Memory refers to the cognitive function which allows us to record and recall information.
Working memory, semantic memory, procedural memory, perceptual memory … there are many complementary forms of memory.
Interestingly, there’s no single memory center in the brain: memorization involves many regions (the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, etc.). It works by creating and strengthening synaptic connections between neurons using electrical and biochemical signals. Synaptic plasticity is how these inter-neuron connections are strengthened or weakened, in response to experience.
With age, synaptic plasticity diminishes due to a decrease in neurotransmitter production, the decline in synaptic receptors, and the consequences of oxidation, DNA damage, and other forms of cellular wear and tear.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle is extremely important for maintaining optimal memory: sleeping well, exercising, avoiding stress and limiting intake of stimulants, alcohol and drugs, etc. It’s also crucial to make the effort to eat a varied diet with plenty of different nutrients.
Regular memory training is another effective way of maintaining this faculty. Stimulating your mind in a fun way is an excellent approach, with word games (crosswords), number games (sudoku), board games, computer games, meditation ... the possibilities are endless!
Omega-3 fatty acids are often recommended for supporting memory … and this is no coincidence. The omega-3 DHA, in particular, is recognized for helping to maintain normal brain function and thus capacity for memorisation, amongst others.
DHA is naturally present in oily fish (wild salmon, mackerel, herring …) and seafood (oysters, shrimps, etc.) and can also be found at higher levels in dietary supplements (such as Super DHA).
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid found in cell membranes, especially those of brain cells. It is being studied for its potential effects on memory.
More specifically, many scientists believe it may be able to support cell membrane fluidity while promoting the release of neurotransmitters and combatting the oxidative stress that damages the brain.
The body’s ability to produce phosphatidylserine declines with age, but it is available in supplement form (such as PS 100). It’s worth noting that combining DHA with phosphatidylserine appears to offer a particularly effective synergy, especially for elderly people.
Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair tree, is one of the best-known medicinal plants for supporting cognitive function, including memory. Its properties come from two active ingredients, ginkgoflavonglycosides and terpene lactones (1-2).
In the main, ginkgo biloba works by:
You can find gingko in the form of both dried leaves for making infusions and dietary supplements with a high content of active ingredients (such as Ginkgo biloba).
Another key plant to consider in the context of memory problems is Bacopa monnieri (3). The benefits of this aquatic plant come from active principles called bacosides.
Bacopa monnieri supports cognitive function primarily by regulating the concentration and activity of certain neurotransmitters (serotonin, acetylcholine, etc.), which play a central role in memory.
This plant is available in the form of dried powders, tinctures, and standardized extracts sold as nootropic supplements (such as Bacopa monnieri).
Note that the synergistic formulation Neurex combines extracts of both Ginkgo biloba and Bacopa monnieri, as well as other beneficial compounds (such as centella and huperzia, excellent for cognitive and mental health).
Ginseng is Chinese medicine’s most famous plant, known for supporting the immune system, vitality, sex life ... but it is also recommended for helping to maintain brain performance and reactivity (4).
The plant’s effects on brain function, including memory, are due to its adaptogen properties (it reduces the effects of stress on the brain), capacity to improve neurotransmission and potential neuroprotective benefits.
Have you ever benefited from the many positive effects of ginseng supplementation?
Lion’s mane, or Hericium erinaceus, is a mushroom with a high content of hericenones and beta-glucan polysaccharides.
Studies suggest that Hericium erinaceus extract may support memory through its bioactive compounds which promote neuron growth and stimulate synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF) (5). Definitely one to watch!
In fact, this mushroom is already available in supplement form (for example Lion’s Mane).
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