Tag Archives: memory loss


brainThe latest research shows that our memory starts to demonstrably decline after age 40….far younger than any had expected.  But generally, we do not notice this decline until our 50’s and 60’s and then, for most of us, this is a matter of simple word-finding or problems with proper names.  Often, patients will ask me what they can do to help with this type of memory loss in the earliest stages of AAMI (Age Associated Memory Impairment).

My response is simple….EEE….or E3.

Exercise:  This is the number one method for improving memory.  Whether from improved brain blood flow, or the generation of chemicals in muscle that promotes nerve function, EXERCISE is the most important memory enhancer found in research.

Engagement:  Actively keeping your mind ENGAGED, whether through game playing by yourself or with others, reading a book, being involved with social activities, or participating in charitable/self-actualizing events.

Vitamin E:  Although the evidence is suggestive only, there have been studies showing that 2000 units of Vitamin E daily can enhance memory in patients with early Alzheimer’s disease.  If this is helpful with more active memory loss, it could potentially provide benefits in milder memory issues.



brain lightbulbI am envisioning a day when my older patients with significant neurologic issues (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Dementias and Memory Decline of various types) will return to class to improve their brains and physical constitution.   They’ll go back to school….and they’ll like it!   This school would be called DDA …..Dr. Doug’s Academy (I’m riffing on an idea here…so let me have my fun!)

An elementary school at the age of 70, it would be a whole day affair.  It would start early in the morning, as the older set often have sleep issues.  The day would consist of more physical activity than mental activity, because it turns out that physical activity has the strongest correlation with improvement in brain function and memory.  We’d have 3-4 sections of physical activity daily, and then 2-3 classes that are academically oriented, as this remains important in it’s own right.

We’ll serve healthy food, abstain from liquor (to excess…a little liquor would be OK…perhaps even during the daytime!…..You’ll like my school.)  With all of this going on….we might need a naptime too with cookies and milk.

Why do I construct my school this way?  Because research is showing greater potential for spontaneous brain healing than we have previously imagined.  In this article from the WSJ sent in by a patient, you can read about the research that is informing such an approach.   Read>>>>HERE.



beauty sunshineSleep is a hot topic these days, as researchers and finding out how important it is for our general health, particularly in a world that is going 24-hours and driven by computer/social networking that is never-ending.

Despite this 24 hour cycle, we are meant to sleep a large portion of our day, even if we would rather not do this.  Sleep is important for energy, memory, weight regulation, and mood balance;  without proper sleep, all these various areas of our day-to-day can suffer.

Find out if you are a lark or an owl…and if you have a sleep deficit, by filling out this interesting form on this website by a German sleep-researcher.


In addition, if you need help wit sleep, there is a nice booklet on GOOD SLEEP HABITS or try the SLEEP HYGEINE RULES in THE GUIDE.



brain danceMemory concerns are common as we age, and I talk to several people every day about what they can do to improve their memory.

The list is simple:

1.  Exercise regularly.  It turns out that exercise is the single most important method for improving memory.  Increased blood flow provides improved cerebral circulation and stimulation.   Daily walks are great and some vigor, for 30 minutes three times per week, is advisable.  Even more is better.

2.  Mental exercise.  Any interaction that helps keep the mind stimulated is helpful.  Conversations, game-playing, computer gaming, or other social activities are helpful.  Puzzling and reading are also good.  TV watching is a poor substitute, but not without some benefits.

3.  Three square meals a day.  Keeping energy and glucose ‘at the ready’ is important for brain function.  The more balanced the diet, the better the brain functions.

4.  Supplements are a consideration, including B-complex and Vitamin E.   Exact dosages are uncertain, but routine B-complex vitamin is fine, with Methyl Protect, from Zymogen, being my favored B-supplement.  Vitamin E, from 1000-2000 units daily, can also be helpful per the latest studies



brain blood cellsThis weekend’s Wall Street Journal had an article about various aspects of short-term memory, with a focus on a twist in memory that I had not heard of previously.

What we see and notice has a lot to do with our ability to recall, and you may recall (or you may not!) my previous lecture on memory which started out with the famous Harvard psychology experiment with the basketball (see >>>>HERE<<<< )

This WSJ article puts a new twist to memory and focus, displaying some aspects of memory I’m sure you’ve never known about previously.   See the WSJ article >>>>>>>HERE<<<<<

And if you have 5 minutes, take the time to test your own memory, and prove to yourself that your ability to identify information has some interesting characteristics that you never knew.

Take the test >>>>>HERE<<<<<.




Well….my title for this piece is not quite accurate, but it rhymes!

I’m talking about the famous patient from the past, Phineas Gage.   His story if one of the ‘classics’ of neurology, as he had  a severe injury from an explosion that damaged his brain, and he lived to tell about it.  Although never formally studied by scientists, there have been many reports over the years about the course of his injury, recuperation, and later life.  Much of this has achieved the level of myth, and it is the challenge of sifting myth from fact that prompted the latest article in SLATE MAGAZINE (READ IT HERE).

Did the damage to his brain yield a man forever changed by that fateful day, or did his brain heal and leave him little different than prior to the injury?  Is the frontal lobe area in control of our personality, or is it only a minor player?  Read the SLATE MAGAZINE STORY to get a more objective view of the historical details as they are known.

Even I have spoke about Gage’s influence on our understanding of memory, when I gave my talk about memory and Alzheimer’s disease (Minute 8 of the Memory Video >>>HERE)    Much of what I said was incorrect and influenced by the publication from one of my former professors, Dr. Antonia Demasio (U of Iowa Neurologist…now at USC department of Neurology.)

So…like many people who think they ‘know’ the story….the truth is more interesting than the stories we’ve generally told.





balloonsAs most of you know, I am not a huge proponent of vitamins, based on concerns about the potential negatives they can cause,  as well as the lack of evidence for their general effectiveness.

That said, there are situations in which vitamins can be considered and here is a list of my current recommendations, with particular brands mentioned (that are known to be of high quality.  Other brands may be fine, but these are the ones I am comfortable with.)

Bones (documented osteoporosis with added Vitamin D required.)

Natural Factors Vitamin D3 (1000, 2000, 5000 unit capsules)

Calcium Citrate…..Citrical Brand (all varieties)



Nature Made Vitamin E 1000 unit capsules, 2 daily

B Vitamins (folic acid & B-12) in the form of Xymogen Methyl Protect, 1 daily (we have this at our office)



Nature Made Vitamin E 400 units capsules, 2 daily


Hair Loss (Alopecia)

Nature Made Biotin 2500mcg

Natural Factors Easy Iron, 20mg tablets, 1-2 daily


Iron Deficiency Anemia:

Natural Factors Easy Iron, 20mg tablets, 1-4 daily (easiest on the digestion)

Ferro Sequels (Ferrous Fumarate), slow release iron, 1-4 per day

Iron Sulfate 325mg, 1-3 per day

“Interesting if true, if not… interesting anyway” –Mark Twain

mark-twain-1Could it be that we have it all wrong about our ‘slower’ brains as we age.  These German researchers suggest so, explaining that older brains take longer to process information because they have so much information stored from past experience, that it takes more time to sift through this data.

Take heart…as we age….we all know things are improving in ways.  Perhaps this is another….

Read more HERE.



brainI hear from patients that they have concerns that statins (cholesterol lowering medication like Lipitor, Zocor, etc…) can cause memory loss and that they have read this in the paper.  This question has been raised at times and the information is mixed.

On one hand, as a strong medication to prevent stroke, it is thought cholesterol-lowering medication should reduce cognitive decline by prevent strokes and microstrokes and thus preventing multiple brain injuries that could increase the likelihood of dementia.

On the other hand, cholesterol is an important component of all cells, and in particular the cells of the CNS (central nervous system….read brain) and by interfering with normal cholesterol production, they may cause unanticipated injury to these cells and impair memory.

Enter the latest ‘meta analysis’…a study of various studies, that shows no evidence of cognitive decline with statins.   In a revew of 25 different studies, they found no issues of significant memory loss and this data is considered reassuring to those of us (myself included) on statin medication.

Although this is reassuring, more data will be forthcoming and we will keep an eye on this topic as it is of keen interest.  For now, I think we can feel confident in the ongoing safety of these widely used medications.

The study in Annals of Internal Medicine


brainWhat is CRS? Well…it’s not a scientific term….it stands for “CAN’T REMEMBER SQUAT” …and is shorthand for the memory issues that develop as we get older.

Memory issues develop as young as 40 years-old, with the latest research showing that the 40+ brain is in decline as regards memory, and this is 10-20 years earlier than we previously thought.

With the conversation about dementia increasing with the aging of the population, the concerns about Alzheimer’s disease specifically, is becoming greater and there is an interest in educating the public about this condition.  As a result, efforts have been underway to identify patients with memory loss early to consider interventions in experimental studies.  Unfortunately, there are no medications for early memory loss, so the basics remain:  Good diet, Good exercise, and Good Habits (no smoking…to prevent strokes).

The latest article in the British Medical Journal calls into question the value of identifying patients with ‘CRS’ type memory issues early, as labeling individuals for memory loss may not be strongly associated with future issues of dementia.  Although we all remain concerned about this issue, it may be best to just ‘observe’ your memory and let things be, only  intervening with yourself or your loved-ones if the memory declines to a point of impairing day-to-day function.  Early identification may not provide benefit and may create more worry than help.