Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Desperately Seeking Wisdom

Years ago -- it seems like a lifetime, in fact -- when I was first introduced to the Internet, whenever any invitations to take part in a quiz or some kind of questionnaire would pop up, I'd be intrigued, and tend to respond. At one point, I even signed up to be a regular for a well-known polling group, until I'd completed a few polls and became rather bored and even disgusted with the realization that this was a completely commercial focus that I was lending myself to.

It was a marketing tool for the polling firm, to satisfy the market needs of their clients. And since my interest in acquiring the latest electronic gadgets, associated software, and use of various types of food products, particularly those that had been processed slightly beyond the 'food' range as I saw it was severely limited, I soon cut off any further acquiescence to continue being a source of data in subjects I had no interest in. I certainly had no interest in promoting commercial products, nor of assisting the manufacturers or distributors of those products to enlarge their sales opportunities.

Which brings me to the latest types of pop-ups, those blithely guaranteeing seniors that with the use of their brilliantly-devised mind games, the brains of those teetering on their golden years could be enhanced, enabled to battle Alzheimer's before it took a toehold. I view all come-ons askance, and these in particular. While at the same time acknowledging that what isn't being used to its full potential will incrementally degrade.

It's not that I particularly gear any of my activities toward the preservation of my grey matter. What does happen, though, is that I continue to be psychologically involved in what goes on about me, and I use my brain and my communication skills such as they are to advantage. Reading, writing, making contact, conversing, attempting to solve the many puzzles of human emotions, behaviour, including dysfunctions. And, needless to say, remaining physically active.

I've read that roughly one hundred research studies on cognitive training have been published, all of them said to have been peer reviewed. The result being that researchers appear not to be in accord whether brain training works and if it does happens to work, which regimen is most effective. What was also pointed out is that training games offered by commercial companies have no research backing them up to support their advertised efficacy.

Neuroscientist Dr. Adrian Owen studied over eleven thousand people busying their brains in commercial brain training, in 2010. Their purpose was to improve memory, reasoning, attention and other abilities. Dr. Owen discovered no evidence that general cognitive ability was improved through training.

He did acknowledge that the subjects improved their ability to succeed at the cognitive tasks they were trained on, but "no evidence was found for transfer effects to untrained tasks, even when those tasks were cognitively closely related".

On the other hand, it appears to be a scientifically proven fact that we can enhance memory, boost our cognitive thinking and reduce the risk of dementia by enjoying certain foods:
  • Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, powerful antioxidants with memory- and mood-enhancing properties;
  • Oily fish like salmon, trout, sardines and mackerel -- and more -- are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, great for healthy brain function;
  • Green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, bok choy and brussels sprouts contain antioxidants, vitamin C and plant compounds called carotenoids, powerful brain protectors;
  • Curry contains a chemical called curcumin which research has identified to boost memory, slowing the progression of Alzheimer's;
  • Seeds and nuts are good sources of vitamin E, helping to reduce cognitive decline in the elderly;
  • Blueberries help protect the brain from stress, and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions like Alzheimer's or dementia.

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