Wednesday, 6 February 2008

How I understand the mind


The photo above is not a Christmas tree with lights. No the coloured balls are brain cells or neurons. We've got about 10 billion of them. The fibres between these neurons are called dendrites. So how does a memory in the brain looks like. A memory is not stored in one cell.
No a memory is a pathway or pattern between many cells which can be spread all over the brain (75 % of the memory are however stored in the outer layer of the brain).

The pattern first gets created in our short time memory. This gets quickly lost. Therefore it has to be consolidated in long term memory. You do that to change the physical structure of the pattern. When we concentrate a electrical charge goes through the pattern. The easier it is to
activate the pattern the stronger the memory is. When an electrical signal arrives at a cell it has to pass a gap before entering the cell. Neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) pass the gap. These neurotransmitters stimulate the process to build a bigger entrance to the cell and make it easier to stimulate the next dendrite (fiber between cells).

To make a strong pathway you use repetition of information. Other tricks are to connect the new information to other strong pathways. For example to remember a name for example Quin Washington., you could relate the name quin to the word quintet (five) and think of the city Washington. Picture in your head 5 cities of Washington. Success guaranteed. So imagination and association is very important. When reading new information make a mind map of it. Tony Buzan developed them and they completely relate to how the brain stores a memory.

To create memories you also have to sleep good. During the dream time at night most of our memories get consolidated. Than we are relaxed and the brainwaves are exactly right. Relaxation is also key when taking in new information. Stop every 10 minutes when you learn and relax. When you have an exam week don't go on a strict diet. When you don't get enough nutrients or brain food memory suffers. Fruit and vegetables but also proteins in white meat and milk and fatty fish are for example good brain food.

When we get older our memory doesn't get worse. But if you don't use it you loose it. Same as with muscles. So exercise your brain. The only thing what happens when you are old is that the process to store and retain memory is slower. This is because the circulation of the blood is getting slower which brings oxygen to the brain. Oxygen is very important for good brain functioning. So if we know the right tricks we all can get smarter. Intelligence isn't fixed. So even when you are old you still can raise your IQ. Blogging is a good way for brain exercise I think.

What do you think?


  1. Some days back I had read about cellular memory.
    Check this out

  2. Oh that is completely new to me, Rambler; Memory stored in bodycells. Although for some sort of memory I could relate to that. Otherwise I have to see more research and more explanation. It feels strange to me

  3. Physicians have told me that the more neural pathways we establish (or strengthen), the less chance we have to develop Alzheimers (or dininish its effects). I try to memorize things frequently and find that when I do, I don't forget why I have just walked into the kitchen. Nice blog :)

  4. Welcome Billy and yes that's true same for dementia. That's a great idea, I must do that too.

  5. Very interesting post Marja, I learn so many interesting things from you!

  6. Sudoko, the math game is being touted as a wonderful exercise to keep the brain stretched.

    I wish I had studied neuropsychology when I was at university as a discipline because it is so fascinating. However, the strides this science has made with the help of computer technology since I was at school is amazing.....and has changed the whole field since then.

    Did you know that there are 7-10 spots in the brain that need to fire up at the same time to successfully read, comprehend and express language? Just one misfiring and a Learning disability occurs.

  7. Tried that but I hate numbers but I do believe that it is very good.

    I wanted to do an extra paper when I studied chidpsychology. I couldn't afford the time and the money however so I only bought the book Physiology of behaviour. Love to nose in it. Same with Mapping the mind...even better.

    Didn't know that one so that's were it went wrong. I've got dysnomia.

  8. Great information.

    Ik denk toch dat onze spieren niet zo sterk meer zijn als we ouder worden en ook indien we regelmatig aan sport doen.
    En met het verstand, ik denk toch dat ons geheugen erop achteruit gaat met ouder worden maar zoals u schrijft wij moeten het blijven gebruiken. (uitdrukking slijtage roest)

  9. Very interesting post ,Marja!And I agree with little wing´s comment.I can learn so much interestings things from you!

  10. I agree...this was a very informative piece, Marja, thank you for sharing.


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