Things that mess with your memory

Published On: Nov 13 2012 06:53:17 AM EST
Updated On: Nov 13 2012 07:00:00 AM EST

The sea slug it a simple, but memorable creature and it's helping researchers study how memory works.

"I've been working with these for about 30 years," said John "Jack" Byrne, Ph.D, neuroscientist at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

The sea slug learns to associate food with touch. So after being hand-fed, when anything hits its lips it will start to bite in response. The idea is to find out what genes and proteins are involved in the memory and learning processes.

"We can apply that knowledge to help individuals that have learning disabilities," said Byrne.

As the doctor tries to help our brains, you could be hurting yours. A UCLA study found sugar could decrease brain activity. Mice given sugar had a harder time getting through a maze than mice given sugar and omega-3s. Found in things like walnuts, salmon and soybeans, adding omega-3s to your diet could protect you from sugar's bad side effects.

Gum could be bad or good for your grey matter. A recent study out of Cardiff University says chewing it hurt people's short-term memory when they tried to recall lists of words and numbers. But other studies say it helps your brain. Including one that showed people who chewed gum outperformed non-chewers in memory exercises. Neurologist Paul Schulz says small silent strokes, that go unnoticed, can affect memory and attention span. He treated one woman who had hundreds.

"The majority of people I've seen who attention changes have related to strokes have no idea they've had a stroke," said Paul Schulz, M.D., UT Health Science Center at Houston.
 
A Harvard report says you could lower your risk of silent strokes, by controlling blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol, keeping a healthy weight, not smoking, and managing atrial fibrillation. Helping your brain from becoming sluggish.

Low-carb diets could also be draining your brain. In 2008, a small study found women who eliminated carbs from their diets had a decline in cognitive skills, especially on memory tests. Instead of wiping out carbs to lose weight, eat healthy carbs found in foods like fruits, grains and nuts.

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