Archives for category: Memory

Your snout is able to determine over 10,000 different smells using about 500 nasal receptors.

However for some people, smell is but a memory.

They are unable to smell a whiff of anything and this total loss of smell is known as anosmia.

It currently affects around 5% of the US population, which means there are around 16 million people unable to smell leaking gas, smoke, or even worse, themselves (resulting often, undertandably, in some level of social anxiety).

As well as that, they sometimes can’t taste the flavours in food.

Your brain portion that controls smell is located at the base of your skull, so even mild head injuries to the back of the head can result in anosmia, however this is often temporary.

But for those whose smell never returns, hallucination of smells can form in their place where people think they smell coffee, smoke or other alarming substances even when there is none.

Hallucinated smells of a particularly vile smell kind are called cacosmia as described by Bonnie Blodgett in her book ‘Remembering Smell’ where she was plunged into a flurry of terrible smells from rotten eggs to chemicals, mould and sick.

On a more positive note, there have been recent studies to suggest that those who have a good sense of smell are more emotionally sensitive (thought to be because the two areas of the brain related to emotion and sense are in the limbic system), and science has taken steps closer to proving the simple truth that a memory can be triggered by a smell due to the proximity of the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for emotional memory) to the hypothalamus and olfactory tracts (nose!).

So if you can smell the roses, be thankful. Some people are getting noses full of nothing, or worse.

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1063&bih=580&tbm=isch&tbnid=Qf4Q1xQq7Ouo6M:&imgrefurl=http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-sense/201003/i-hit-my-head-and-i-cant-smell-thing&docid=SJ5eWnXwWl84aM&imgurl=http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/u610/olf.gif&w=338&h=300&ei=2LciUZa7Heqa1AXGooGABA&zoom=1&ved=1t:3588,r:88,s:0,i:351&iact=rc&dur=2350&sig=104541046096363718316&page=7&tbnh=182&tbnw=238&start=79&ndsp=15&tx=179&ty=69

Facts found in Oliver Sacks’ newest book ‘Hallucinations’.

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Does I.Q. matter when looking at the super-successful in our world?

The recent New York Times article on natural skill, or I.Q., and practice suggests that I.Q. is the determinate factor in success, not practice. i.e. it doesn’t matter how long you keep trying, you’re more unlikely to get there unless you have a high I.Q. to begin with.

The initial evidence from Florida State University found that excellent violin players, by age 20, had slogged at it for over 10,000 hours, compared with just under 8,000 hours for the “good” players and not even 5,000 hours for the least skilled.

However, the working memory capacity (that is, the capacity of your brain to work on various items simultaneously – think of it as a computer “desktop”), which is a key part of intellectual ability, made a statistically significant contribution, i.e. if you took two pianists with the same amount of practice, but different levels of working memory capacity, it’s likely that the one higher with working memory capacity would have performed considerably better.

Michigan State University researchers recently found that compared with participants in the 99.1 percentile for intellectual ability at age 12, those who were in the 99.9 percentile (the profoundly gifted) were between three and five times more likely to go on to earn a doctorate, secure a patent, publish an article in a scientific journal or publish a literary work.

Don’t stop tinkling the ivories though… it may not lead to super-stardom, but it will lead to a lot of fulfilment. 🙂

My boyfriend and I can sit here for hours… surfing, scrolling, tapping, searching… and suddenly it’s midnight.

I feel completely disorientated, drained, and utterly empty “upstairs”.

Why does my brain literally feel rubbery? Thoughts slide slowly around but not coherently… it’s like someone’s vacuumed my head empty. It’s black, it’s a void. It’s dead space.

This is the feeling of the “internet hole”.

What I would give for a nifty little self-reading EEG at these times. I just desperately want to prove what the I know electric impulses are doing: Nothing.

If you read the reports out of China this month, teenagers who surf the net for 13 hours a day have significantly reduced grey matter.

“Our study reflects the long-term Internet addiction can lead to deterioration in brain structure,” said the researchers.

The brain cortex functions to process memory, emotion, speech, sight and hearing as well as control the movement of people.

This is coupled with the Washington Post reports this month that search engines like Google are effectively changing our brain structures:

“We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found,” says Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow.

This is scary.

I’m logging off right now.

Right after I take this nifty little memory quiz

Like your body muscles, your brain needs to keep fit in order to function best. Not giving your brain enough stimulation definitely has its consequences, so the key to keep your grey matter from going mushy is: move it or lose it.

The reason is that the brain is highly flexible – known as ‘neuroplasticity’ – and the pathways your neurons create when you learn something new are ever-changing. However, easily as they can be created, they can also be lost.

But never fear! The parts of your brain associated with memory and information processing are highly adaptable and with some practice, you can train your brain to pick up where you let it drop off.

So, got a spare minute? Get your matter moving with some brain teasers that will keep those neurons firing.

Good brain puzzles:

  • The New York Times crossword – subscribe for $1 to the infamous New York Times crossword and join the global millions to attempt this everyday. For a reward once you’re done, treat yourself to watching Patrick Creadon’s excellent documentary ‘Wordplay‘ which looks at die-hard NYT crossword fans, among them Bill Clinton.
  • Word and number puzzles
  • Soduku
  • Trivia – go to a night at your local pub or find trivia quizzes online at braingle.com
  • Try a jigsaw puzzle! Yes, remember those?

Or, if you’re on-the-go head to the apple store for a list of brain puzzles to enjoy.

Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, having good relationships, and managing stress levels all affect the functional capabilities of our brains. For other tips on keeping your brain and memory sharp go to helpguide.org.

The fusiform face area (FFA) is a part of the human visual system which might be specialized for facial recognition, although there is some evidence that it also processes categorical information about other objects, particularly familiar ones.

Good news! That horrible feeling when you cannot, for the life of you, recognise that person enthusiastically greeting you like a long-lost friend, actually has a name – Prosopagnosia – or face-blindness. More than that, it’s a fairly common thing.

Up to 2% of the US population – that’s 6 million people – can’t quite recognise their husbands, children, wives, teachers and colleagues, but this strange impediment isn’t even a household name.

Recognition depends on knowledge; familiarity  is based on feeling, and thus has an entirely different neural base including the amygdala and hippocampi which store memory and emotion.

Prosopagnosia comes in the form of the “hyper-familiar”  – people who greet strangers at the bus stop enthusiastically feeling them know them, while also realising they don’t quite know where they know them from, if they know them at all.

The opposite is type Capgras syndrom, definitely the sadder of the two, where someone recognises a face but has no emotional memory of them – thus the Capgras patient will argue that the person (eg their daughter or son) cannot be the real thing – they must be imposters or counterfeits.

According to case studies, Prosopagnosia seems hereditary.

But with practice, the brain can be trained to remember people’s faces highlighting the plasticity of neural circuits adapting to create new memories… so there is hope for all those yet who can’t remember people’s faces!

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