.
Don’t Netflix and Chill Many people like watching TV to relax after a long workday, and while that might help distract you from your daily worries, it doesn’t prepare your brain for a good night’s rest.
Certain foods like bacon and preserved meats, soy sauce, some cheeses, nuts, tomatoes, and red wine contain a chemical called tyramine, which causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant that boosts brain activity.
Now that you’ve cut these habits from your evening routine, what should you add to it instead? Here are a few good options for improving both the quality of your sleep and reducing the time it takes your brain to power down for the night.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The forgotten part of memory”

“What is memory without forgetting?” asks Oliver Hardt, a cognitive psychologist studying the neurobiology of memory at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
“To have proper memory function, you have to have forgetting.”
Researchers are still pinpointing the details, but they know that autobiographical memories – those of events experienced personally – begin to take lasting form in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, in the hours and days that follow the event.
Much is still unknown about how memories are created and accessed, and addressing such mysteries has consumed a lot of memory researchers’ time.
It’s a remarkable oversight, says Michael Anderson, who studies cognitive neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, UK. “Every species that has a memory forgets. Full stop, without exception. It doesn’t matter how simple the organism is: if they can acquire lessons of experience, the lessons can be lost,” he says.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is involved in moderating a host of behaviours in the fly brain, and Davis proposed that this chemical messenger might also play a part in memory.
If forgetting is truly a well-regulated, innate part of the memory process, he says, it makes sense that dysregulation of that process could have negative effects.
More memory researchers are shifting their focus to examine how the brain forgets, as well as how it remembers.

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Summary of “Antonio Damasio Tells Us Why Pain Is Necessary”

In “Why Your Biology Runs on Feelings,” another article in this chapter of Nautilus, drawn from his new book, Damasio tells us “Mind and brain influence the body proper just as much as the body proper can influence the brain and the mind. They are merely two aspects of the very same being.”
The nervous systems are in constant interaction and cooperation with the rest of the organism.
The reason why nervous systems exist in the first place is to assist the rest of the organism.
Organisms with nervous systems can image these states.
It’s important to understand that nervous systems serve the organism and not the other way around.
Once organisms got to the point of being so complex that they had an endocrine system, immune system, circulation, and central metabolism, they needed a device to coordinate all that activity.
Now, in the process of doing that, over millions of years, we have developed nervous systems that do plenty of other things that do not necessarily result in coordination of the organism’s interior, but happen to be very good at coordinating the internal world in relation to the outside world.
You do not invent a moral system or a government system alone or for yourself alone.

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Summary of “How a Stress Gap Impacts Women’s Health Differently Than Men”

The latest evidence? Researchers have just linked high levels of the stress hormone cortisol to brain shrinkage and impaired memory in healthy middle-aged adults.
How stress affects your brainAspects of the brain’s design that served us well thousands of years ago now make us susceptible to negative emotions and mental fatigue, both of which ratchet up our stress, says Amit Sood, MD, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and founder of the Mayo Clinic Resilience Program.
Brain fatigue leads to stress, and stress leads to fatigue, in a continuous closed loop.
Why stress hits women harder than men Stress almost seems to have it out for women.
Stewing over these and having difficulty letting them go strengthens the brain circuits of those negative emotions-another example of the negativity bias at work-which also increases women’s stress.
In the second part of the study, when men and women were experiencing intense anxiety, brain regions that were active in women were inactive in men.
These can help you take stress in stride, with a terrific payoff: better health and greater happiness, plus a more resilient brain.
How to control stress and calm your brain To keep stress in check, you should of course be eating healthfully, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep to improve your mood, emotions, and cognition.

The orginal article.