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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Getting Your Brain (and Memorization Skills) in Gear


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Medical crises challenge our already stressed-out brain cells. They're struggling to remember hard-to-pronounce words, changing plans, how to deal with upsetting news and the reactions of loved ones and, well, you name it!

I've offered advice in my book and on this blog about how to cope with the rush of details and unwanted news. Today I'll let you in on a newly understood mystery of the brain: it stores different kinds of memory in vastly different areas. Ahhh, that's why we find it challenging to remember lots and lots of details! We need to look in the right storage area!

Johns Hopkins researcher Susan Courtney, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, learned that the RULES which people must actively remember - stuff that's NOT part of our everyday habits - are controlled primarily through the prefrontal cortex, which is in the very front of the brain, beneath the forehead.

A different part of the brain - the parietal cortex, which is near the back of the head - becomes more active when people need to memorize FACTS (including rapidly changing facts).

"This discovery may eventually lead to enhanced understanding of... conditions in which a person's ability to remember and change such rules is impaired," said Courtney, lead author of a paper in a recent issue of Neuron. "... different parts of our brains store different kinds of memories and information." That, she said, "provides clues about how the human brain accomplishes complex, goal-directed behaviors that require remembering and changing abstract rules, an ability that is disrupted in many mental illnesses."

Caroline Montojo, a graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, co-authored this study. Learn more about it when you

Don't whirl around in circles seeking the part of your brain that stored some fact or other. Read my book to learn coping strategies for keeping your medical and other details straight.

Get it FASTER when you
order from my publisher ;^ )

To your good health and memory,

Yojeved Golani
Coping with a Medical Crisis?
Make the Changes You Need in Your Life.

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