A Book Review: Younger Brains, Sharper Brains by Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
by Maggie Dail, M.A., Learning Specialist
Chapter 2: The Causes of Cognitive Decline
“The difference between a resourceful mind and senility is only 100 milliseconds of brain speed. We react to light in 50 milliseconds, recognize sound in 100 milliseconds, and think in 300 milliseconds. By the time we slow down to 400 milliseconds, we can no longer process logical thought.” p. 23
We lose 7-10 milliseconds each decade just due to age. It happens so slowly and gradually, that we seldom notice it.
“While we can’t recognize a change in brain speed, many people know that something has changed with their thinking.” p. 24 Many of us describe it as “brain fog.”
Three Kinds of MCI (illustration p. 24)
Amestic – memory loss, increased forgetfulness
Non-amestic – single domain – loss of one aspect of cognitive functioning, without forgetfulness
Non-amestic – multiple domain– loss of many aspects of cognitive functioning, without forgetfulness
Beyond loss of memory there is a separation between thinking and doing. All of this unbalances the brain.
Causes of MCI (p. 25-31)
- Aging — number 1 cause
- Addiction (related to dopamine and can include alcohol, drugs, overeating, gambling)
- Prescription medicines (may cause brain fog, blur vision, increase fatigue, affect depth perception)
- Over-the-Counter medicines (allergy and cold; heartburn)
- Parasites, bacteria and viral infections (HIV, TB, Epstein- Barr, Lyme, CMV)
- Degenerative disorders (MS, ALS, Huntington’s,etc.)
- Physical trauma – (repeated injuries, 20-30 year old injuries)
- Psychiatric disorders (anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, panic attacks)
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia, others)
- Toxic exposure (aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury)
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (B1, B3, B6, B12, nicotinic acid, zinc)
According to researchers at University of California, San Diego, Medical Center….”The rate at which the sense of smell is lost may predict how rapidly cognitive functioning is lost.” (boxed text p. 29)
Next we will discuss changes in mood and personality.