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Don't forget about it

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If you remember last week we touched on how January is Alzheimer’s month. Essentially we touched on the brain and memory. As a re-cap nothing we do is possible without our brain. Either our brain does it for us automatically or the memories stored in our brain help us accomplish tasks we’d wish to do.

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The brain itself is divided into 4 main regions: Cerebrum, cerebellum, limbic system and the brain stem.

The cerebrum is the large outer region of the brain that is divided into lobes. This is the part that when people say the word brain you are most likely to picture in your mind (all pink and wriggly). The lobes are associated with thought and action.

The cerebellum is much smaller than the cerebrum and is responsible movement, posture and balance.

The brain stem is the part of the brain that coordinates all the automatic responses of the body such as breathing, digestion and temperature.

The most important part of our discussion today is the limbic system. Nestled in the cerebrum the limbic system. Referred to as the “emotional brain” the limbic system is composed of many parts include the hippocampus which is often recognized as the main creation area of the brain for memory.

Memories are neural pathways that have been essentially grown in the brain. The more often you do a task the stronger the pathway becomes. Think of it this way. When you first started learning how to type you had to learn and remember where are the keys are on the keyboard.

Each time you practiced you became better.

Now you are a whiz, typing away with the ease of a court room reporter! Okay, perhaps not that fast and accurately, but you did become quicker and better.

Brains are awfully efficient machines. Not to make it sound like brains are “alive”, but, real estate is valuable in the brain. Pathways that aren’t used that vary often can be written over.

That is why there is that saying “use it or lose it”.

Memories for repeated tasks and memories or recollections of past events are somewhat different. Depending on which neurologist you speak to, whether an active patient seeing doctor or a strict researcher they do agree that memories you have of the past are not 100% accurate to what occurred. In fact, some researchers now say the more you access your past memories the more they alter from the original.

Recent evidence has shown that when effected by Alzheimer’s the hippocampus of the brain has shrunk or continues to shrink. This directly effects the ability to create new memories. With other diseases hippocampus shrinkage is also a large portion of the illness. In some cases the hippocampus can be returned to the original size. This is all fairly recent and can best be explained by a neurologist.

Remember what you learned here today and take it to heart that you now for at least point in time you have at your fingers all the tools you need to live your life to the fullest.

Take some time in your life to speak with your nutritionist and health care practitioner about lifestyle, nutritional demands and family history. Everyone’s health is unique, and many are here to help you.  

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