- SharpBrains - http://sharpbrains.com -

Why, to improve memory, we need to think of the brain as a system

Posted By SharpBrains On January 24, 2013 @ 2:26 In Cognitive Neuroscience,Course: Brain Fitness Coach,Education & Lifelong Learning | Comments Disabled

[1](Editor’s Note: every month we host an online Q&A with par­tic­i­pants in the e-course How To Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach [1]. This is the lightly edited and anonymized tran­script from the Jan­u­ary Q&A ses­sion; the Feb­ru­ary Q&A will take place on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 12th)

2:02
OK, ready to go! Happy 2013 again. You can start writ­ing your ques­tions and com­ments in the box at the bot­tom, and hit Send.

2:04
Ques­tion 
Which activ­i­ties or games or web­sites do you rec­om­mend to improve memory?

2:05

Fac­ulty Answer
Well, that is an impos­si­ble ques­tion to answer prop­erly with­out talk­ing specifics…have you watched the recorded lec­tures already?

2:06
I say that for 2 rea­sons: 1) to improve mem­ory, one also has to con­sider other brain func­tions such as atten­tion and man­ag­ing stress; 2) and take into account a vari­ety of lifestyle options before jump­ing to “websites”

2:07
We dis­cuss these top­ics in depth in the first 2 ses­sions. In ses­sion 3 we sur­vey a range of tools/ websites/ resources…

2:08
Can you be a bit more spe­cific about what you are look­ing for?

2:08
Ques­tion 
Not all of them. I’m right at the begin­ning and I real­ize you have many resources to offer. Yes, your rec­om­men­da­tions are great and yes I like your sug­ges­tion to look at other ways to improve mem­ory before jump­ing into websites.

2:10

Fac­ulty Answer

Under­stood. Think of the brain as a sys­tem. As a car. More com­plex that just “mem­ory.” The first lec­tures explains the basics of the sys­tem, so you know how dif­fer­ent fac­tors play a role. Later we review dif­fer­ent tools and how to per­son­al­ize them.

2:10
Ques­tion 
How to improve atten­tion might be a good place to start?

2:12
Fac­ulty Answer

Yes. But you’ll notice we also talk a lot about stress and emo­tions, because often they are a bot­tle­neck for atten­tion and for mem­ory. And there are other exec­u­tive func­tions to con­sider and enhance.

2:12
Ques­tion 
Is there any new research, ideas or activ­i­ties that you have recently dis­cov­ered that are not in your program?

2:13
Fac­ulty Answer

We track every­thing new so the answer is yes. But noth­ing that would sub­stan­tially change the course as it is now.

2:14
I see 9 other peo­ple are in this Q&A, so please add your com­ments and ques­tions by writ­ing them in the bot­tom box and click­ing on Send.

2:14
Ques­tion 
Thank you.

2:15
Fac­ulty Answer

You’re wel­come. I think watch­ing the first 2 ses­sions will give you a much bet­ter sense on how to approach the ques­tion “how to improve memory”

2:16
Ques­tion 
Yes, will do. Lots to absorb and I look for­ward to it.

2:17
Fac­ulty Answer

Happy to answer any spe­cific question/ doubt you have now. For general/ open ques­tions, I think the course ses­sions are a much bet­ter place to start.

2:17
Ques­tion 
Do you think it’s pos­si­ble to pre­vent Alzheimer’s?

2:20
Fac­ulty Answer

Great ques­tion. It is clear now that 1) you can’t pre­vent AD pathol­ogy (plaques and tan­gles in the brain), BUT 2) you can delay the onset of AD symp­toms by a num­ber of years. Which is the real out­come we all want, because doing so is what com­presses the poten­tial mor­bid­ity at the end of our lives, mak­ing a huge dif­fer­ence for indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies. This is why we talk so much about cog­ni­tive reserve in the course — the reserve that helps us with­stand the effects of the pathology.

2:20
Ques­tion 
Is there any spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions to improve deci­sion mak­ing? and also rec­om­men­da­tions to elim­i­nate con­fu­sion that comes from envi­ron­men­tal stimuli?

2:23
Fac­ulty Answer

Great ques­tions — they are related. Yes, there re rec­om­men­da­tions and tools to improve infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing (your sec­ond ques­tion) and decision-making. In the course we talk about how work­ing mem­ory (WM) and stress/ emo­tions impact decision-making, so any­thing that enhances WM and stress reg­u­la­tion tends to ben­e­fit decision-making

2:24
In ses­sions 2 and 3 we dis­cuss those options in depth. Do you have any spe­cific ques­tion or doubt?

2:27
Going back to the car anal­ogy — there is no one “magic pill” to maintain/ opti­mize car func­tion­ing, but a vari­ety of guide­lines to fol­low. Same with our brain functioning/ decision-making/ info pro­cess­ing — we bet­ter incor­po­rate both the gen­eral “pil­lars” dis­cussed in ses­sion 2 and the more tar­geted tools sur­veyed in lec­ture 3. How to pri­or­i­tize? Each of us has dif­fer­ent start­ing points and objec­tives, so in lec­ture 4 we dis­cuss how to per­son­al­ize, how to pri­or­i­tize what may be the “low hang­ing fruit”

2:27
Ques­tion 
I’m recov­er­ing from an infec­tious ill­ness that, I’m sure, has par­tially messed up my brain’s (& body’s) func­tion (“chronic fatigue syn­drome”, for the last 4 years). Once I get it killed off, beyond the foun­da­tional truths of excel­lent sleep hygiene, mod­er­ate and reg­u­lar aer­o­bic exer­cise, brain-and-body healthy foods, man­ag­ing stress and good social inter­ac­tions, what else can I do to best reha­bil­i­tate it and “get it back into fight­ing shape”? PositScience.com courses, etc.? I’m inter­ested in any sug­ges­tions you might have. :)

2:32
Fac­ulty Answer

This course is not designed to offer clinical/ rehab advice, I’d sug­gest your doc­tor (or even bet­ter, a neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist if you have access to one) is the best per­son to iden­tify and mon­i­tor poten­tial cog­ni­tive deficits and how to best address them. Yes, cog­ni­tive train­ing would make a lot of sense as part of the whole mix, but what par­tic­u­lar domain/ pro­gram is not clear — no pro­gram cov­ers everything.

Hav­ing said that, the gen­eral rec­om­men­da­tions dis­cussed in the course would essen­tially help you accel­er­ate recov­ery. But I insist, you need a doc­tor or neu­ropysh (or per­haps OT) to bet­ter tar­get options and even to mon­i­tor side-effects of medications.

2:32
Ques­tion 
I see you sug­gest some tools such as web­sites, biofeed­back and books. I have used some of these tools; how­ever I am a lit­tle con­fused with which would be the best way to start or what tool so I do not get over­whelmed with to many things at the same time

2:34
Fac­ulty Answer

That is a very com­mon prob­lem, given all the noise out there. I sug­gest you first watch the four lec­tures in the course — then it will become clear where to start. What lec­tures have you watched so far?

2:34
Ques­tion 
Sep­a­rate ques­tion: what are some of the most inter­est­ing things you’ve learned recently related to our topic that you think would be fun and inter­est­ing for us to know? :)

2:35
Fac­ulty Answer

Only yes­ter­day I was talk­ing to a pro­fes­sor at Har­vard and dis­cussing how poorly brain sci­ence is being trans­lated into edu­ca­tion and health pro­grams and prac­tices. So, the fun part is that we have a lot of stim­u­lat­ing work ahead :-)

2:37
Another inter­est­ing thread of research is the impor­tance of bilin­gual edu­ca­tion — speak­ing sev­eral lan­guages for decades helps develop and main­tain decision-making and exec­u­tive func­tions over time, given the addi­tional men­tal work­out involved in select­ing the right words in the right language.

There are many other inter­est­ing areas!

2:37
Ques­tion 
I have watched up to ses­sion III part 1

2:39
Fac­ulty Answer

Super — so what comes next in ses­sion III and IV is pre­cisely how to select the pieces of the jig­saw puz­zle that may most sense for you.

2:39
Ques­tion 
John Ratey (MD) & John Med­ina would agree with you! :)

2:40
Fac­ulty Answer

I think we’d agree on 90% on things and dis­agree on 10%…btw, their books are excel­lent too.

2:40
Ques­tion 
I read that danc­ing is also a great brain exer­ciser, learn­ing new steps, body rhythm and music combined.

2:41
Fac­ulty Answer

Yes. Danc­ing (espe­cially cou­ple danc­ing, where you have to learn and prac­tice com­plex steps) is a great way to com­bine the phys­i­cal and men­tal exer­cise pil­lars we dis­cuss. Now, it is impor­tant to under­stand those pil­lars, and why/ how they are com­ple­men­tary, so we can incor­po­rate them in ways mean­ing­ful to us. Danc­ing may be it, or not.

2:42
Ques­tion 
Besides Sharp­Brains, what are some of your favorite sources of infor­ma­tion that might be help us to be self-empowered stu­dents of neu­ro­science? I became very inter­ested in the sub­ject about 5 years ago — it’s fascinating.

2:43
Fac­ulty Answer

I’d say going straight to the pub­lished sci­ence. Any time you see an inter­est­ing news arti­cle, try to locate the sci­en­tific study and actu­ally read it — these days many stud­ies are free via open jour­nals or via researchers’ websites.

2:44
And many stud­ies cover spe­cific technologies/ prod­ucts, so you could read the sci­ence and exper­i­ment with the tech/ prod­uct at the same time.

2:45
Now, I’d sug­gest fol­low­ing the frame­work in the jig­saw puz­zle to exper­i­ment in a rel­e­vant way…

2:47
Many sci­en­tists have also pub­lished good pop­u­lar sci­ence books — it depends on what your spe­cific inter­est is. Per­haps you can invest in a Kin­dle or sim­i­lar e-reader to access many books at good rates, or become a reg­u­lar patron at your library

2:47
We have 10 min­utes left. Any other question/ comment/ doubt?

2:51
Ques­tion 
Do you know of any espe­cially good online forums or blogs relat­ing to neu­ro­science? I’d like to know where to go to plug into a com­mu­nity of peo­ple who love this stuff, but who are knowl­edge­able and stick to the sci­ence, such as it is.

2:53
Fac­ulty Answer

There are many great sci­ence blogs, a num­ber of which cover brain top­ics. But they have migrated so many times, from sci­ence­blogs to nature to the guardian and others…that, to tell you the truth, I couldn’t sug­gest one spe­cific place to start. We used to run a “blog car­ni­val” called Encephalon with many great blog­gers. That reminds me: a good blog is Mind Hacks

2:53
Ques­tion 
I have fol­lowed a healthy lifestyle; exer­cis­ing, learn­ing a new lan­guage, eat­ing healthy and going to col­lege, etc. How­ever, I notice that me Cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are still very poor. I have trou­ble with exec­u­tive func­tion­ing, mem­ory, atten­tion, etc. Is it [pos­si­ble that they can only improve with cog­ni­tive train­ing tools?

2:56
Fac­ulty Answer

Yes, that is pos­si­ble, but other things may be going on — many med­ical con­di­tions (and medica­ments too) have neg­a­tive cog­ni­tive side effects. So you should reflect on when you started feel­ing that way and con­tact your med­ical provider to see if some­thing else ay be going on

2:56
Time for one last question!

2:58
Ques­tion 
Thank you for shar­ing your knowl­edge and Happy New Year!

2:58
Fac­ulty Answer

OK, bye every­one! Enjoy the lec­tures and activities!

2:58
Ques­tion 
Thanks!

2:58
Ques­tion 
Not a ques­tion, but a com­ment: thank you so much for putting this course together and for what you are doing with Sharp­Brains. It’s a gen­uine force for good in the world, and I’m grate­ful. I wish you the best in your per­sonal and pro­fes­sional life! :)

2:59
[1]Fac­ulty Answer

Thank you for the kind words :-)

We try our best!

 

–> To learn more about the e-course and reg­is­ter: click on  How To Be Your Own Brain Fit­ness Coach [1]

Be Socia­ble, Share!

    Article printed from SharpBrains: http://sharpbrains.com

    URL to article: http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2013/01/24/why-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system/

    URLs in this post:

    [1] Image: http://www.sharpbrains.com/online-course-how-to-be-your-own-brain-fitness-coach-in-2012/

    [2]

  • : http://www.facebook.com/share.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&t=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system

    [3]

  • : http://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system%20-%20http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F%20 SHARETAG

    [4]

  • : http://delicious.com/post?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&title=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system&notes=%28Editor%27s%20Note%3A%20every%20month%20we%20host%20an%20online%20Q%26amp%3BA%20with%20participants%20in%20the%20e-course%20How%20To%20Be%20Your%20Own%20Brain%20Fitness%20Coach.%20This%20is%20the%20lightly%20edited%20and%20anonymized%20transcript%20from%20the%20January%20Q%26amp%3BA%20session%3B%20the%20February%20Q%26amp%3BA%20will%20take%20plac

    [5]

  • : http://reddit.com/submit?url=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&title=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system

    [6] Image: http://www.google.com/bookmarks/mark?op=edit&bkmk=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&title=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system&annotation=%28Editor%27s%20Note%3A%20every%20month%20we%20host%20an%20online%20Q%26amp%3BA%20with%20participants%20in%20the%20e-course%20How%20To%20Be%20Your%20Own%20Brain%20Fitness%20Coach.%20This%20is%20the%20lightly%20edited%20and%20anonymized%20transcript%20from%20the%20January%20Q%26amp%3BA%20session%3B%20the%20February%20Q%26amp%3BA%20will%20take%20plac

    [7]

  • : http://news.ycombinator.com/submitlink?u=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&t=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system

    [8]

  • : http://www.blinklist.com/index.php?Action=Blink/addblink.php&Url=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&Title=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system

    [9]

  • : http://posterous.com/share?linkto=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&title=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system&selection=%28Editor%27s%20Note%3A%20every%20month%20we%20host%20an%20online%20Q%26amp%3BA%20with%20participants%20in%20the%20e-course%20How%20To%20Be%20Your%20Own%20Brain%20Fitness%20Coach.%20This%20is%20the%20lightly%20edited%20and%20anonymized%20transcript%20from%20the%20January%20Q%26amp%3BA%20session%3B%20the%20February%20Q%26amp%3BA%20will%20take%20plac

    [10]

  • : https://mail.google.com/mail/?view=cm&fs=1&to&su=Why%2C%20to%20improve%20memory%2C%20we%20need%20to%20think%20of%20the%20brain%20as%20a%20system&body=http%3A%2F%2Fsharpbrains.com%2Fblog%2F2013%2F01%2F24%2Fwhy-to-improve-memory-we-need-to-think-of-the-brain-as-a-system%2F&ui=2&tf=1&shva=1

    [11] Tweet: https://twitter.com/share

  • Copyright © 2009 SharpBrains. All rights reserved.