Small Lifestyle Changes Impact Memory Performance

Puzzling a way out of mental decline
© Hemera

The study was conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and was the first to test the impact of combining memory exercises and stress reduction with a healthy diet and exercise to improve memory. In the 14-day study, subjects with normal baseline memory performance scores were randomly assigned to two groups.

In the test group, brainteasers, crossword puzzles and memory exercises, which emphasised verbal skills, were conducted throughout the day to stimulate the brain. Participants ate five meals daily, which included a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fats, low-glycemic index carbohydrates and antioxidants. Brisk daily walks and stretching were done daily to promote physical fitness. In addition, the participants used stretching and relaxation exercises to manage stress.

After the 14-day study, participants following the memory improvement plan recorded a 5% decrease in brain metabolism in the dorsal lateral prefrontal region of the brain, which is directly linked to working memory and other cognitive functions, suggesting that they were using their brain more efficiently. Furthermore, these subjects reported improved memory, and demonstrated better performance on a cognitive measure controlled by this same brain region.

"Most people do not realise that they are in control of their memory as they get older," declared lead investigator Gary Small, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA., "But this research demonstrates that it is possible, in just 14 days, to make simple lifestyle changes that will not only improve memory and brain function, but also will improve overall health and wellness."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)