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4 Exercises To Sharpen Your Brain
Think of your brain as a muscle: It gets stronger with exercise. Your everyday mental tasks are like walking, but how about a real workout? Try these simple exercises to boost your brain power and clear away the fog of forgetfulness.
1. Use your non-dominant hand
Tackling new tasks improves brain capacity in younger people and has a restorative effect on mental faculties that are declining. Boost your brain power right now by performing everyday activities with your non-dominant hand. If you're right-handed, use your left hand to eat, drink, comb your hair, and brush your teeth. Try writing your name with your non-dominant hand or put your mouse pad on the other side of the keyboard.
Aluminum And Alzheimers Disease
Large amounts of aluminum are usually found in the brain of a patient with Alzheimer's. This has led others to think that the disease is caused by using aluminum cooking pots and pans or ingesting oral antacids or antiperspirants containing aluminum.
It's a nice thought but one with no scientific basis. Professor Luigi Amaducci of the Department of Neurologic & Psychiatric Sciences at the University Of Florence said other patients with Alzheimer's don't have aluminum plaques in the brain which rules out this metal as the cause of the disease.
"There has been some concern in recent years that dietary aluminum may lead to Alzheimer's disease or senile dementia in older people. This concern arises from the fact that greater levels of aluminum are found in brain tissue of people dying from Alzheimer's disease than in brain tissue from people dying from other causes," according to Dr. Myron Winick, director of the Institute of Human Nutrition, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in The Columbia Encyclopedia of Nutrition.
Be A Brain Scientist
"To think is to practice brain chemistry." - Deepak Chopra
Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, I'm no brain scientist¦"? Quite recently I had lunch with a friend while he was on a break from work. When he ordered a beer I raised my eyebrows in mock astonishment. He replied "It's not like I'm performing brain surgery later."
But we are all brain scientists. Our thoughts really do affect our brain chemistry. And we can be like surgeons in our ability to carefully excise negative thoughts from our gray matter.
Our patterns of thought are simply habits, but they are grounded in rich neural circuitry. Like deer in the woods, our thoughts form paths that will most likely be retread unless we consciously set out to find a new way. The first step to that new way is to be aware that thoughts can either be unconscious or conscious.
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Reducing Your Stress Levels By Retraining The Amygdala At Home
The Amygdala is the body's 'anxiety Switch'
The amygdala gland belongs to the limbic system and plays an important part in the development of emotions. It was only recently (1989, New York Medical University) that scientists discovered the role of the amygdala gland in storing and releasing emotional trauma. The amygdala gland is found about 1" into the forehead where your index fingers fall. A simple way to locate the amygdala gland is by placing your thumbs in your ears, and then place your middle fingers near the inside corners of your eyes.
Under normal circumstances, it remains in the 'off' position, only becoming activated when appropriate anxiety is required, in times of appropriate danger or threat for example.
Repeated activation of this 'switch', during times of stress, sadness, grief or anger for example, can cause it to become 'stuck' in the 'on' position. This allows acute anxiety disorders, panic attacks and phobias to develop.
This happens when the Amygdala learns new behavior. Because it has been taught a new level of anxiety through your anxious behavior, it incorrectly resets itself to the new 'benchmark' or 'normal' anxiety level for your body.
Even though you consciously know that it feels wrong, you are unable to consciously alter it once it has become set.
This process of learning is called Operant Conditioning. Scientists have known for many years that this is responsible for the production of all anxiety disorders, including panic attacks and phobias. Under normal conditions, Operant Conditioning is used by the brain to acquire new knowledge, like learning to read, drive or play a musical instrument. Practicing (repeating) an action or group of actions, causes us to improve the skill.
This same process happens in every single anxiety disorder sufferer. It is what causes anxiety, panic attacks and phobias. It is this and nothing else, which needs to be addressed and reversed in order to quickly and permanently eliminate anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD and agoraphobia.
All of these conditions, regardless of how severe they are or how long you have had them, are a result of the very same mechanism and therefore require the very same treatment.
Traditional methods, such as Psychology and Psychiatry, use 'talking therapy' to identify the cause of your anxiety or panic attacks, then analyze it over and over again, giving you exercises to follow or even diaries to fill in. The cause of anxiety disorders and panic attacks is not the 'life event' that created the stressful environment (abuse, bereavement, work stress etc.)
The actual cause is the way the Amygdala responded to that event and continues to produce anxiety and panic attacks, long after the event (when the Amygdala 'switch' gets stuck 'on'.)
By revisiting the perceived 'causes' during therapy and analyzing your actions, you are actually reinforcing the anxiety, practicing it and making it habitual, because it is remains at the very forefront of your mind!
Researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered a high tech way to quell panic in rats, and this has now also been shown to work in exactly the same way in humans. The scientists detected the brain's equivalent of an "all clear" signal that, when simulated, ˜turns off' fear. The discovery has lead to non-drug, physiological treatments for runaway fear responses seen in anxiety disorders.
Rats normally freeze with fear when they hear a tone they have been conditioned to associate with an electric shock. Dr. Gregory Quirk and Mohammed Milad, Ponce School of Medicine, Puerto Rico, have now demonstrated that stimulating a site in the front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, extinguishes this fear response by mimicking the brain's own "safety signal."
The researchers recorded electrical activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex as rats were fear-conditioned ” taught to fear a tone by repeatedly pairing it with a shock. Then they abolished this conditioned fear by presenting the tone without the shock; the animals no longer froze when they heard the tone.
Although inactive during both procedures, neurons near the middle of the prefrontal cortex, the infralimbic area, fired conspicuously when the tone was sounded on the following day. This activity proved to be the brain's way of signaling that the tone no longer presaged a shock. The more the cells fired ” i.e., the louder this safety signal ” the less the rats froze. Animals that showed the most infralimbic activity behaved as if they had never been fear conditioned at all.
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