Short of sleep? Your memory could be playing serious tricks on you.
Sitting in the office, sleep deprived, it’s difficult to remember your own name, let along the ever-lengthening to-do list. But now new research shows that not getting enough sleep increases the chances your mind will actually create false memories.
A new study on the brains of dancers may provide a breakthrough in the treatment of chronic dizziness.
The study examined how ballet dancers deal with dizziness, and it suggests their brains are different. Turns out, the dancers’ brains adapt over time to be resistant to dizziness. The cerebellum, a part of the brain important for processing signals related to dizziness, was found to be smaller among dancers when compared with non-dancers.
“It seems it is training related, rather than something that dancers are born with,” the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Barry Seemungal, a neurologist at Imperial College, told As It Happens co-host Carol Off from London, England.
- Dancers’ brains ‘adapt to spins’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Ballet dancers’ brains adapt to stop them getting in a spin (oddonion.com)
- Ballerina brain holds secret to balance (abc.net.au)
Clenching the fist temporarily changes brain function
Based on Helen Briggs’ post on BBC News, 24 April, 2013
Memory can be improved simply by clenching the fists, a study suggests.
Clenching the right hand for 90 seconds helps in memory formation, while the same movement in the left improves memory recall, say US psychologists. In an experiment, 50 adults performed better at remembering words from a long list when they carried out these movements.The researchers think clenching a fist activates specific brain regions that are associated with memory processing.
- 50 right-handed students were given a list of words to learn
- They were divided into five groups
- One group clenched their right fist for about 90 seconds before memorising the list and then did the same before recollecting the words
- A second group carried out the same test, but with the left hand
- Two other groups clenched one hand prior to learning the words (either the left or right hand) and the opposite hand prior to recollecting
- A control group did not clench their fists at all
- The group that clenched their right fist when memorising the list and then clenched the left when recollecting the words performed better than all the other hand clenching groups
- This group also did better than the group that did not clench their fists at all, though this difference was not statistically ‘significant’.
Lead scientist Ruth Propper, of Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, said the research suggests simple body movements can improve memory by temporarily changing the way the brain functions.”Clenching your right hand immediately prior to learning information and clenching your left hand immediately before recalling it would be helpful to improve memory,” Dr Propper told BBC News.
I was 19 when I first saw him — in a class taught by a famous neuropsychologist, Karl Pribram. I’d see Tom at the coffee house, the library, and around campus. He seemed perennially enthusiastic, and had an exaggerated way of moving that made him seem unusually focused. I found it uncomfortable to make eye contact with him, not because he seemed threatening, but because his gaze was so intense.
“Please forgive me for asking this, but I do this with everybody. Could you tell me your name again and how it is that I know you?”
Once Tom and I were sitting next to each other when Pribram told the class about a colleague of his who had just died a few days earlier. Pribram paused to look out over the classroom and told us that his colleague had been one of the greatest neuropsychologists of all time. Pribram then lowered his head and stared at the floor for such a long time I thought he might have discovered something there. Without lifting his head, he told us that his colleague had been a close friend, and had telephoned a month earlier to say he had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor growing in his temporal lobe. The doctors said that he would gradually lose his memory — not his ability to form new memories, but his ability to retrieve old ones … in short, to understand who he was.
Tom’s hand shot up. To my amazement, he suggested that Pribram was overstating the connection between temporal-lobe memory and overall identity. Temporal lobe or not, you still like the same things, Tom argued — your sensory systems aren’t affected. If you’re patient and kind, or a jerk, he said, such personality traits aren’t governed by the temporal lobes.