Category: Brain Health

You Created Some Great Holiday Memories. Now Hang Onto Them.

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With Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us, you probably had the chance to hang out with friends and family, creating warm, festive memories.

Now all you have to do is remember them.

As we age, memory can weaken. The good news is that memory skills are not “fixed.” You can improve and strengthen your ability to remember important events and details in your life. This is because of something called neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s life-long ability to reorganize, strengthen, and even create brand new connections that allow us to store and retrieve information, including memories!

Here are three ways to protect and even improve your ability to remember the important events and details in your life:

1. Practice the 8-second rule. Sometimes we can’t remember something because we never focused on it long enough to get the information into our memory banks to begin with. By practicing and strengthening your attention skills, your brain will have what it needs to retrieve the information later. A good rule of thumb is to focus for a minimum of eight seconds on whatever it is you want to remember later.

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Seeing Red? How This Favorite Holiday Color Impacts Your Brain

During the holidays, the color red is everywhere we look, from bulbs and bows to Santa’s trademark threads.

What impact does this favorite holiday hue have on your brain?

For starters, studies show that the color red increases appetite (no wonder holiday goodies are so hard to resist!). Also, when people are exposed to the color red, tests show they become more cautious and attentive to detail, and memory skills improve as well.

In one study, more than 600 people were asked to perform various tasks, usually on a computer. When tasks (such as proofreading) required focus, people performed as much as 31 percent better when their computer screen had a red background.

In contrast, researchers say the color red can keep us from performing our best in situations where creativity and analytical thinking are required. For these tasks, people perform better after being exposed to the colors green and blue.

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All I want for Christmas is a Healthier Brain

If a “healthier brain” is on your holiday wish list, you’re in luck. That’s because cranberries–a staple at most holiday feasts–are actually good for your brain.

Studies show that cranberries protect brain cells from free-radical damage that impairs cognitive and motor functions. According to an article in Psychology Today by Hara Estroff Marano, “Aging animals given cranberries showed actual improvements in normal age-related declines in working memory, reference memory, balance and coordination.” In other words, says, Marano, “They were able to keep on learning.”

In fact, when it comes to preserving brain function, cranberries are so powerful they can even reduce impairment following a stroke! In a 2003 study, researchers discovered that by exposing neurons to a concentration of cranberry extract, there was a 50 percent reduction in brain cell death. Catherine Neto, a lead investigator in the study says, “Cranberries have the potential to protect against brain cell damage that occurs during a stroke,” adding, “It may not stop a stroke from occurring, but it may reduce the severity.”

This is good news for many Americans, since as a nation we consume more than five millions gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season. Even John Lennon must have liked cranberries since he confirmed in a 1980 interview that, at the end of the song Strawberry Fields Forever, he can be heard repeating the words “cranberry sauce.”

What does this mean for you and your family this holiday season?

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