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“Health – what my friends are always drinking to before they fall down”

  ~Phyllis Diller

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More Earworms

A week ago, I hadn’t come across Earworms and now I am present to mine!
How about BTO “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”?

How are your earworms?

Searching for earworms on Twitter reveals people have all kinds of songs stuck in their heads. From The Muppets theme tune, The Sound of Music tracks, to Richard Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony.

This articles is from http://www.spring.org.uk/2010/05/how-to-kill-an-earworm.php

Earworms: Can They Be Killed?

fingers in 
ears

According to new research, around 9 out of 10 of us have experienced earworms lasting an hour or longer.

An earworm is a song going around in your head that you can’t get rid of. Some claim that earworms are like a cognitive itch, we scratch them by repeating the tune over and over in our heads.

In new research, Beaman & Williams (2010) asked 103 participants aged 15-57 all about their earworm experiences. Here’s what they found:

  • Many earworms were pop songs, although adverts and TV/film themes and video game tunes were also mentioned.
  • One-third generally experienced the chorus or refrain over and over again, but almost half said that it varied.
  • 10% of participants reported that earworms stopped them doing other things.
  • Contrary to popular belief those with musical training were no more likely to experience earworms.

Searching for earworms on Twitter reveals people have all kinds of songs stuck in their heads. From The Muppets theme tune, The Sound of Music tracks, to Richard Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony.

Similarly this study revealed relatively little overlap between the songs going around in people’s heads. This suggests that it’s more the song’s interaction with people rather than the song alone that creates the cognitive itch.

Not everyone was equally undisturbed by earworms though:

"Those who found the earworms most problematic were respondents who considered music particularly important. These participants also reported experiencing earworm episodes of longer duration and harder to control than participants for whom music was of less importance."

How to kill an earworm

Participants reported using all sorts of techniques for trying to get rid of earworms like listening to other songs and doing some work (two even reported drinking alcohol) but generally fighting the earworm just made it stronger. The reason for this is that, as psychologists have found, thought suppression can be counter-productive.

For most of us earworms are relatively untroubling. And if you are tempted to moan then just be thankful you’re not the 21-year-old described in a case report by Praharaj et al. (2009). This man had had music from Hindi films going around in his head against his will for between 2 and 45 minutes at a time, up to 35 times a day, for five years. Unfortunately even powerful drugs couldn’t stop the music.

So I don’t want to hear any complaints about "We Will Rock You" or "Whomp – There It Is".

Image credit: Cayusa

Get That Song Out My Head! University Of Montreal Study On Those Pesky Earworms

I have certain tunes and songs that I play in my head in specific situations. For example Average White Band: “Pick up the pieces” when I  queue up
http://www.last.fm/music/Average+White+Band/_/Pick+Up+The+Pieces 
 

What are your Earworms?

 

The following article can be found at http://mnt.to/f/3DbS

 

Some 98 to 99 percent of the population has, at some point, been "infected" with a song they just can’t seem to shake off. This common phenomenon has rarely been researched, until Andréane McNally-Gagnon, a PhD student at the University of Montreal Department of Psychology, decided to examine the issue in an ongoing investigation.
In most cases, earworms will disappear after a few minutes. In some cases, earworms can last hours or even days. McNally-Gagnon is also a musician, who is often infected, which is why she wanted to better understand how and why it occurs.
For starters, she asked French-speaking Internet users to rank 100 pop songs according to their ability to be compulsively repeated within one’s mind. The top five were: Singing in the Rain (Gene Kelly), Live Is Life (Opus), Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin), I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) and, in first place, Ça fait rire les oiseaux by Caribbean sensation La Compagnie Créole. (A complete list is published at http://www.brams.org).
In the laboratory, McNally-Gagnon and her thesis director Sylvie Hébert, professor at the University of Montreal School of Speech Therapy and Audiology and a member of the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), asked 18 musicians and 18 non-musicians to hum and record their obsessive songs and note their emotional state before and after. The researchers found earworm infections last longer with musicians than with non-musicians.
The phenomenon occurs when subjects are usually in a positive emotional state and keeping busy with non-intellectual activities such as walking, which requires little concentration. "Perhaps the phenomenon occurs to prevent brooding or to change moods," says Hébert.
The study also revealed that auditive memory in people is can accurately replicate songs. Humming among musicians was only one key off original recordings, while non-musicians were off by two keys.
McNally-Gagnon and Hébert now plan to study earworms using MRI or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation technology. "The only such studies that have been conducted were on test subjects who mentally imagined a song," says Hébert. "We believe the neurological process is different with earworms, because the phenomenon is involuntary."
Source:
Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins
University of Montreal

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Drinking coffee could help to prevent the neural degeneration

As a man who likes to visit Starbucks after I drop my daughter off at college and also as a man with a Bus Pass, this article is very interesting.
Now who’s round is it?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20100526/sc_livescience/caffeinemaycounteractcognitivedecline

Drinking coffee could help to prevent the neural degeneration associated with brain disorders and aging, scientists say.

A new gamut of research is making the case that caffeine, a drug known for its short-term boost to mental functioning, could have therapeutic value for the preventative care of illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Regular consumption of caffeine over the long-term has been linked to lower incidences of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease in humans and lesser memory dysfunction and neurodegeration in animals, write neuroscientists Alexandre de Mendonça of the University of Lisbon and Rodrigo A. Cunha of the University of Coimbra, both in Portugal, in this month’s issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Research.

The beneficial effects only appeared when caffeine was consumed in moderate amounts (the equivalent of up to 4 cups of coffee a day for humans) regularly over a long period of time, Cunha told Livescience.

Rather than improve memory, "caffeine prevents any deterioration of memory caused by insults you might be prone to," Cunha said.

Even so, the researchers warn against downing coffee to keep the brain in tip-top shape.

"We are all desperate for a cure, but I would be very cautious about gobbling down 8 cups of coffee to prevent Alzheimer’s disease," said Marsel Mesulam, director of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University. "It’s interesting scientifically and chemically, but it’s not a call to action yet."

More than 20 international studies on the link between caffeine and neurodegenerative disorders are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Research, which devoted an entire issue to the subject.

Caffeine blocks insults

In one study, the "insult" was cholesterol, which causes neurons to thicken and become less plastic, Cunha said. Explaining research by Jonathan Geiger of the University of North Dakota, he said that while rabbits that regularly consumed cholesterol over several months eventually had problems with walking and memory tests, those that also regularly ingested caffeine did not.

In other studies, the "insult" was the actual inception of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, both diseases that affect the neural functioning of the brain and for which few treatments exist.

Scientists found that caffeine inhibits the expression of brain cells that are damaged by Parkinson’s disease, thus indirectly reducing the loss of motor control seen in the early stages of the illness. In another study, researchers found what they called "surprising" evidence that caffeine both reversed and protected against memory loss in mice that were affected by Alzheimer’s.

"We are not aware of any AD drug under development by the pharmaceutical industry that has caffeine’s profound ability to reduce Aβ− producing enzymes," wrote Florida-based researchers Gary W. Arendash and Chuanhai Cao in the research paper that communicated the findings. Otherwise known as abeta or amyloid-beta, Aβ are complex proteins whose build-up in the brain is believed by many to be responsible for Alzheimer’s.

Similarly, there is evidence that "caffeine is the first compound to restore both motor and non-motor early symptoms of [Parkinson’s disease]," Rui D.S. Prediger of the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina wrote in an article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Research.

Mechanism is a Mystery

Exactly how caffeine recovers losses to the brain’s health, rather than simply boosting wakefulness, is still an open question.

One idea is that caffeine helps stabilize the blood-brain barrier, an assembly of cells that keeps molecules in the blood from entering brain tissues. According to Cunha, the study on rabbits showed that caffeine maintained the "immune privilege" of the brain by recovering the functioning of this barrier and its ability to protect the brain from harmful levels of chemicals.

Another idea promoted for why caffeine can aid against memory decline is that it increases levels of dopamine, a chemical that relays signals between neurons. But pleasure also stimulates this chemical, Cunha said. "And people normally like taking coffee."

Because research has been limited to clinical studies on animals, and retrospective studies of the prevalence of illness in humans, researchers can only see correlation, not causality, Cunha said. "We still cannot make a strong statement in terms of the mechanisms by which caffeine affords this protective effect."

"The ultimate result would be to take people with Alzheimer’s and give them coffee and others with a placebo and to show that coffee makes a difference. I don’t think that’s been shown," said Mesulam said.

According to Cunha, clinical trials on humans have awaited proof that long-term consumption of moderate amounts of caffeine poses no harm. They are also "extremely expensive," requiring a large population of people, 10 to 20 years of monitoring, and very careful planning in order to be considered, he said.

Since some animals, such as rats, have shorter life cycles, everything progresses faster, meaning a long-term study could finish up in months. The same study would take many years in humans.

"An exciting period of clinical research with caffeine and coffee against [Alzheimer’s disease] is on the horizon. This research may finally show that a safe and readily available natural agent -caffeine -provides the first effective therapeutic against AD," Arendash and Cao wrote in the journal.

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Improve Memory through the “Context Effect”

Recently I read this article from Ryan Levesque’s site at http://www.totalmemoryimprovement.com/

and I REMEMBERED an event in my life from the age of 5!

  • Where I was
  • What I was doing and
  • What was said to me

Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic representations of what happened

 

Here is Ryan’s article.  Look him up

http://www.totalmemoryimprovement.com/

When we attempt to learn or memorize new information — anything from a person’s name to historical dates — and try to encode that new information into our brain, most of us focus 100% of our mental energy on the “what” part of that information.

That is, we focus on trying to encode WHAT that person’s name is, or WHAT the day, month, and year of that particular historical date is.

Which makes sense, right?

But one thing most people ignore — or don’t pay full attention to — is the “where” component associated with each new piece of information we learn.

That is, WHERE we are — our physical environment — when we attempt to learn or memorize that new information.

If you’re looking to improve your memory, a simple way to get a nice little bump in your recall ability, is to pay CONSCIOUS ATTENTION to your surroundings and environment — the “where” component — whenever you learn new information.

And here’s why:

The reason this is worth taking the time and effort to do is because of something known as the “context effect.”

Numerous studies have demonstrated the power of the “context effect” — which is essentially the fact that if you learn something in one context, then you can later recall that information better in that same context, rather than in a new or different context.

One famous study from the 1980s illustrated an extreme example of the context effect by putting test subjects underwater in a scuba diving suit and teaching them new information.

Later, subjects were tested on their ability to recall the new information they’d learned — both above and under water. And they performed remarkably better when asked to recall the information while underwater — the same environment in which they originally learned that information.

Many similar studies have replicated the same results.

Okay, so what’s the practical application of this, and how can you use it to improve your memory in everyday situations?

First, it helps to understand quickly WHY exactly the “context effect” is so effective:

Essentially, when you pay attention to the context in which you learn something while you learn it — that context in turn becomes a cue or “memory landmark” associated with that newly learned material.

And in the same way that you might use a physical landmark to help you navigate around an unfamiliar city, you can use a memory landmark to help recall information.

You can also take this strategy a step further by not only associating a new piece of information with your general surroundings while you learn that information (e.g. when learning someone’s name at business conference), but also associating that new piece of information with a very specific, concrete element within your environment (e.g. associating that person’s name with the coffee machine you were standing next to while being introduced to that person.)

When it comes time to recall that person’s name down the road, you may recall that you met that person at the business conference… and were introduced next to the coffee machine. Those additional cues can be extremely powerful in helping to recall that person’s name.

The “context effect” has other practical implications as well.

For example, if you’re studying for an exam or preparing to deliver a performance or speech — you can improve your recall by studying or rehearsing in the same location in which you’ll be taking the test or giving the final performance.

By doing so, you’ll have the same visual, environmental cues around you when it comes time take your exam or deliver your performance as when you were studying or rehearsing the information — SO you can use these visual, environmental cues to help “jog your memory” if you have difficulty recalling information during your exam or performance.

Research has also found that the “context effect” can help with memory in other ways as well. For example, studies have shown that learning multiple word lists in several different rooms produce better recall than when learning all the word lists in one single room.

Why exactly?

Well it’s thought that by studying in different rooms, you create greater variability in context — and therefore have a wider variety of visual cues at your disposal with which to associate different pieces of learned information.

So an approach you might take if you’re preparing for an exam is to divide your test matter into different themes or subjects — and study each of those subjects in a different room or location (and consciously pay attention to your environment while studying).

So for example, when it comes time to recall information for your physics test, you might remember that you were studying Newton’s Laws while standing in the kitchen, and the formula for deriving force, velocity, and mass while lying on the floor in your bedroom.

By taking this approach, you’ll have a different set of environmental cues available to associate with each topic or sub-topic when it comes time to recall on your test.

It really doesn’t take much effort or work to incorporate the “context effect” into your study routines or as you attempt to memorize new information in everyday situations. But if you’re interested in improving your memory, the payoff of this simple strategy can be tremendous! 🙂

To learn practical ways you can improve your memory today, sign up to receive the Free Memory Improvement Quick Start Guide.

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