Brain health refers to the well-being of the brain that is supported by healthy lifestyles, such as healthy nutrition, exercise, drug freedom and suitable challenges for the brain, but also by ensuring that you get enough rest and avoid stress. Environmental factors continuously affect brain function, and brain adaptation is also a lifelong process.
Brain health through lifestyle
By influencing living habits, one can reduce the risk of a memory disorder and postpone the onset of disease symptoms by up to 3–5 years.
There is good knowledge about many factors that in particular protect against the onset of Alzheimer's disease and blood vessel-related memory disorders, as well as about factors that increase the risk of this. These factors can even be of great importance: for example, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure double the risk, if you suffer from only one of these problems, but for those who suffer from all three, the risk is six times higher compared to a person who do not have any of these problems.
In addition to factors related to living habits, there are known risk factors that cannot be influenced. Of these, age is the most significant. Genetic factors also affect the development of a memory disorder and the age at which it breaks out. Instead of pondering the risks, it still pays to invest in lifestyles that are healthy for the brain and that can provide protection, especially for those who genetically belong to the group where the risk of falling ill is greatest. Eliminating even a single risk factor reduces the strain on the brain!
The brain needs nourishment and oxygen regularly and without interruption in order to function. The brain is the body's most sensitive organ, and although many functions and structures have been developed in the body to secure the supply of nutrients to the brain, these natural methods of protection are limited.
The brain must therefore be actively protected against factors that pose a threat to its health and well-being. It is especially important to protect the brain because the nerve cells are not renewed in the same way as the other cells in the body. Brain damage related to living habits generally appears in the most refining processing of information where interaction between different parts of the brain is required.
The memory function
Memory is a series of events where you are drawn to remember what you have learned and things that you have experienced before and learn something new.
The most common way to illustrate the structure of memory and understand its function is to distinguish between the momentary sensory memory, the short-term working memory and the long-term long-term memory.
Through the senses, the sensory memory transmits information to the brain. This can be further divided into the icon, echo and touch memory according to which sensations are conveyed to which of the brain.
Through working memory, things are kept in mind for only a few seconds. The working memory works when, for example, a telephone number is retrieved from the telephone directory and kept in mind until you have dialed the number.
Long-term memory is an endless storehouse. The long-term memory function can be explained by the three-part division into storage in memory, storage in memory and recall from memory.
Forgetfulness is normal. Everyone forgets something all the time. However, learned skills and the most important memories are not erased in general.
Causes and theories of forgetfulness
When it comes to everyday forgetfulness, it is often a question of difficulties with the ability to concentrate, and not so much of a memory defect. In the memory function, it is also important to focus attention.
Many theories of oblivion are known. None of these apply in all situations, but they can be helpful in understanding the intricate function of memory and forgetfulness.
The weakening theory
The memory material fades because it is not used and therefore is not amplified.
What is in the memory is probably not completely erased. However, the right stimulus, such as a scent related to a theme, a photograph or a person, can lead to an old memory being brought to life.
Disturbance or interference theory
Forgetfulness is due to other information relating to it in some memory material. This can happen, for example, when a telephone number that you have just memorized is forgotten when the doorbell rings before you have time to dial the number.
The displacement theory
Boring and unpleasant things are more easily forgotten than pleasant ones. The displacement theory could explain, for example, why some people do not remember wartime or a difficult childhood.
The effect of age on memory
Aging does not lead to the loss of memory or the disappearance of learned things.
An older person's brain weighs only insignificantly (about 8 percent) less than a young person's brain. The weight decreases due to nerve cells disappearing. Nevertheless, the connections between the cells can increase, which makes the brain functional and wise.
The effects of aging on memory function are most evident in the area of working memory and event memory. Event memory weakens as early as younger adulthood, but time-limited and quantitatively limited working memory becomes much slower due to age. The effect of age is especially evident in situations that require quick reactions and that you put things in mind.
It often takes more concentration and more repetition for older people than for younger people to learn new things. When it comes to learning something new, on the other hand, you connect things with information that is already in the brain while using experience that you have already gathered over the years. Therefore, older people can shape complex wholes better than young people.
Aging affects memory function, but there are large individual differences. In some people you can notice changes even before old age and in others who have reached a much older age, it can be difficult to notice any changes at all. It pays to activate the brain and maintain its vitality regardless of age and changing life situations.