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How Does the Brain Affect Our Lives? (Part 10)

A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.

by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist

Vision Problems – with MCI these visual signs may appear:

  • Change in vision

  • Difficulty determining color and contrast

  • Difficulty in judging distance

  • Difficulty reading

  • Inability to recognized faces in photographs

Daily Living Problems – with MCI these signs may appear:

  • Difficulty recalling recent events consistently

  • Repetition requested constantly

  • Difficulty handling financial tasks

  • Difficulty performing household tasks without help

  • Difficulty preparing meals, eating or getting dressed

  • Difficulty remembering a short list of items (i.e. grocery list)

  • Difficulty remembering appointments, important events (i.e. birthdays)

  • Difficulty with driving, following directions, finding familiar places

  • Excessive use of ‘to do’ lists

  • Forgetting current season, month or year

  • Losing common items frequently

  • Problems with judgement (i.e. falling for scams, buying inappropriate gifts)

  • Reduced interest in hobbies/activities

  • Trouble learning how to learn something new p. 54-55

Specific Memory Functions (highlighted text p. 55)

These link the different types of memory and long and short term storage of information:

  • Episodic memory-Binding the “what, where, and when” aspects of events. Most common deficit.

  • Procedural memory – Acquiring and later performing cognitive and motor skills.

  • Prospective memory – Remembering to perform an action in future (i.e. appointment, medication)

  • Semantic memory – Remembering facts and general knowledge about the world.

Four Steps of How Memories Are Made

“For every sensory experience we face, the brain has to notice it, store it, match it other knowledge or previous exposures, and then be able to call upon it when necessary.” P. 56

Memories are stored in the prefrontal cortex and broken up into different bits of information, not as one event. Visual pieces are stored in the occipital lobe, words and lessons learned in the parietal and temporal lobes etc. P. 56

  1. Focus attention to maximize every new exposure. Notice every sensory part of the experience.

  2. During exposure, mentally note and connect to a previous experience.

  3. Explore the experience emotionally.

  4. Replay the experience – an hour later and a day later

We lose memories because we don’t get lost in the details. Sometimes memories are distorted. “Perception is colored by past experiences, associated memories, and current social inputs. p. 57

Tips for Remembering

  1. Look people in the eye. Ask for repetition as needed.

  2. Reread instructions or other reading material.

  3. Repeat aloud.

  4. Minimize interruptions. Prioritize people and events.

  5. Examine a person’s face discreetly during the introduction. Find a distinguishing feature to associate with the name.

Brain Speed Meets Brain Structure

“Besides governing brain processing speed, acetylcholine is also the building block for myelin, a fatty substance that insulates the nervous system, keeping it moist and strong. … With the right amount of myelination, your neuronal circuits fire more rapidly, allowing the neurons to recover faster after signals have been sent, giving brain cells ‘greater bandwidth,’ and boosting their processing capacity. “ p. 60

Smoking is one of the ways people live that affect their memory. Nicotine destroys the brain chemical needed for memory – acetylcholine. P 62

Great news: “Memory loss is reversible.” P. 62

Memory may be the first sign you notice of MCI. P. 62

Next time we will begin the discussion on Attention.


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