Brain and Memory

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  1. 1. MANAGER EXTRASeptember 2010Whats on yourmind?
  2. 2. Memory and Brain Health As our society ages, moreto plaque on teeth, plaqueand more Americans in the brain is a build-upface dreaded memoryof protein fragmentsproblems. Secondbetween nerve cells.guessing any forgetful Tangles (twisted fibersbehavior, weof another protein)sometimes kid that form inside dyingwe have Alzheimers brain cells. Though(or Old Timers)most people developdisease. Named forsome plaques andthe German doctor tangles as they age,who first diagnosedthose with Alzheimersit, Alzheimers is atend to develop farprogressive diseasemore. The plaquesthat destroys brain cells.and tangles usuallyAs a result, the patientform in a predictablesuffers memory loss and pattern, starting with areassevere thinking and behaviorimportant in learning andproblems. Over 5 millionmemory and spreading to otherAmericans live with this fatal regions.disease.Most experts believe that As the body ages, so does plaques and tangles somehowthe brain. We all typically Memory Quiz block communication amongIf you are evaluating someonesexperience a little slowedmemory problems, ask these questions: nerve cells and disrupt activitiesthinking or occasional memory Yes No Does your memory loss disrupt that cells need to survive.trouble. But serious memorydaily life?Studies show that people withYes No Does planning or solving loss, confusion and other majorproblems pose a challenge?Alzheimers also commonlychanges in the way our mindsYes No Do you find it difficult to have altered phospholipid levels.work are not normal. They maycomplete familiar tasks at Phospholipids are a majorbe a sign that brain cells are home?component of cell membranes,Yes No Are you easily confused with failing. regard to times or locations?and are essential to brain The brain has about 100 Yes No Do you have trouble health and function. It standsbillion nerve cells (neurons). understanding visual imagesto reason that supplementingEach cell communicates and spatial relationships? with phospholipidsincludingYes No Do you have new problems with many others to form with language in eithercholine and lecithinmay helpnetworks. Nerve cell networksspeaking or writing? counter this deficit.have special jobs. TheseYes No Are you unable to retrace Alzheimers disease has also your steps when you misplaceinclude thinking, learning,things?been associated with low levelsremembering, sensory tasksYes No Do you notice a decrease in of acetylcholine in the brain.(seeing, hearing and smell) andjudgment?The nutrient huperzine A hasdirecting muscle movement.Yes No Are you withdrawing from been demonstrated to effectively work or social activities? Abnormal structures calledYes No Have you observed changes inhibit acetylcholinesterase,plaques and tangles are likely in mood and personality? the enzyme that breaks downresponsible for damaging andYes answers to these questions mayacetylcholine.killing nerve cells. Similarsignify increasing dementia. Sources: www.alz.org, www.lef.org
  3. 3. When Life Gets Too BusyStress and Anxiety Stress and anxiety are part of life. In fact, a certain level of stress can be healthyit can motivate peopleand increase productivity. But too often, in todays hectic world of heavy schedules, multi-tasking andtechnology that makes us constantly available, too many people are feeling overstressed and overanxious.Stress Stress is subjective. What one person may find stressful, another may find exhilarating. But scientistsagree that too much stress leads to a host of problems. Physical effects of stress include head, neck orchest pain, hives, nausea and weight loss. Emotional effects such as depression, irritability, anger and guiltare common with stress. And there are social repercussions as well, such as feelings of isolation anddifficulty communicating and connecting with others.Anxiety Like stress, anxiety is part of life. We all worry to some degree about our relationships or our health. Butfeeling excessive anxiety and worry over everyday events may signal a problem with the way the nervoussystem is functioning. Symptoms of extreme anxiety (in addition to worry) include headaches, muscle tension,irritability, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping and fatigue. Furthermore, people with anxiety disorders,such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder or phobias, may need to pay special attention to theways they handle stress and anxiety.Common Treatments Tranquilizers, such as Valium or Xanax, andantidepressants like Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft arecommonly prescribed for anxiety. Antidepressants aremost often used when stress turns into depression.Recent studies have questioned the effectivenessof antidepressants, reporting that less than50% of people on antidepressants becomesymptom-free and that among those who do, theantidepressant becomes less effective with time.Side effects include sexual problems, insomnia,restlessness, dizziness and nausea. Tranquilizersmay have similar side effects.September 2010, Manager Extra 1
  4. 4. May I Have (and Keep) Your AttentionAll about ADDWhat Is ADD/ADHD? ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, is one of themost common mental disorders in children, with anestimated 3-5% of school age children affected byit. ADD is often accompanied by hyperactivity andimpulsive behavior (Attention Deficit HyperactivityDisorder, or ADHD). Symptoms of ADD/ADHDbecome more obvious in structured settings, suchas the classroom. Children with ADD/ADHD havecigarette smoke, alcohol or drugs, premature birth, ordifficulty regulating their attention, which may excessive lead exposure.make it difficult to sit still and wait their turn. They While scientists have not pinpointed the exact causemay interrupt frequently, or act on their impulses,or causes of ADD/ADHD, they have learned that iteven when inappropriate. Or, they may seem to be is not the result of laziness, lack of discipline, poordaydreaming or spacey. Without intervention, childrenparenting or too much television and video games,with ADD/ADHD may perform poorly in school, feel though TV and video games can make symptomssocially isolated and have low self-esteem.worse.What Causes ADD/ADHD?How Is ADD Treated? Researchers have not yet determined the exact Conventional treatment of ADD/ADHD includescause of ADD/ADHD. Because it tends to occur stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, Dexadrine,among families, it is believed to have a genetic Concerta and Adderall, which affect the regulation ofcomponent. In addition to identifying genes that may the neurotransmitters dopamine and norephinephrine.increase susceptibility to this disorder, researchersMedication is started with a low dosage and movedare focusing on links between ADD/ADHD and brain upwards as necessary in an attempt to minimizestructure and brain chemicals, primarily dopaminethe side effects, which include decreased appetite,and norepinephrineneurotransmitters that regulate difficulty sleeping, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness,attention and activity. In some cases ADD/ADHD isirritability, stomachache and headache. In addition,caused by brain injury or other impediments to healthy those with ADD/ADHD often see specialists to learnbrain development, such as prenatal exposure tobehavioral strategies and social skills training.2 Manager Extra, September 2010
  5. 5. T he human brain is the most powerful computer on earth. It operates by relaying electrical signals through a vast network of nerve cells (neurons). Signals travel across the space between neurons, or synapses. Special chemicals calledneurotransmitters help relay messages throughout the network. A variety of important hormones and other substances act as messengers intransferring these electrical signals. These specialized chemicals work in a delicatebalance. In general, they are rapidly destroyed by specific enzymes, diffuse away, orare reabsorbed. In some people, due to a number of factors, one or more key neurotransmitters maybe in short supply. Shortages can lead to a variety of health-related issues, includinglow mood, overeating, depression, low libido, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and more. Serotonin has received a lot of attention in the past few decades as millions ofAmericans battle depression and other mood-related health challenges. To have andmaintain a healthy mood, serotonin must be present in the brain and remain for acertain duration. In some people, serotonin is not present in sufficient quantity, or it isbroken down too quickly for good mood to be maintained. Modern medicine looks for ways to increase levels of neurotransmitters withpowerful and often costly prescription drugs. Prozac is a popular example. Withannual sales of over a billion dollars, Prozac is a member of a class of drugs calledselective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. It works to combat depression oranxiety by slowing the breakdown of serotonin in the brain. After a message is passed from one nerve cell to the next, the sender nerve cellquickly absorbs any serotonin that remains in the gap between cells. This is knownas reuptake. Normally, this process is smooth. But when serotonin levels becomeunbalanced, a variety of conditions may occur. Prozac helps block the reuptake ofserotonin so more of it remains in the spaces between the brains nerve cells. Thisgives the serotonin a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell. But Prozac and other prescribed medicines oftencome with a host of undesirable side effects. Manypeople have sought support for brain chemicalCommon Neurotransmitters and Their balance from plants and other natural products.Primary Responsibilities Certain foods and supplements can also help cetylcholineis involved in learning, memory,Awith neurotransmitter balance and may provide mood, heart rate and muscle movement.fewer deleterious side effects than prescription opamineis associated with pleasure andDdrugs. Some foods and nutrient

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