Memory

Can getting quality sleep help prevent Alzheimer’s disease?

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

Sleep gives the brain the opportunity to rid itself of proteins believed to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and now research is showing an association between poor sleep and the accumulation of those proteins.

Your brain on chocolate

Robert H. Shmerling, MD
Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

When research finds a connection between consumption of high-flavanol dark chocolate and improved brain function, it’s tempting to interpret it as permission to eat a lot of chocolate, but the truth isn’t quite so simple.

This is your brain on alcohol

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Moderate drinking may have negative long-term effects on the brain’s health, but as yet the research is inconclusive, and must be weighed alongside the evidence that moderate alcohol consumption benefits the heart. If you’re a moderate or light drinker trying to decide whether to cut back for health reasons, you probably want to consider a variety of factors.

More evidence that exercise helps keep your brain fit

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

A review of dozens of studies on the benefits of exercise on cognitive health concluded that, for those over 50, just about any form of activity is beneficial if performed regularly.

Super-agers: This special group of older adults suggests you can keep your brain young and spry

Matthew Solan
Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men's Health Watch

While some people seem genetically predisposed to retain mental sharpness in old age, there are things anyone can do that can help maintain cognitive ability, or perhaps improve it.

4 science-backed ways toward better learning (Hint: drop the highlighter)

David R. Topor, PhD, MS-HPEd

It’s challenging to remember information when reading or studying, but there are techniques that can be applied to help you retain what you read more effectively. Research shows that common practices, like studying the same topic for a long time and the use of highlighters can get in the way of retaining information.

A healthy lifestyle may help you sidestep Alzheimer’s

Heidi Godman
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

By now it’s evident that healthy lifestyle habits have clear benefits, and evidence suggests that keeping Alzheimer’s disease at bay may eventually be added to the list. Data are strongest for regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and sufficient sleep as important ways to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Other lifestyle choices may help as well.

The “thinking” benefits of doodling

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Remaining focused for extended periods of time is difficult, but researchers believe that doodling gives a break to parts of the brain, making it possible to absorb and retain more information overall. While this phenomenon is not well understood, neuroscience is starting to learn how doodling might help boost attention and and focus.

Spice up your holidays with brain-healthy seasonings

Uma Naidoo, MD
Uma Naidoo, MD, Contributor

Spices and herbs have a long history as a safe component of human diets and traditional health practices. Aromatic ingredients that flavor our holiday meals also deliver antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and other bioactive compounds that benefit the brain.

Heart disease and brain health: Looking at the links

Julie Corliss
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter

To keep your brain in tip top shape as you age, work to lower your risk for heart disease. Steps that can help protect both your heart and cognitive abilities include getting regular physical activity, quitting smoking, managing blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.