Working memory associated with higher endurance and better cognition

on 09 January 2018
It is the choices you make, that make the difference

Having worked what seems like two lifetimes, with the first one being very hard, both physically and mentally. I see a direct correlation in the research below and how life feels for me at the moment; which is rather nice . . . . . . . . But how is life right now?

 Pretty good in fact, I'm 68 and not on any medication, BP 114/73 resting pulse 55. How come? I believe it's because I made some very important lifestyle decisions years ago to change the direction of my life. And, God willing, I hope faith and good mind management  will help me keep it that way. So what were those decisions? Well I stopped smoking 40 years ago, quit drinking totally 19 years ago for about 5 years (long enough, I hope, for my liver to detox), nowadays I have 1 or 2 drinks a week. I also stopped eating meat 19 years ago too, although not for the normal reasons of most vegetarians.

Now, the purpose of this article is not so much about me bragging, it's to highlight that the earlier you make certain lifestyle choices, the better your chances are of being healthy in your old age. And while my working life is more sedentary nowadays I do plenty of walking (close to 10,000 steps a day), some regular exercise and I volunteer at Changi Airport, where I memorise many of the flight numbers and specific locations etc. I also build and manage my own websites. These are blessings that I enjoy, which, if the research below holds water, are because of the choices I made many years ago! And, assuming the researchers are correct, I will hopefully continue to enjoy good health, cognition and memory for many years to come. 

But I have to say that I really believe I had some help in the form of what I believe was spiritual guidance. Through my parents I learned, empirically, that being very overweight is not good for you (knowing this intellectually is not enough). My parents and grandmother all had type II diabetes. My father died at 64 after having had both legs amputated as well as from heart disease. My mother died from the effects of  diabetes, a stroke and dementia at 74. The stroke that was the pivotal turning point in her health occurred 10 years earlier and her life was never a life after that. For the last 9 or so months of her life she had no idea who I was, which was very distressing for me! These were powerful moments in my life and left a lasting impression of how much we owe it to ourselves to preserve our life, i.e. if we want to have qualitative quantity throughout all of it; but you have to act quickly.

I've heard people say, "enjoy life today, you might get hit by a truck tomorrow," which is true; but very unlikely. Today I see some of those people, they never got hit by that truck but from the way they walk, you'd definitely believe they had. For sure some people make all the right choices, live good clean lives and still get struck down. Others drink and smoke too much, eat unhealthy food and yet live to 90+. But they are the exceptions. It's how closely you follow the rules that will determine the quality of life for most of us; be smart!

So, for you smokers, drinkers and sofa lovers out there, take note. It's the decisions you make today, that ultimately determine the quality of life in your Golden Years. What a tragedy it would be, after having worked and saved for a lifetime, to get to that stage in life, where you can do what you want, when you want and find that nothing works. Your body needs all sorts of pills to make it work (kind of) properly, your energy sucks and your memory; well, you can forget that! 

So, if you're finding it way too hard to make these lifestyle changes; then why not try hypnosis? That's exactly how I did it all those years back (and why I am a Hypnotherapist today)! In the most simplest of terms, you either decide to let your mind rule you or you can learn to rule it, that's the power of hypnosis!  Want to find out more? Then why not book an appointment for a Free Consultation (face to face or via Skype) - right here

The Research:  Mount Sinai researchers have found a positive relationship between the brain network associated with working memory -- the ability to store and process information relevant to the task at hand -- and healthy traits such as higher physical endurance and better cognitive function.

These traits were associated with greater cohesiveness of the working memory brain network while traits indicating suboptimal cardiovascular and metabolic health, and suboptimal health habits including binge drinking and regular smoking, were associated with less cohesive working memory networks.

This is the first study to establish the link between working memory and physical health and lifestyle choices.

The results of the study will be published online in Molecular Psychiatry.

The research team took brain scans of 823 participants in the Human Connectome Project (HCP), a large brain imaging study funded by the National Institutes of Health, while they performed a task involving working memory, and extracted measures of brain activity and connectivity to create a brain map of working memory. The team then used a statistical method called sparse canonical correlation to discover the relationships between the working memory brain map and 116 measures of cognitive ability, physical and mental health, personality, and lifestyle choices. They found that cohesiveness in the working memory brain map was positively associated with higher physical endurance and better cognitive function. Physical traits such as high body mass index, and suboptimal lifestyle choices including binge alcohol drinking and regular smoking, had the opposite association.

"Working memory accounts for individual differences in personal, educational, and professional attainment," said Sophia Frangou, MD, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "Working memory is also one of the brain functions that is severely affected by physical and mental illnesses. Our study identified factors that can either support or undermine the working memory brain network. Our findings can empower people to make informed choices about how best to promote and preserve brain health."

Story Source:

Materials provided by The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of MedicineNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. D A Moser, G E Doucet, A Ing, D Dima, G Schumann, R M Bilder, S Frangou. An integrated brain–behavior model for working memoryMolecular Psychiatry, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/mp.2017.247