10 Easy Ways to Boost Your Memory

Worried about fading brain power?
If you’re older than 27, you have good reason.

That’s the age when cognitive skills start to decline, according to new University of Virginia research. But while some changes in thinking and memory are inevitable as we age, the good news is that lifestyle seems to be able to blunt those effects — and keep many minds working sharply well into old age.

That’s reassuring, given headlines from the Alzheimer’s Association’s new annual report showing that every 70 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s (the most common form of dementia). Debilitating memory loss doesn’t happen to everyone, though. Learn what you can do to preserve yours.memory .

Booster #1. Take the stairs

Exercise benefits your head as much as the rest of your body, a growing number of studies indicate. Overall cardiorespiratory fitness also lowers the risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems — all known risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Theories on why that’s so range from improved blood flow to the brain to less brain shrinkage.

Experts recommend making regular aerobic workouts part of your routine. Failing that, it appears that even small efforts add up. So avoid elevators. Park at the far end of the parking lot. Start by walking around your block in the evenings, and add a few minutes more each day.

Memory Booster #2: Change your wallpaper

When doing routine things, the brain runs on autopilot. Novelty, on the other hand, literally fires up the brain as new data creates and works new neural pathways.

So shake up what you see and do every day: If your computer screen background is “invisible” to you, run a program that mixes it up every day or every hour. Take a different route home from work. Brush your teeth with your nondominant hand. Buy, borrow, or download a book that makes you think about new ideas.

Memory Booster #3. Steal some zzz’s by daylight

It’s while you’re sleeping that your brain sorts, consolidates, and stores memories accumulated during the day — that’s why eight hours at night is so valuable. But a mere six-minute nap is as valuable as a full night’s sleep to short-term recall, according to German research. And a 90-minute nap has been shown to speed up the process that helps the brain consolidate long-term memories.

Memory Booster #4. Take a mental “photograph”

Memories aren’t just stored in one spot in the brain; bits of data are processed and stored in different areas. To help make the memory of an incident last, take a “snapshot” of it while you’re in the moment, using all your senses. Look around and think about what you see. Notice colors and textures. What do you smell? If you’re eating or drinking (or kissing), what’s the taste?

This “mental camera” trick can help you hang onto a happy memory longer. But it can also help you remember where you parked your car.

Memory Booster #5. Eat less – Eat Right

After only 12 weeks, healthy volunteers (average age 60) who reduced their daily calories by 30 percent scored 20 percent better on memory tests, University of Munster (Germany) researchers reported in January. The possible reason: decreased levels of insulin, created when the body processes food, and of the inflammation-associated molecule C-reactive protein. Both factors are linked to improved memory function.

The people in the study were cautioned not to consume fewer than 1,200 calories a day. If cutting back on your diet by nearly a third seems too daunting, focus on eating less fat, meat, and dairy products. Earlier this year, Columbia University Medical Center researchers reported that in a long-term study of more than 1,300 participants, those with the highest adherence to a Mediterranean diet — rich in vegetables, legumes, fish, and monounsaturated oils (like olive oil) but low in fat, beef, and dairy — had the lowest risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

Memory Booster #6. Try a “brain-training” game — or join a “brain gym”

The science is promising, if not conclusive, as to whether so-called brain-fitness software can actually improve memory. A study in the April 2009 *Journal of the American Geriatric Society* shows that people over 65 who used a computerized cognitive training program for an hour a day, over a period of eight weeks, improved memory and attention more than a control group.

Memory Booster #7. Spend some time online

Neuroscientist Gary Small, director of the UCLA Memory & Aging Center and author of *iBrain*, says searching the Web is a bit like using a brain-training course. His researchers used MRI to measure brain activity in Web users ages 55 to 76; the net-savvy users showed twice as much brain activity, especially regarding decision making.

Memory Booster #8. Stop and sip a cuppa

Green and black teas have a protective effect on memory, possibly by influencing enzymes in the brain. The caffeine sparks concentration, too. And people who drink moderate amounts of coffee at midlife — as many as three to five cups — have lower odds of developing dementia in late life, Finnish and French researchers say.

Another benefit: Taking a coffee or tea break in your day (or three times a day) is a good opportunity for destressing.Memory

Booster #9. See a doctor if you feel depressed

Maybe it’s “just a mood.” But untreated depression is common and can impair memory. Talk therapy and/or antidepressant medication can resolve the problem. Two red flags worth mentioning to a physician: a loss of interest in things that once gave you pleasure and a persistent sense of hopelessness.

People at higher risk for depression include caregivers of older people and those who have a family history of depression.

Memory Booster #10. Take the “multi” out of your tasking

Especially when they’re trying to learn something new, people remember less well later if they were multitasking while learning, UCLA researchers have shown. If, for example, you’re studying while listening to the radio, your memory recall may be dependent on the music to help you later retrieve the information during the test — except, of course, that you can’t usually replicate the same circumstances (like music during a test).

Try to learn something new — reading a contract or directions, copying a skill — when you can give it your full concentration. Cut out distractions like the TV in the background or pausing every few seconds when you hear the “ding” of your e-mail or text-message inbox.

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Making Artificial Body Parts Becoming A Reality

It Sounds Like A Sci-Fi Movie
Doctors Growing Body Parts To Cure Our Ills.

It sounds like a sci-fi movie – doctors growing body parts to cure our ills. But thanks to incredible breakthroughs, bionic repairs for humans are fast becoming a reality.

Experts yesterday revealed they are perfecting “off the shelf” blood vessels, which could revolutionise treatment of heart attacks and strokes.

If the Cambridge University blood vessel team is successful, patients could be spared major operations. The test tube vessels may also treat kidney dialysis patients and repair injuries.

And because the patient’s own skin cells are used, there is less chance of rejection.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This is very advanced. Growing blood vessels means they could be used off the shelf and be put into patients who need bypasses in a leg or heart, which is currently done using their own veins.”

Here are other ways science is giving nature a helping hand…

1. EYES

Experts are working on a cure for blindness – and have taken huge strides towards their goal.

Miikka Terho, 46, from Finland, who suffered an inherited form of blindness called retinitis pigmentosa, was fitted with an experimental chip behind his retina in Germany. It works by converting light that enters the eye into electrical impulses fed into the optic nerve, restoring some vision.

2. EARS

Bionic ears are transforming the lives of patients. They send sounds from a microphone through a metal coil to electrodes inside the inner ear.

A seven-year-old boy, Troy Probert, who was left deaf after seven meningitis bouts, was able to hear again thanks to computer-activated cochlear implants.

3. WINDPIPE

Patients whose windpipes are ravaged by cancer can have new ones grown in the lab. Scientists at University College London crafted a fake windpipe filled with cells taken from a patient’s own bone marrow. Once fitted, the cells divided and grew to make an organ indistinguishable from a normal one.

4. BRAIN

Brain “pacemakers” are being developed to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Patients with the implants, which send electronic impulses deep inside the brain, reported fewer tremors and stiffness. It involves inserting a wire with electrodes at its tip, which is connected to a small “neurostimulator” unit.

5. FACE

A liquid that can be injected into the face is being developed to help treat disfigured people. Surgeons could use it to rebuild areas damaged by disease or injury.

The liquid, created by Alexander Hillel and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, US, can be massaged into shape and set using a special light beam.

6. ARM

Amputees could be given a new lease of life with bionic limbs. Livingston-based Touch Bionics’ prostethic arm allowed Patrick Kane, 13, who lost his arm through meningitis, to squash grapes between his fingers.

When he tenses a muscle, tiny pulses of electricity from nerves beneath the electrodes cause the hand to close – and the same process applies for opening his fist.

7. SPINE

Paralysed people have been given hope of using their legs again thanks to research using electrodes.

Baseball star Rob Summers, who was told he would be wheelchair-bound after being hit by a speeding car in Portland, Oregon, US, made medical history as the first person paralysed from the chest down to stand and take a step unaided.

Summers’ legs were able to move because of electrical stimulation from a device implanted in his lower spine.

8. SKIN

Artificial skin used to heal wounds has been developed by UK researchers.

Writing in the journal Regenerative Medicine, UK-based company Intercytex said it had produced promising results in early trials. The skin is made from fibrin gel, a blood clotting protein, and fibroblast cells found in human skin.

9. LEGS

A prosthetic leg that can be programmed for different types of activity and adjusted by Bluetooth has developed by a UK firm.

The limb, which was designed by Otto Bock Healthcare and fitted by ProActive Prosthetics in Elstead, contains a micro-processor which can differentiate between 10 types of activity.

Amputee Matthew Newbury, who is said to be the first person to have the limb fitted, said: “I don’t have to think about every step and therefore I’m not tiring myself out.”

10. PANCREAS

An artificial pancreas has been developed that could be a major advance in the treatment of diabetes.

The metal pancreas, which holds a supply of the hormone insulin kept in place by a gel barrier, could lead to daily insulin injections to control blood sugar levels being unnecessary in the future.

Invented by Professor Joan Taylor at De Montfort University in Leicester, it could move to clinical trials within the next few years.

11. WOMB

Doctors are developing artificial wombs in which embryos can grow outside a woman’s body.

Embryos successfully attached themselves to the walls of these laboratory wombs and began to grow. However, experiments had to be terminated after a few days to comply with in-vitro fertilisation regulations.

12. MUSCLES

Scientists are working on providing replacement muscles for people who suffered serious sporting injuries or damaged limbs in accidents.

They are using gels that expand and contract in response to small electrical currents to create synthetic muscles for replacing heart valves. Scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena are aiming to develop an arm powered by bionic muscles made from these “electroactive polymers” that would be capable of winning an arm-wrestling contest.

13. BLOOD

Artificial blood created from stem cells could soon be tested on Britons.

The Edinburgh and Bristol university scientists behind the research, which could provide industrial-scale quantities of blood, believe it will transform transfusions by preventing hospital shortages and save thousands of lives on battlefields and at the scene of car crashes.

If they crack the recipe, just one human embryo could theoretically provide all the cells ever needed for Britain’s blood supply.

14. LIVER

Scientists have managed to produce a small-scale version of a human liver in the laboratory using stem cells.

The success increases hope new transplant livers could be manufactured, although experts say this is still many years away. UK researchers said it was an “exciting development” but insisted it was not yet certain a fully-functioning liver was possible.

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