Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Prevent Cognitive Decline

Every morning my father practices a daily activity of speed-reading on various topics. Over decades of practice he has improved his cognitive recognition and retention of some the most challenging academic disciplines - rapidly. Most exciting is his claim that the wide array of challenging topics chosen for these exercises actually improves his ability to learn. The more difficult the book, the more stimulating the effects are on his mind lighting up with the euphoria of new learning. Recently, he has become increasingly interested in finding ways to explain, test, and share his experience with others.


Effortful learning may help to slow the effects of an aging mind. In fact, involvement in mentally challenging activities could slow the rate of cognitive decline caused by degenerative diseases. “Learning to Learn” is a method of boosting problem-solving skills. It enhances neurogenesis, which is believed to prevent and or treat disorders that lead to cognitive decline.


When learning is difficult, neurons throughout the hippocampus become fully engaged. This is important because when a mind is not challenged, new neurons lack the stimulation required to exist. The most opportune time to learn is when newborn cells, which start life unspecialized, begin to differentiate into neurons and respond to neurotransmitters. It is important to note that there is a critical window of time in which learning can save newborn neurons. Training before this time is too early.


An enhanced capacity for learning demonstrated by rats continually challenged with difficult learning exercises, showed that stimulating neurons throughout the hippocampus was necessary for them to be fully engaged. Research also showed that activities involving cognitive effort were responsible for new neuron development. When unchallenged, new neurons lacked the stimulation needed to survive and consequently faded away. For example, animals that were slow to learn and required more trials to learn task mastery ended up with more new neurons than animals that learned quickly. The findings also showed that more successfully an organism learned the material, the higher number of new neurons were retained. This proves the hypothesis that learning that requires concerted effort stimulates new neurons.


The theory was tested by injecting animal test subjects with BrdU at the beginning of an experiment. One week later, subjects were recruited into the eyeblink training program. The remaining subjects were not stimulated with challenging activity (control group). Some days after training, it was found that the challenged rats retained more BrdU-labeled neurons in the hippocampus than did the control rats. The study also found that before cells can be wired into the brain with neurons, new cells must be somewhat mature before they can respond to learning.


As science searches for solutions to mental diseases like Alzheimer’s, and other causes of debilitating progressive memory loss and learning ability, finding ways of delaying the maturation of mental decline could lead to the preservation of self reliance and more rich and fulfilling living throughout our twilight years. Possibly my father’s experience with subliminal reading could become more a widely adopted practice to keep ones mind active. It might even help avoid the debilitating effects of aging on the mind. (Learn this technique at: ShhTract.com.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't Rely on Oral Contracts

When considering entering into a contract, the Statute of Frauds is an important protector of your interests. The Statute of Frauds protects parties who enter important contracts that can have significant effects on them if not well thought though.

The statute of frauds requires specific types of contracts to be in writing or evidenced by a written memorandum, rather than an oral agreement.

There are five types of contracts that fall within this category:

  1. Contracts involving land.

  2. Contracts that cannot by their terms bee performed within 1 year.

  3. Collateral, or secondary contracts, such as promises to answer for the debt or duty of another and promises by the administrator or executor of an estate to pay a debt of the estate personally.

  4. Promises made in consideration of marriage.

  5. Contracts for sales of goods exceeding $5,000 or more.


Is the Statute of Frauds a good thing?

It definitely protects people from entering into contracts they might not otherwise have fully thought through. If one must put something into writing and sign it, they must have thought about it more seriously than having simply held a conversation over it.

The Statute of Frauds protects parties from being held to agreements that might put them at an undue hardship.

  • Landowners might lose their land, and ultimately shelter.

  • For the guarantor of a collateral promise, he/she might be overburdened financially by the transaction of accumulating another’s debt.

  • For a party of considerable wealth to enter into marriage without fully considering a prenuptial contract, he/she could lose a significant amount of their estate in the event of a divorce.

  • For parties purchasing $5,000 or more of goods, only one who could afford such an investment would be likely to sign a contract for those goods.

  • The one-year rule, also protects those who enter into it. So many circumstances can change within a year that it is vital for parties that will fulfill a contract outside of that timeframe to be bound to that agreement.


To put oneself in a position that is detrimental to their financial situation or lifestyle (shelter), one must thoroughly consider such a decision. Hopefully for the majority of people, a written contract will have ensured this.


All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

ABCD's of Skin Cancer

Early detection is the best prevention against any type of cancer.

To prevent the risk from skin cancers, aside limiting sun exposure, one should regularly inspect moles and freckles on the skin. There are four specific signs to look for when inspecting moles that appear on the skin:

  • Asymmetry: When half of the mole does not match the other half.

  • Border: When the border (edges) of the mole are ragged or irregular.

  • Color: When the color of the mole varies throughout.

  • Diameter: When the mole's diameter is larger than a pencil's eraser.


Skin Cancer Facts:

  • Most tumors that arise in the skin are benign and do not metastasize.

  • Skin cancer can be caused by excessive exposure to sunlight.

  • Three forms of cancer are:

    • Basal Cell Carcinoma (Slow growing; rarely metastasizes relatively easy to treat if caught early)

    • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (Cancer of the epidermis)

    • Malignant Melanoma (The worst type; very rapid growing; metastasizes rapidly throughout the body; people can die from this type of cancer; early detection is the best defense.)



  • Among the risk factors for skin cancer are:

    • Skin type

    • Sun exposure

    • Family History

    • Age

    • Weak immune system



Sunday, July 4, 2010

Brain Shape = Function

Imagine evidence from brain-imaging aiding in criminal conviction. In the film Minority Report, actor Tom Cruise plays a law enforcement officer of the “Pre-Crime” division of a privatized police force. In the story, Cruise’s character is framed for a crime he had not yet committed. The movie warns of the potential for distortion when second-guessing our free will. Perhaps this isn’t simply science fiction. Advanced imaging and methods of measuring brains shape, could lead “experts” to make predictions about someone’s individual character, and even one’s propensity to commit a crime.


Early “scientists” judged the shape of a human brain to predict brain function. However, recent breakthroughs in brain shape analysis are also discovering a link between brain shape and brain function. New models of cortex folding that combine genetics and physical principles can help integrate what is known about morphology, development and mental connectivity along with genetic processes that could control timing and development of the cortex. By creating a detailed timetable of the formation of many different connections that make up the brain’s communication system, we will be able to determine when different parts of the cortex develop in the womb. This will enable scientists to experiment by modifying the development of distinct layers or neurons.


Researchers have begun to understand that autism arises from mis-wiring of the brain. This causes communication between nearby cortical areas to increase, while communication between distant areas decreases. People with autism exhibit deviations from the normal number and positions of neurons in cortical layers compared with those of healthy subjects. Abnormal distribution of neurons in cortical layers disrupts connections and impairs the function of the nervous system in communication.


In fact “the range of neurological diseases with vastly different symptoms such as those seen in schizophrenia, autism, Williams syndrome, childhood epilepsy, and other disorders may be the result of pathology arising at different times in development and variously affecting regions, layers and sets of neurons that happen to be emerging, migrating or connecting when the process goes awry.” Claus C. Hilgetag and Helen Barbas (2010)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Olive Oil is NOT the Healthiest

We've all heard about the health benefits of olive oil - but did you know...
There are 2 oils far healthier than olive oil.

Sunflower Oil & Safflower Oil:

* have more polyunsaturated - (good fats) than olive oil
* less monounsaturated and less saturated fats (bad fats) than olive oil.

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FAT FACTS:

The more saturated - the more it sticks together & clogs arteries.
The more unsaturated - the healthier - as it does not stick together.

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BELOW CHART GUIDE:

BEST = Yellow (polyunsaturated fat) - Healthiest
WORST = Blue (saturated fat) - unhealthiest
IN BETWEEN = Red (monounsaturated) is less unhealthy than a saturated fat, but can still stick to arteries


FOR YOUR BEST HEALTH:
* eat more yellow (polyunsaturated) fats
* eat less blues (saturated) and less reds (monounsaturated).