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Has Your Brain Already Crystallized?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

As it turns out, keeping pace in ever-more-electronic world is no small feat for the aging brain. That's because our mental circuitry – the most frequently used neuron pathways, like well-traveled roads – tends to crystallize into a series of expressways over time. But that doesn't mean paving new paths (by, say, learning in middle age) is a lost cause – it just demands special learning techniques and a little more patience.

That's heartening news for adults who are headed back to school, shifting careers in later life, or simply want to be lifelong learners, says neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Mapstone. In the clip below, he sheds more light on our amazing (and aging) brains.

Stop Stroke Before it Stops You - 4 Things You Should Know

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ask any number of men what they think their odds of having a stroke are, and you might find many of them believe stroke is frighteningly unpredictable and can attack like a bolt from the blue – without warning, trailing death and disability in its wake.

That idea is dangerously wrong. The truth is that a stroke is the bullet at the end of a very long barrel and there is a lot you can do to dodge it.

The path to stroke can be started by heart disease – especially if you have an irregular heartbeat. It also can be started by arterial disease – especially if there is a build-up of plaque in the arteries of the neck. The chain of events that begins with cardiovascular disease and ends in stroke can take years, or even decades to evolve. You probably will not know that it is happening.

Need More Memory (No, We’re Not Talking RAM)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Searching frantically for misplaced car keys. Fumbling for the name of a new acquaintance. Providing an accurate eye-witness testimony. Treasuring past moments with a loved one lost. What, exactly, is this thing we call “memory”? How do our brains manage to process, store and recall so much sensory footage – even lifeless data, like phone numbers – almost reflexively?

Neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Mapstone co-directs URMC's memory care clinic, which features a team of neurologists, psychiatrists, a geriatrician, a neuropsychologist, a psychometrician (expert in measuring psychological function), a social worker and a nurse practitioner. He weighs in on these and other burning questions in the clip below.

Is the Internet Replacing Your Memory?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Google, Facebook, Internet Movie Database, and many other sources of information on the Internet are changing the way in which we remember. As a result of this instant access, growing numbers of us may actually be outsourcing our memories. It's called the Google effect and it is documented online in the journal Science.

Google is just another form of external memory, says Betsy Sparrow, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychology at Columbia University in New York City. Neuropsychologist Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., isn't sure the Google effect is such a good thing for our memories. This is not as good for us from a brain perspective, he says. If you download your information to a device, you are not using your brain to make connections as you should be. That said, When you don't burden your memory with rote remembering, it does free up activity for more complex thinking, he says.

Read More: Is the Internet Replacing Your Memory?