Deciphering how the brain works is one of the great ambitions of scientists. For this reason, new discoveries emerge every day that would make it possible to enhance the functioning of the brain, cure diseases and protect memory .
LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos
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Memory loss and mental decline is one of the biggest concerns for people as they age. For this reason, people usually look for foods or activities that help protect the brain and stimulate its proper functioning.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "dementia is a syndrome involving impairment of memory, intellect, behavior and the ability to perform activities of daily living." This organization estimates that there are around 50 million who suffer from it and every day their number increases more. In addition, it is one of the main causes of disability and dependency in the elderly. It is usually caused by damage to the brain or diseases such as Alzheimer's.
We recommend you read: Aging or Alzheimer's? How to Differentiate and Identify Them
However, with age it is also normal for memory, reasoning or comprehension functions to begin to deteriorate. In fact, according to a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) , cognitive functions can begin to deteriorate from the age of 45. Next, we tell you about the latest findings of scientific teams on treatments to protect memory and brain function.
How brain waves work
Neurons establish communication through electrical impulses. The set of these impulses forms what is known as brain waves. "Studies have strongly linked brain waves to memory consolidation during sleep and have implicated them in processing sensory input and even in coordinating consciousness," notes a publication in the journal Nature.
Likewise, the magazine notes that "more than two dozen clinical trials aim to modulate brain waves in some way, some with flashing lights or rhythmic sounds, but most through the direct application of electrical currents to the brain or the skin. Their goal is to treat everything from insomnia to schizophrenia to premenstrual dysphoric disorder."
Flashing lights and pink noise could banish Alzheimer's and protect memory
Li-Huei Tsai, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has conducted a series of experiments on mice with Alzheimer's that were cured through light stimulation. Although flashing lights have not been tested in humans, their study provides evidence that stimulation with flashing lights could also work in humans. In such a way, brain waves would be manipulated.
On the other hand, there is a project known as Memowave, which has worked with pink noise to stimulate the brain and treat cognitive decline. An article published by the Journal of the Alzheimer's Association explains how this project gives patients pink noise during waves of sleep for the "consolidation of memory, attention, executive functions, insight, creativity and mood in patients with mild cognitive impairment". It is a non-invasive and easy-to-apply therapeutic method.
Electrical stimulation to improve memory
A study published this year in the journal Nature Neuroscience shows evidence that applying weak electrical currents to the brain has an impact on improving memory. The experiment, led by Robert Reinhart, a cognitive neuroscientist at Boston University, tested this therapy on people over the age of 65. The findings showed that it had a positive effect on their brain, which they tested with exercises that stimulated long-term memory.
Although this study is encouraging, more tests are still needed to see what its impact may be on different cognitive diseases. "We hope to expand this work significantly and contribute more information about how the brain works," the team reported.
Recommendations to take care of memory
There are a series of habits, which ideally should be carried out from a young age, to take care of brain function and memory. First of all, healthy habits such as avoiding smoking, consuming alcohol in excess or avoiding sugary foods are necessary. Likewise, it is convenient to include oily fish, healthy fats, nuts and green leaves in the diet.
On the other hand, " Regular exercise stimulates the growth of brain cells and the production of neurotransmitters, improving memory. A combination of aerobic (cardio) and strength exercises is best," according to information from the Medical Journal of Harvard. Likewise, it is convenient to stimulate the brain with readings, learning, trips, games and, in general, those activities that imply mental effort.