As we get older, our memory becomes poor and it is harder and harder to learn new things. Some people believe that memory loss is caused by brain cells gradually dying off but that is not true. So, what causes age-related cognitive impairment?
Why our memory become poor with age?
Researchers at the University of Leicester recently found that calcium levels in specific cells in the brain can be a crucial factor.
Previous researches have only concentrated on postsynaptic cells, the ones which receive neurotransmitter "message". But the latest study found a way to measure calcium levels in presynaptic cells, the ones which deliver neurotransmitter "message".
Researchers developed a special strain of mice which can express a calcium-sensing fluorescent protein within the presynaptic parts. They used mazes and object recognition tests to study the cognitive functions of mice at ages of 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.
It turned out that there is a clear correlation between cognitive ability and presynaptic calcium levels. The older the mouse is, the higher presynaptic calcium level it gets.
The most fascinating thing is that lowering calcium level in old mouse can rejuvenate their synapses and thus increase their memory. This result obviously has enormous potential significance for age-related health issues in humans.
Last but not the least, although calcium level becomes higher with age, there are still ways that can postpone the process.
Some tips to help you improve memory
1. Do physical exercises
Physical activities can increase blood flow to your whole body including your brain. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. You can try brisk walking for the former and jogging for the later.
2. Do mental exercises
Mental activities can also help keep your brain in shape. You can:
Play a musical instrument
Play crossword puzzles
Take alternate routes when driving
Do volunteer work at a local school or community organization
3. Live a regular life
Having good living habits can help keep memory loss at bay. You should:
Keep to-do lists
Limit distractions and don't do too many things at once
Set aside a place for your essentials such as wallet and keys
4. Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet might be as good for your brain and heart. You should eat:
Low-fat protein sources such as fish, beans and skinless poultry