Tag Archives: learning

Controlling Memory By Triggering Specific Brain Waves During Sleep – IBS

Have you ever tried to recall something just before going to sleep and then wake up with the memory fresh in your mind? While we absorb so much information during the day consciously or unconsciously, it is during shut eye that a lot of facts are dispatched to be filed away or fall into oblivion. A good quality sleep is the best way to feel mentally refreshed and memorize new information, but how is the brain working while we sleep? Could we improve such process to remember more, or maybe even use it to forget unwanted memories?

I would just like to add that my Page – How important is a good night’s sleep? includes further information on how the brain benefits from good sleep habits.

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Scientists at the Center for Cognition and Sociality, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), enhanced or reduced mouse memorization skills by modulating specific synchronized brain waves during deep sleep. This is the first study to show that manipulating sleep spindle oscillations at the right timing affects memory. The full description of the mouse experiments, conducted in collaboration with the University of Tüebingen, is published in the journal Neuron.

The research team concentrated on a non-REM deep sleep phase that generally happens throughout the night, in alternation with the REM phase. It is called slow-wave sleep and it seems to be involved with memory formation, rather than dreaming. Continue reading

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Filed under brain, brain function, brain health, good night's sleep, Healthy brain, sleep

Of cats and dogs and cliches …

I was reading this morning and ran into the cliche you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I have to tell you that this is one particularly annoying expression to me. This is another of the general negativity directed toward seniors.

By the time I retired, I had become something of an expert on markets. After 20 years spent writing about international markets for Reuters News Service I went on to write for the Investments Department of a major philanthropic organization. The final five years of my working life I actually managed the investment of $900 million in the debt market.

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Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

After retiring, at the age of 70, I started writing this blog. It had nothing to do with markets or the economy. The primary focus was weight loss in the beginning, but after taking a number of courses on nutrition, anatomy, physiology, the brain, longevity and yoga, to name a few, I expanded the scope to focus on good nutrition, exercise and living past 100 while keeping our mental faculties intact.

So, I contend that you can teach an old dog, me, new tricks. I think that you need to cleanse yourself of cliches like that as they are absolutely negative and do nothing but jam a road block into your path.

While on the subject of negative cliches, another troubling one that springs to mind is curiosity killed the cat. I am not sure why, but I hear that one a lot. What’s wrong with being curious? Since when is curiosity a bad thing? I consider curiosity one of my best traits.

In researching the saying, it seems it started otherwise than we know it today. The original word was care not curiosity and the meaning had to do with care and worry, That is, too much worrying killed the cat. This varies from what we know today as curiosity – digging into a subject to find out more. So, it’s current usage has run totally askew from its origin. Yet it persists in this new and troublesome form.

Since many of my readers are fellow bloggers, you know how much a part that true curiosity plays in your most meaningful posts. I certainly do.

Finally, we all know how important it is to avoid cliches, not just negative ones. Nothing bogs down writing faster and glazes over the eyes of a reader more effectively than cliche-ridden sentences. So, I beg you to avoid cliches like the plague.

You got that last one, didn’t you?

Tony

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Filed under cliches, curiosity

Digital media may be changing how you think

New study finds users focus on concrete details rather than the big picture


As a big user of my iPad and iPhone for reading I was surprised to learn that they impacted my comprehension.

Tablet and laptop users beware. Using digital platforms such as tablets and laptops for reading may make you more inclined to focus on concrete details rather than interpreting information more abstractly, according to a new study published in the proceedings of ACM CHI ’16, the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, to be held May 7-12, 2016. The findings serve as another wake-up call to how digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought.

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The research tested the basic question: would processing the same information on a digital versus non-digital platform affect “construal levels”– the fundamental level of concreteness versus abstractness that people use in perceiving and interpreting behaviors, events and other informational stimuli. In order to study the basic question of whether processing the same information on one platform or the other would trigger a different baseline “interpretive lens” or mindset that would influence construals of information, the research tried to hold as many factors as possible constant between the digital and non-digital platforms. Reading material and other content for the study for example, was published using the same print size and format in both the digital and non-digital (print) versions. The research was comprised of four studies that evaluated how information processing is affected by each platform. A total of more than 300 participants, ages 20 to 24 years old, took part in the studies, which were comprised of 60 to 100+ participants.

Reading comprehension and problem solving success were affected by the type of platform used. Highlights from the studies include the following:
Continue reading

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Filed under brain function, digital media, Uncategorized

Can Exercise Help Me To Learn?

“Exercise helps you to learn on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus,” so says Spark, the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Author John J. Ratey, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Besides, Spark, he also wrote A User’s Guide to the Brain among other books.

The hippocampus plays a major role in the consolidation of information from long term memory and short term memory. So, clearly, exercise plays an important role for seniors who are concerned about their memory failing in their latter years.

One distinction needs to be made here. You can’t learn difficult material while you are exercising because blood is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex and this hampers your executive function. Dr. Ratey quotes a study of college students who were working out on treadmills and exercise bikes at a high rate. They performed poorly on tests of complex learning. “However blood flow shifts back almost immediately after you finish exercising, and this is the perfect time to focus on a project that demands sharp thinking and complex analysis.”

He enumerates an experiment that was done on 40 adults aged 50 to 64. They were asked to do one 35 minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Afterwards, they were asked to list alternative uses for common objects, like a newspaper. It is used for reading, but can be used to wrap fish, line a bird cage, etc. Half of the group watched a movie and the other half exercised. They were tested three times, before the session, immediately after the session and then 20 minutes later. The results of the movie watchers showed no change, but the runners improved their processing speed and cognitive flexibility after just one session. “Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs.” The doctor recommends going for a short, intense run at lunchtime ahead of an important brain-storming session at work.

spark-book I have enjoyed Dr. Ratey’s book and recommend it to readers of the blog. You can get a look at the book on the Amazon website and purchase it from there if you like it.

As regular readers know, I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. I am a total believer in this exercise-learning hypothesis. If I don’t ride my bike every day, I manage a five mile walk, climb 30 flights of stairs, or take a trip to the health club. I ain’t sittin’ around doin’ nothin’.

I have repeated the phrase, Use it or Lose it time and again in this blog. In this case, using the body promotes healthy mental processes as well as good physical results.

Tony

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Filed under Exercise, exercise and brain health

Listening to Music can Help and Hinder Learning – Infographic

When I was younger I always had music playing no matter what I was doing. Now that I am an old man, I still love music, but I don’t play it when I am writing blog posts or doing things that require concentration.

It’s nice to know that it lowers blood pressure and reduces stress.

How about you?

b6348233216067c7a2f5641cc9047ed9Tony

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How the Brain Benefits from Exercise – Infographic

I feel strongly that the importance of exercise to the brain is largely overlooked in the world of fitness. The following are from just 20 minutes of exercise.

To read much more on this, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

TrRwfye

Tony

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Filed under brain, Exercise

Can Exercise Help Me To Learn?

“Exercise helps you to learn on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus,” so says Spark, the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Author John J. Ratey, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Besides, Spark, he also wrote A User’s Guide to the Brain among other books.

The hippocampus plays a major role in the consolidation of information from long term memory and short term memory. So, clearly, exercise plays an important role for seniors who are concerned about their memory failing in their latter years.

One distinction needs to be made here. You can’t learn difficult material while you are exercising because blood is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex and this hampers your executive function. Dr. Ratey quotes a study of college students who were working out on treadmills and exercise bikes at a high rate. They performed poorly on tests of complex learning. “However blood flow shifts back almost immediately after you finish exercising, and this is the perfect time to focus on a project that demands sharp thinking and complex analysis.”

He enumerates an experiment that was done on 40 adults aged 50 to 64. They were asked to do one 35 minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Afterwards, they were asked to list alternative uses for common objects, like a newspaper. It is used for reading, but can be used to wrap fish, line a bird cage, etc. Half of the group watched a movie and the other half exercised. They were tested three times, before the session, immediately after the session and then 20 minutes later. The results of the movie watchers showed no change, but the runners improved their processing speed and cognitive flexibility after just one session. “Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs.” The doctor recommends going for a short, intense run at lunchtime ahead of an important brain-storming session at work.

spark-book I have enjoyed Dr. Ratey’s book and recommend it to readers of the blog. You can get a look at the book on the Amazon website and purchase it from there if  you like it.

As regular readers know, I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. I am a total believer in this exercise-learning hypothesis. If I don’t ride my bike every day, I manage a five mile walk, climb 30 flights of stairs, or take a trip to the health club. I ain’t sittin’ around doin’ nothin’.

I have repeated the phrase, Use it or Lose it time and again in this blog. In this case, using the body promotes healthy mental processes as well as good physical results.

Tony

4 Comments

Filed under aging, brain, Exercise, John J Ratey MD, memory, Spark