Improving Memory Using tDCS

Can tDCS Improve Memory?

 

  1. What Is tDCS

Let me start with a bit about tDCS before I go into the Omni Stimulator kit & what it did for me. The functioning of the entire nervous system and the brain itself is based on the ability of the nerve cells to produce, propagate, and transmit the electrical current of a very small voltage. You can consider the nervous system as a highly integrated net of fibers communicating with each other and building new connections constantly, from the embryonic period until death. There is no pause for your brain, even when you sleep!

Giving that even during ancient times the philosophers were aware of the electrical nature of the brain functioning, there were many attempts to apply electrical current to the brain in order to achieve improvement in mental illnesses, headaches, memory, etc. In ancient Rome, a physician Scribonius Largus suggested placing a live torpedo fish on top of the head in order to eliminate headache. Later on, some scientists have tried using catfish to cure epilepsy. During the past century, the growing knowledge about the brain physiology on one side and about electromagnetism on the other side, contributed to the development of many techniques for delivering the electrical current to the brain in order to treat different disorders.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a modern, and so far the most sophisticated version of brain stimulation. It has been designed to deliver precisely controlled electrical current of a very small voltage to the specific regions of the brain. The current is delivered by placing electrodes on the surface of the scalp, so it is a completely safe and non-invasive method. The areas for tDCS and the voltages are precisely defined and adjusted for the specific purposes. Transcranial DCS can help you improve memory, boost learning abilities, and it can also be used in the treatment of various mental and neurological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The Omni Stimulator is currently one of the best and most affordable choices on the market.

  1. How Can A tDCS Kit Help You Improve Memory

Various studies have confirmed that tDCS can improve memory and cognition, both in healthy individuals and in persons with neurodegenerative disorders. Furthermore, by changing the way you use tDCS, you can improve different types of memory. For example, anodal stimulation of the prefrontal cortex (the most frontal part of the brain) results in working memory improvement. On the other hand, the stimulation of the same part of the brain during the night sleep improves declarative memory. The declarative memory is a type of long-term memory that includes the facts and events which you can consciously recall (declare). Furthermore, tDCS has been shown to improve selective attention. It increases the focus on the subject you want to focus on without splitting your attention. That is very important for creating long-term memory records in your brain and converting short-term into the long-term memory. In one of the studies, healthy participants were subjected to prefrontal anodal stimulation with tDCS, and besides improving their memory and cognition, it also lowered their reaction time – the time needed to recall and reproduce the learned content. The same study investigated the effects of tDCS on memory improvement in patients with cognitive impairment, and the results were astonishing. Although the mechanism by which this brain stimulation causes memory improvement is not yet fully investigated, there is a growing pool of evidence of its efficiency.

  1. How You Use It

As mentioned before, the Omni Stimulator is one of the best choices among tDCS devices on the market, due to its precise calibration, high quality features, and low cost. Another very important thing is ease of use. Namely, in comparison to other devices, the “Omni” has simplified the adjustment and use of the device to the degree that anyone can understand it effortlessly. The Omni stimulator consists of the voltage regulation device, which is adjusted with great precision, a pair of special cables, two sponge electrodes, and a headband to keep the sponge electrodes in the right place. That is all you need!

The placement is very easy. For memory and cognition enhancement, you want to apply the electrodes to the areas of the scalp according to the manual you will get with the device. Soak the sponges first with the saline solution and attach the cable clips to the sponges. After placing the sponges on the scalp, fixate them with the headband and adjust the device according to the information from the manual. The recommended duration of stimulation is also specified in the manual, and it is in accordance with the recommendations derived from large scientific studies. In most cases the range is between 10 and 40 minutes, depending on the indications for use.

  1. Some Other People’s Results and Information

An increasing number of individuals have placed very good reviews on the efficacy of the Omni device. Besides on the company’s website, there are comments on various health forums. If you want more scientific information about the Omni device and tDCS in general, gathered from experiences of several hundreds of users, you can check the references below.

Benefits that others reported were improved cognition, better memory, greater ability to gather the higher amount of information, and they have noticed the ability to handle multiple tasks much easier than before. During the first few weeks of use, the effects were short-term, and disappeared several hours after the stimulation, but the users have reported longer-lasting effects after several weeks of regular use of the Omni stimulator.

  1. Your Personal Results

Being a young doctor, I was both very intrigued and skeptic about tDCS technique. That is why I have done a research using every possible scientific source I could find before deciding to buy the device. When I was convinced that this technique is really working, then I had to make the decision which device to purchase. There were several manufacturers, but the Omni stood out for many reasons. First, as I investigated the structure of the device, I noticed that they succeeded to implement the safety measures, which is very important for all users. I have actually performed tests by measuring the current coming out of the electrodes continuously, and neither proximity of the laptop or my cellphone had any impact on the current.

My personal experience with the Omni Stimulator tDCS kit was great. I have been using it for 6 months regularly according to recommendations for memory and cognition improvement. I must say that I wish I had this device during my studies. After one week of use, I noticed that my attention was much better while being involved in any activity. It has helped me to focus on a particular task and I think that contributed to the better memorizing of all the information related to that task.

When you are a doctor and you have too many patients with their histories, there is no chance that you can memorize everything. After a couple of weeks of using the Omni device, I was astonished by the fact that I actually could remember the important facts from a patient’s history just by hearing the name of the patient. That really reflected well on my work, as I didn’t need to go through the whole patient’s history every time they visit.

Now I am even better. Before purchasing the Omni stimulator, the job was the only thing I did, and it often made me very tired and exhausted. Now I work even more, but I also find the time to read, watch movies, hang out with friends, and enjoy my hobbies. It is really amazing how attention is important in everything we do, and I consider the tDCS and the Omni device as one of the first steps towards expanding our mental skills using technology.

You can purchase the tDCS kit on sale at their website www.omnistimulator.com

Omni Stimulator wishes to point out that their product is not a medical device nor does it make any medical claims.

 

 

 

Teaching Children To Remember

The mind is still actively growing and making connections up until a person is past their teenage years, so it’s important to use that opportunity to help children learn memorization skills and stimulate their brains to increase their capacity for creating long-term memories. One of the best ways to do this is by teaching them to incorporate different memorization strategies into their school study, and even in daily life. By giving children opportunities to practice memorization skills, they’ll start automatically using those skills on their own, and this will give them the best possible start for their future education and career development. A healthy, flexible brain will also protect them later from many age-related symptoms like memory loss.

Using multimedia in the classroom or at home to help learning opens up several areas of the brain at once, which creates stronger mental links to information and longer-lasting memories. Combining videos with text documents, history lessons with skits or comic strips, and art projects with science class helps students explore more ways to learn, and to learn more things about a topic. Make sure children are using their eyes, their ears, their voices, and their hands and bodies in the learning process for best results.

Making memory practice into a game gets kids into the habit of memorization. If you visit the zoo with your children, take time on the way home to ask them what animals they remember seeing. For more complicated memory practice, ask about the order in which they saw the animals, or about the information you read on the signs explaining the animal’s natural habitat. Take children shopping and make it their responsibility to remember a set of items you need to buy, without using a list. Help them develop their spatial memory by having them lead the way to the library, the post office, or the park.

And don’t forget that your brain’s neuroplasticity means that you can keep your mind active and growing, so you can use these tips to improve your memory, too!

How to Use Rhymes and Songs to Memorize Information

If you’ve ever gotten a catchy song stuck in your head, you know how easy it is to remember clever lyrics, and those lyrics are usually ones that rhyme. You can use this principle to help you remember things by creating your own memorable rhymes, and even set them to music if you like. People who grew up in the 1970s in the United States probably remember the “Schoolhouse Rock” videos that used melodies and rhymes to help kids learn and memorize facts about history, math, vocabulary, and science. If you watch this short video about the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, you’ll see that even non-rhyming phrases can be made memorable by using music. Another example, Tom Lehrer’s “Element Song,” shows that this memorization tool can be useful for complicated or advanced information, and isn’t simply something that kids can use. Practice making lyrics using the facts you need to learn, and find a tune you can sing that fits the words. If it worked to help you learn your ABCs, you know it will work to help you learn your anatomy, biology, or chemistry lesson!

There’s another way that you can use rhyme to help you remember things like lists of words in order, and that’s to associate each item on the list with a number in sequence. Because the words you need to remember probably don’t rhyme with the numbers, you’ll pick a word that does rhyme, and then use visualization to link the target word with the rhyming word. For example, let’s say you need to memorize the names of the ten longest rivers in the world, starting with the one in the number one position. Here are the river names to memorize: Nile, Amazon, Yangtze, Mississippi, Yenisey, Yellow, Ob, Parana, Congo, Amur. (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

Now find words that rhyme with the numbers 1 through 10 that link to the rivers, like this:

one – sun – the Egyptian sun god Ra floats down the Nile
two – through – the Amazon runs through Peru
three – C – the Yangtze is in China, which starts with the letter C
four – four – use the letter S four times to spell Mississippi
five – drive – it would take a long time to drive to Russia to fish in the Yenisey
six – licks – eating a cone of lemon-flavored ice cream while floating down the Yellow River
seven – Kevin – my friend Kevin crossed Siberia following the Ob River
eight – ate – we ate steak in Argentina where the Parana meets the ocean
nine – mine – there are many gold and diamond mines along the Congo
ten – fence – the Amur River separates Russia and China

Create clear images in your head, or make sketches to illustrate the numbers and the linking words, to reinforce your memory of the connections. The more you practice this technique, the easier it will be, and you’ll also find that the work you do to come up with the rhyming words is already helping you remember the target list, even before you’ve finished making the connections.

How To Help Avoid Depression And Prevent Dementia

New research studies are finding that there appears to be a strong link between depression and dementia. According to Dr. Meryl Butters and other scientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, people over 50 years old who were diagnosed with depression were twice as likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s. One explanation for this, according to the researchers, is that depression causes an increase in stress hormones, which can cause problems in the area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is where a lot of memory processing and storage is done. Another reason may be that stress also contributes to general inflammation in the body, and this leads to problems in blood circulation. If there is not enough blood taking oxygen to the brain, that also causes damage which leads to cognitive problems and memory loss.

Other studies have shown that people who are active socially, who have good connections with family and friends, and who lead a healthy lifestyle are less likely to become clinically depressed. The University of Pittsburgh researchers are also looking at ways to help older people avoid depression, through counseling, home visits, and exercise schedules. According to their early results, the people who received this help lowered their risk of depression by over 60 percent.

At the University of Notre Dame, two researchers have looked at the problem of depression in younger adults. They found that college roommates have a definite influence on each others’ moods and attitudes. If one roommate is extremely depressed, negative, and pessimistic, the researchers found, it’s very likely that the other roommate will start showing the same tendencies. However, a very cheerful, upbeat, and optimistic person can influence their roommate to develop the same traits.

Changing your state of mind when you’re young and practicing being optimistic, calm, active, and healthy appears to be one very good way of preventing age-related memory problems when you get older.

References:

M. Butters, B. Diniz, S. Albert, M. Dew, C. Reynolds III. Late-life depression and risk of vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: systematic review and meta-analysis of community-based cohort studies. British Journal of Psychiatry (2013)

G. Haeffel, J. Hames. Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression Can Be Contagious. Clinical Psychological Science (April 2013)

Stack The Odds In Your Favor With Cameron Havel’s Tips At www.Braintropic.com

Science and technology in the 21st century are getting closer every day to finding a way to provide everything we need for physical and mental health in one little pill – and yet some herbs have been used successfully for thousands of years to improve brain and body alike. With this long history of supplements and the future of modern discoveries, it’s not a surprise that many people get lost in a sea of information about supplements and their uses. That’s one reason that Cameron Havel set up her website, www.Braintropic.com. The site focuses primarily on brain-boosting compounds that are classified under the name “nootropics.” We asked Cameron to explain this word, and how these supplements and compounds can be used to improve memory.

UM: “Nootropics” is a word that’s going to be noo – sorry, “new” – to a lot of people. What is a nootropic?

CH: Nootropics, is indeed a very new word actually! It didn’t exist until 1972, when Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea coined it. He created it by combining “nous”, and “trepein”. Confused yet? Those are Greek, with the former respectively mean “mind,” and the latter meaning “to bend/turn”. So essentially, a nootropic is something that can help bend or mold your mind. Nootropics have a couple requirements to be a nootropic and not simply a cognitive enhancer. These include, almost no toxicity or side effects noted, increasing learning capability even under normally disruptive conditions (low oxygen is one), and even protecting the brain from possible damage. Nootropics really are a powerful tool to have in one’s arsenal, however, I must note they are merely supplements and must be utilized alongside powerful brain training or other tools to be the most effective!

UM: Here at Ultimate Memory we focus on neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to grow and adapt due to stimulation, training, and mental exercise. Do nootropics actually change the physical structure of the brain?

CH: Nootropics do not actually change the physical structure of the brain itself usually! There are a few exceptions, such as Nerve Growth Factor found in Lion’s Mane Mushroom, but the majority of the time, nootropics merely enhances your brains natural learning capabilities to make learning more effective. Typically, this is done by increasing the amount or availability of neurotransmitters, or streamlining other functions of your brain to maximize your brains potential. You mentioned “neuroplasticity”, which is one of my favorite parts of the brain in my opinion. Nootropics simply enhance that ability to learn and adapt. Again, you still need to keep your brain active to reap the benefits. A memory training program like the Ultimate Memory program is very effective by itself even because of our brain’s neuroplasticity. Combining the two would be useful for someone who wants to learn quicker, or perhaps they are even having trouble keeping up, this would allow anyone to reap the benefits of an ultimate memory.

UM: Your “eidetic memory stack” supplement list includes Pramiracetam, Alpha-GPC, and Galantamine, which are not exactly things that you’d pick up on a stroll through the produce aisle at your local supermarket … or are they? Can nootropics be found in fruits, vegetables, and other foods?

CH: Pramiracetam and Galantamine, you’d be hard pressed to find at a local supermarket, I’m afraid. They are simply too complex of molecules to be in food naturally. However, if you are looking for food that contains nootropics, you are indeed in luck! Pretty much anything you can imagine as healthy, fruits, veggies, even fish and meats contain plenty of cognitive enhancing ingredients. The multitude of micronutrients, ie. Vitamins and antioxidants, really cannot be substituted with what you can get from eating healthy food. One of the major ones you could find is actually very similar to Alpha-GPC, which is a type of choline, and a very potent memory enhancer. The highest whole food sources of choline are eggs, 112mg/egg, shrimp, 92mg/4oz, and collard greens, 60mg/cup cooked. Eat em’ up!

UM: You started this website when you were a college student, and students of any age know how important a good memory is. What do you specifically recommend for students to help with studying and exams?

CH: You NEED a good memory for exams and studying. That has been my biggest asset in school. I found a memory training program, stuck with it, and the results have been fantastic. It really got my mind into the perfect state for learning, and combined with nootropics, I feel like my potential for learning has increased exponentially. Really, if you put in the work in the beginning to utilize a good memory training program, the results will start to show. And nootropics will only enhance those absolutely fantastic results. Stick with it people. It really does pay off.

UM: It’s important that people talk to their doctors and physicians before starting to use any supplements. What are some questions people can ask their doctors, or issues that they should raise, to understand what supplements are right for them?

CH: If you take any medications, especially antidepressants or SSRI’s, please make sure you talk to your doctor about what nootropic stack you are taking for any interactions. Generally, nootropics are incredibly safe due to their low toxicity profiles, and ability to protect the brain. However, certain combinations of drugs and nootropics, specifically serotonin related like St. John’s Wort and antidepressants, could be dangerous. Your doctor will be able to tell you whats what.

Can Being Young At Heart Give You A Younger Brain?

Researchers based at Arizona State University discovered something astonishing recently: the brains of older bees that were forced to do tasks that they had done as young bees showed a change in the molecular structure that reversed the effects of aging. In short, acting like a young bee made the bee’s brain young again. According to the study, these bees showed higher levels of a specific protein called glutamate, which is associated with improved memory and a reduced chance of dementia. And not only did each of these bee’s brains act younger, the bees themselves lived longer. As one of the researchers commented, “[T]his does show that … taking on new activities, building new brain connections, delays the bad effects of aging.”

So how can this finding be applied to people? Think about what it’s like to be a child – you’re always in “learning and exploring” mode because everything is new and interesting. You’re willing to try anything and go anywhere. If you’re as eager as a child to learn new skills and get new experiences, your brain will be prompted to create new connections and form new memories. If you’re learning a physical skill like ballroom dancing or golf, then you’ll be improving your overall physical health as well, and that means that your brain will benefit from the increase in oxygenated blood flow. When you learn skills that involve social interaction, you’ll be keeping your spirits up by making new friends and having fun together, and emotional health is directly tied to brain health.

If you want to try the bee experiment on yourself, think about something that you used to do as a child but don’t do any more. Did you used to like riding a bicycle, or playing checkers, or going swimming with friends at the lake? Get back into the good habits you had in earlier years, and you’ll help recreate the active mind and body that you had back then as well. Remember how much fun you used to have, and use those memories to create an enjoyable future in which you’re happy to be busy as a bee!

Reference: N. Bakera, F. Wolschina, G. Amdama. Age-related learning deficits can be reversible in honeybees Apis mellifera. Experimental Gerontology, Volume 47, Issue 10 (October 2012)

The Mind-Body Connection: A New Meaning For “Muscle Memory”

Practicing the same movements over and over to perfect a skill involves something called muscle memory, the unconscious signals that the brain sends along nerve pathways to make the body move in a specific way. Whether you’re working on a ballet step, a tennis serve, or your spelling skills, consciously repeating the motions creates permanent pathways in the brain that eventually make the process automatic. But do the pathways work the other way as well? Can your body influence how your brain works?

Two professors of marketing from the University of Chicago and the National University of Singapore created a study focused on this idea, titled “From Firm Muscles to Firm Willpower: Understanding the Role of Embodied Cognition in Self-Regulation.” Iris W. Hung and Aparna A. Labroo put participants through five different tests of self-control, and measured how deliberate muscle movements affected both a person’s decisions and their thoughts about those decisions. After analyzing the results, the outcome was clear: “When people tighten their muscles while exerting self-control, they can also strengthen willpower and thus further enhance their self-control.” This important finding can have applications in many areas, and help people in a variety of situations. For example, if you’ve set yourself a goal to do memory skills practice every day, but are finding it hard to stick to your schedule, you could clench your fist while making yourself sit down for practice. You’ll “get a grip” on your routine, and the next time you’re tempted to avoid your study session, making a fist will nudge your brain and your attitude into the right frame for sitting down again and working.

Daily memory practice is important, because it strengthens your mental resources for storing and accessing information. Strengthen your resolve using the muscles of your body, and you’ll form stronger mental muscles as well.

Can Alzheimer’s Be Cured?

For thousands of years, the practice of trepanning, or drilling a hole in the skull, was a common treatment that was thought to cure mental health problems, eliminate epilepsy and seizures, and in general restore balance to the brain. From Neolithic shamans who performed this procedure to release the evil spirits that were troubling the patient, to New Age proponents of the practice who believe it increases blood flow to the brain, we’ve always known there’s something going on inside the skull that affects our physical, mental, and emotional health. However, outside of actually drilling those holes or performing surgery, until recently scientists could only observe what was happening in the brain through scans. With modern technological advances, including the use of electrodes, medical researchers are finding that they can actually directly affect the working of the brain with pinpoint accuracy.

One of the leading research scientists in this effort is Andres Lozano at the University of Toronto in Canada. At a recent session of the TEDxCalTech lecture series, he gave a presentation on some of the studies he and his team are doing to essentially rewire the brain using electricity. This “deep brain stimulation” has been successful in stopping the muscle tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease, and in realigning the emotional centers of the brain to treat depression. Now they’re working on treating memory decline in Alzheimer’s patients, using electricity to “turbocharge the memory circuits in the brain,” as Lozano puts it. In early trials they have found that the treatment is successful in restarting activity in areas of the brain that have shut down, causing this memory and cognition loss. Ultimate Memory applauds these research projects and wishes Dr. Lozano and his team all the best in this endeavor.

You can watch the video of Dr. Lozano’s presentation at CalTech on the TED site.

The Secret To A Better Memory? Champagne!

Let’s raise a glass and toast all of the researchers and their happy clinical trial participants who get to drink champagne to test its effects on the brain! And let’s celebrate a second time, because the results of the latest study on alcohol and brain function is making people absolutely effervescent with joy. At the University of Reading, Great Britain, a team led by Dr. Giulia Corona discovered that moderate intake of champagne (slightly less than two glasses per week) produced a significant increase in the rate of communication between brain cells. Since this cross-brain communication is essential in memory function, especially in the areas of spatial memory and long-term memory consolidation, these findings are opening the way for important research in the future.

The initial results of the study, according to the research team, show that the phenolic compounds in champagne, which are different from the chemical compounds in other types of alcohol, increase blood flow and help prevent the formation of free radicals. This means that more oxygen and glucose is transmitted to the brain cells, and those cells are protected from degeneration. Healthy, well-nourished cells are key to a healthy, well-functioning memory.

Red wine has been promoted as helping brain function, but the results from the champagne study indicate that the structure of its phenolic compounds make it a better candidate for this role; the smaller size of the molecules in champagne allow more to be absorbed by the cells. The study included testing on laboratory rats and their ability to navigate a maze. As the researchers report, “[c]hampagne wine intervention significantly increased spatial working memory in aged animals.”

Like all other studies that indicate a benefit, either physical or mental, from drinking alcohol, this one emphasizes that moderation is key. One to two glasses of champagne a week is beneficial, but make sure that you aren’t exceeding the limits for your age, body type, and state of health. If you have questions about whether you should be drinking champagne, you should consult your doctor.

If you’re comfortable with terms like “endothelial independent vasodilatation” and “matrix metalloproteinase activity” you might find the published study interesting – the full text is at the University of Reading Central Archive.

3 Things About Memory That Will Surprise You

Memorization has always been a part of learning, but the way people look at how to memorize things is changing over the years. Researchers and scientists study memory from several perspectives, including the physical processes that take place in the brain and the techniques people can use to learn to remember facts, figures, and faces. Some of the results of these studies are leading to changes in the way we learn, and it’s important to be aware of how traditional study methods might actually get in the way of memory formation and recall. Here are three ways that you can change how you learn, and how you remember.

Stay focused, but for shorter time periods. It’s exhausting spending five hours reading through a textbook on one topic, trying to learn all you can about the history of the French Revolution, for example, before a test. Instead of concentrating on that book alone, take a break and study something else for a while, then go back to the first text. If you can study a second topic that’s related to the first one, this will work even better. In this example, perhaps you’ve got a French language test to study for as well, or even Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” to read for a literature class. Make sure the break isn’t too long, though – just enough to make your brain work at picking up your train of thought when you return to the history book.

Force yourself to remember. You’re probably used to taking notes during classes or meetings, so that you’ll remember what’s being discussed. However, if you concentrate on the discussions and lectures and presentations, and then write up your notes after the session is over, you’ll strengthen your memory of the information, and also give yourself good practice in real-time memorization as well as later recall.

Keep reviewing information. Many people think that if they just work hard enough at memorizing information, once they can repeat it back accurately that’s all they need to do. However, scientists and researchers have long known that just as there’s a learning curve, there’s also a “forgetting curve.” In order to really lock away those details in your memory, you need to review them regularly. A good example of this is using flash cards to study vocabulary words. You can set aside cards with words you think you’ve got memorized, and then test yourself a few weeks or months later to make sure that they really are firmly in your long-term memory.

Reference: Bjork, R. A., Dunlosky, J., & Kornell, N. (2013). Self-regulated learning: Beliefs, techniques, and illusions. Annual Review of Psychology, 64, 417-444.