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Continuing The Series On Brain Plasticity By Guest Author Anna Kucirkova

Ways To Harness Plasticity

harness plasticity

With the right circumstances, the power of brain plasticity can help adult minds grow. Although certain brain functions decay with age, people can tap into plasticity and refresh the brain.

Targeted brain plasticity exercises help to keep our brains fit. Even those suffering from brain damage may be able to retrain their brains for better function. The key is identifying what brain functions to target and how to best exercise them.

Researchers suggest that there are various methods of harnessing brain plasticity:

Intermittent Fasting

The Society for Neuroscience suggests that fasting increases synaptic plasticity, decreases risk of neurodegenerative diseases, promotes neuron growth and improves cognitive function. When you fast, a metabolic shift reduces the body’s leptin levels. Thus, the brain receives a chemical signal for neurons to produce more energy.

Travel

Traveling encourages neurogenesis by exposing your brain to new, fresh, and complex environments. Paul Nussbaum, a neuropsychologist from the University of Pittsburgh explains, “Those new and challenging situations cause the brain to sprout dendrites.” And a week-long tour of another country isn’t necessary to get this benefit; take a weekend road trip to a different city.

Use Mnemonic Devices

Memory training promotes connectivity in your brain’s prefrontal parietal network and can slow memory loss with age. Mnemonic devices combine visualization, imagery, spatial navigation, and rhythm and melody, so they can reach various parts of the brain simultaneously.

Learn an Instrument

Musicians’ brains show sharp connectivity between brain areas. Neuroscientists explain that the multi-sensory experience of playing a musical instrument allows for the association of motor actions with specific sounds, and memorizing visual patterns leads to new neural networks being formed. As you practice a new instrument, the repetition will allow for neuroplasticity to do its work.

Non-Dominant Hand Exercises

Using your non-dominant hand during routine tasks can help form new neural pathways. Doing this strengthens connectivity between your brain cells. Studies also show that non-dominant hand activities improve emotional health and impulse control. Try switching hands during some simple tasks and give your brain a test.

Read Fiction

Studies show increased and ongoing connectivity in the brains of participants after reading a novel. Enhanced brain activity occurred in the brain area that controls physical sensations and movement. Scientists explain that reading a novel can be a physical transportation into the fictional world. Shifting into this mental state is crucial for learning how to have complex social relationships.

Expand your Vocabulary

When you learn new words, the brain’s visual processes, memory processes, and auditory processes activate. The smaller your vocabulary, the more likely you are to have poor cognitive skills.

Sleep

Studies show that sleep “helps learning retention with the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions that connect brain cells and facilitates the passage of information across synapses.” Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night will help the brain retain information.

Try at least one of these ways and disprove the old idea that we lose brain function as we age.  The last part of this age will be published next week.

Aging Gracefully For Other People, Not yourself (Or Thinking About (“A Place For Mom”) ut

 

With the Baby Boomers coming into the picture, there are more of us who are dealing with the problems of aging.  One of them occurs when others tell those who are aging what they should do and how they should be.  This makes those among us who are aging feel that we are no longer in charge of our own destinies and that it is all downhill the rest of our lives.  Thus we tend not to maintain our intellect, our bodies, and our skills.

Another problem is we seem to not be able to know our own minds, understand our own medical problems, and what we are capable or not capable of doing.  Recently I began treatment for sleep apnea.  I realized from what the doctors said and what I have read and experienced that it was serious enough that it was occasionally interfering with my consciousness and this led to me not driving for a while until my sleep apnea improved with the use of a CPAP machine.

How this problem with sleep apnea was interpreted by some of my family was wrong and I got criticized for saying anything to the doctor (while it really was the truth).  I wound up losing my right to drive until it cleared up.  P.S. I had wanted my family (just before this happened) to drive me to get immediate medical care for asthma on one of these occasions that I experienced this while driving.

 

Secondly, there were no restrictions on my driving before this happened; but after, my family wants to place restrictions on my driving which would include having someone with me and limiting my driving to a certain local area.  While I am limiting my driving on my own to local communities, doctor’s appointments, and church, having certain someone’s with me inspecting my driving isn’t going to help matters.  I want my mind on the wheel and not on those kinds of distractions.

I have physical disabilities, but over time I have improved in terms of what I can and can not do.  Aren’t I supposed to get worse or might that really happen because I am supposed to give up and totally decline in terms of what I am able to do?  I have increased the amount of housekeeping and shopping I do.  I babysit grandchildren while my husband watches TV.  Keeps me busy.  I post on my website each week and balance my checkbook and pay my bills each month.  I have traveled sometimes on my own.

Question is how do those younger in my family or other younger acquaintances perceive me?  Is it for their own convenience or is it from their misguided perceptions of aging?  Beware, is aging caused by time or by what other people expect or by just giving up?

I continually increase my current knowledge in many areas (usually by reading).  I do scan the internet, I watch the news, I follow fashion magazines and TV programs, and I follow the interior decorating channels and magazines as well as religious and spiritual issues in print, on TV, and the internet.  I even talk to myself (sometimes I don’t have an appropriate audience) and my friends formulating ideas for presentations I would like to give on various subjects.  Oh, and my family worries if I say anything on the internet or in my blog I might embarrass myself (what about them?).  P.S. they don’t read my blog and if they did it probably it would probably be to edit it, not read it.  I have been writing this blog for five years.

The Little PEOPLE

happyoldercoupleEvery time I think that the Little PEOPLE are getting ahead, I realise they aren’t.  I was very happy with the recent election because I felt that the new administration was supporting the middle class that was no longer the middle class under the current, soon past administration.

grandparent-and-grandchildWhat I have recently realised is that I have joined the lower class (once working class or even middle class in many situations).  We are squeaking by on social security and disability payments (which have been borrowed from to pay other government expenses)  and have to seek help like free food from The Master’s Hand locally.  Also in this area, if you have farm income (that counts against you as it is considered income before farming expenses are taken out) in terms of getting any extra government help.farmgrandchild

Most of us would contribute something to the economy if there was a way we could.  Most of us would like to have a voice in the new administration.  For example, most of Illinois voted for the new administration except for the heavily populated urban areas.  But where is our voice?  No one campaigned in our areas and we feel that no one has listened to our concerns.  What do you think?  Are there other areas of our country in the same shape?

Expert-Full-NYC-3Also who is the voice of the forgotten little people?  On the network that supported the election of the new administration, we are not represented.  They are again relying on experts who have no real life experience or it is so far in the remote past that they don’t remember it or so far removed from it, it doesn’t matter anymore.

rp_362536218_150_150.jpgAlso, there is pressure on these experts, especially women, to conform to certain standards not representative of the men and/or do not reflect what ordinary people look like.  It is nice for some of us to remain “young” and look youthful but is not the way most people look and it is easier to see the standards for men are less stringent than for women.rp_376403644_150_150.jpg

For example, most woman experts on this network look like they are ready to go to a cocktail party instead of a business occasion.  Yes, the men are nicely and appropriately dressed but they don’t have to struggle as much as women do to appear appropriately presentable, youthful and beautiful.rp_374315433_150_150.jpg

When are the Little PEOPLE going to be represented?  The overall wearing, wearing second-hand clothing, or in “high style” Wal-Mart,  but often foreign made, clothing?  We have a lot to say and we don’t have a lot we can do about our situations but suffer.  Welfare often misses us and as our social security or retirement checks do not raise, but inflation and the cost of living does and as things cost more and more, we have to get by on less and less with little or no representation in or help from society or the government!empty pockets

The Little PEOPLE do have something to say!  We have learned something through experience.  We do have “philosophical” discussions.  We can see things others more fortunate and potentially more powerful don’t.rp_228552603_150_150.jpg

Certainly how Little PEOPLE experience life has something to say about the type of life we are promoting for all!  Often as people do better and better economically, they tend to put people down who haven’t and consider their opinions useless and their motivations feckless!  Also other people who have done well often think the same way and might make fun of those who don’t.  How many Little People do you see in certain churches or certain social groups like the Elks?  Nuff said.rp_AVaP8ps9-q4L3Kdb3ETm_150_150.jpg

When Is Being Disabled A Disability?

rp_300px-Handicapped_Accessible_sign.svg_.pngPeople often do not display common courtesy to the disabled.  They are often discourteous, inconsiderate, and just plain ignorant.  God, that does sound pretty inconsiderate, discourteous, and just plain stupid of me.

I have disabilities. caused by arthritis, a possible spinal cord injury, and inheritance.  I work hard at overcoming my disabilities especially when I or other people expect me to do things that are often awkward and unsafe for me to do.  For example, changing two litterboxes.  I have trouble maintaining my balance and walking especially in unfamiliar or crowded places.  Also, I can’t see behind me without turning my body around and I have trouble with dropping things.

Can you imagine what other people might think of me when they don’t know and/or acknowledge this?  I often take a back seat when other people are up moving around so as not to be knocked down.  I can’t carry a tray.  Can you imagine how this might effect me when there is a buffet?  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who spontaneously help me and that is a blessing.

I can do a lot of things on my own when there is no one to knock me down, butt in line, or otherwise take advantage of my disabilities?  Do they even know that they are taking advantage of my disabilities?  (Oh, in case you don’t know, I have had physical and occupational therapy; but some of the best therapy I have had is when I learned how to do something myself (and I could do a whole post on that).)

rp_308895522_e2ab0d2ebd_n.jpgI usually get myself to events and can go places while there if they are not too far away and there are no steps involved, but it does take me time.  This why I sometimes find it difficult to get to the bathroom and back during breaks and (get this) when I get to the bathroom someone is probably using the handicapped toilet stall that doesn’t need it i.e. to change clothes or to have a time-taking bowel movement or just because it is more convenient.

I guess some people are more considerate of others even when it is inconvenient than other people.  I have an aunt that had polio not only did she recover from that but later she went back to teaching with some accommodations.  (I was going to say several accommodations; but that that might make her mad if she knew I said that.)  I am much more understanding of her situation now than I was then.

It appears that some people don’t notice that some people have disabilities.  They often sometimes unconsciously or consciously take advantage of these people.  As a disabled person, I do often feel possibly unfairly limited by this.  I have a kitchen with an island in the middle which is convenient now for me, but I often have to wait for other people to go ahead of me when I or they think I would take too much time and bother.

If you see a disabled person sitting back and waiting for others to get finished doing something, it may not be because they want to, it may be because they feel that they have to.  Do you agree that people often do something around disabled people because they can, not because they ought to?

P.S.: I don’t feel disabled when I am in my recliner reading a book or watching TV.  It also does get me out of changing my grandkids’ diapers!rp_9429411558_188837b502_m.jpg