Imagine we gave you three letters, say G, C and D. Then we gave you a name to associate to some combination of those three letters. How many could you recall on command?

Guitarists in cover bands do that all of the time. They can play thousands of songs from memory, and it's not uncommon in most musicians. There have been numerous studies regarding music and memory and a peek inside the brains of professional musicians adds to that.

Neurons - cells in the brain that communicate chemical and electrical information - belong to one of two groups, inhibitory or excitatory. Much is known about excitatory neurons but not so much for inhibitory ones.

A new study finds that people of 1914 may have had worse memory than people of 1814. The reason is partially hydrogenated oil - trans fats - that became a cheaper, healthier replacement for the saturated fats in butter. Crystallized cottonseed oil - Crisco - came onto the marketplace in 1911 and it revolutionized pie crusts but now the government says they should be banned and they now have a new reason why.

A single gram of turmeric at breakfast could help improve the memory of people who are in the very early stages of diabetes and potentially at greater risk of cognitive impairment.

Turmeric is widely used in Asian cooking. Its characteristic yellow color is due to curcumin, which accounts for 3 to 6 per cent of turmeric and has been found in some studies to reduce the risk of dementia. The finding has particular significance given that the world's aging population and higher risk of dementia.

Monash University Professor Wahlqvist recently led a study in Taiwan that tested the working memory of men and women aged 60 or older who had recently been diagnosed with untreated pre-diabetes.

Some people have great memories - almost like they are looking at a photograph. What is the secret? Will it be possible to change the amount of information the brain can store?

Maybe. Researchers have identified a molecule that puts the brakes on brain processing. When the brake is removed, brain function and memory recall is improved.  


FXR1P: a controller of certain forms of memory

Here's a diet tip that is certain to work: Eat nothing and drink nothing except water from 6 PM until you wake up the next day. With no dieting at all, you are certain to lose weight unless you go out of your way to eat three Big Macs at dinner.

The reason is because your other organs and your brain start communicating - and many of them get a break from constantly processing food. 

Studies have found that mice who accumulated the most glycogen in the liver did not gain weight in spite of having access to an appetizing diet. In addition to observing that those animals ate less, researchers have found that the brains of the animals showed scarce appetite-stimulating molecules but rather many appetite-suppressing ones.

Frightening experiences stick with us but a new study finds that the bonding hormone oxytocin inhibits the fear center in the brain and allows fear stimuli to subside more easily. 

Brains on games.,  CC BY

By Mark Griffiths, Nottingham Trent University

Whether playing video games has negative effects is something that has been debated for 30 years, in much the same way that rock and roll, television, and even the novel faced much the same criticisms in their time.

Driving to work is routine, you might even forget you are doing it, but how aware would you be if you had to doit in reverse?

We're used to seeing objects pass behind us as we go forward. Moving backwards feels unnatural and a new study finds why that is: Moving forward actually trains the brain to perceive the world normally. The relationship between neurons in the eye and the brain is more complicated than previously thought--in fact, the order in which we see things could help the brain calibrate how we perceive time, as well as the objects around us.

Reversing the Map

As baby boomers, originally the children born in 1946, after soldiers returned home from World War II in 1945 but later extended out to be an entire generation, move into old age, the financial burden of Alzheimer's disease in the United States will skyrocket to $1.5 trillion from current  from $307 billion
estimates, according to health policy scholars at the USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2012, 43.1 million Americans were 65 and older, constituting 14 percent of the population. By 2050, that number will more than double to 83.7 million, constituting 21 percent of the population.