Thursday, 3 April 2014

stuck in the rut

     As I already told in my speech during the first term, my mother suffered from Alzheimer for many years.  By the time she died, nearly four years ago, she had been 13 long years diagnosed with this disease. Quite honestly, some of her behaviours used to be more than I could bear, partly due to my anxiety but mainly because I couldn’t understand what was happening in her brain.
     That’s why the video on Neuroplasticity really appealed to me. Alzheimer’s patients’ direct relatives usually live under Damocle’s sword. We are still waiting for a pharmaceutical cure or for a magic pill to prevent this awful process of human deterioration that your loved experienced. It is clear  that you may be able to slow down this process by leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, or even reverse it. The pill? I hope for the best. Anyway, in the meanwhile I’m trying  to put knowledge to practical use. While some factors, such as genes, are out of my control, there are others however which are highly recommended by neurologists. These are, among many others, mental stimulation, stress management, learning something new and practising memorization. All in all, don’t take the C1 as a joke, you are being  constantly training your brains. One of the activities that specialists suggest is learning a foreign language. Also teaching information to others enables to get into our memory and remain there, since we have to be able to understand it and then express it well to someone else.
     I’m curious by nature, thus when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer I started to read everything that I could find about the disease. Sometimes I saw my mother’s behaviours reflected in many examples of other patients, yet there were always others different. I’ll capture a shocking situation to illustrate this. In a middle stage of her illness my mother used to sing my daughters nursery rhymes that they couldn’t understand. Of course they couldn’t, she was singing French songs! When she was a little girl she had attended a school run by French nuns and she used to sing these rhymes. Curious, isn’t it?
     Long term memory is a function of our brain where we remember something longer than a day or two, and often for many decades. Unlike short-term memories, they are relatively permanent. Our earliest memories often go back to the age of four or five, if they were significant in some way. This function takes part of “Procedural memory”, known as non-declarative. You know how to do something, including the specific steps required to accomplish a task. For example, you just know how to ride a bike.

     This is what Norman Doidge calls “plastic paradox” Our brain is pliable, it has ruts in which we are sometimes struck.

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