Enhancing Cognitive Function

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Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that mental decline associated with aging is more significant and happens more quickly than was originally thought. The study found that there is a steep mental decline in people over the age of 74. “Although we would prefer that aging not necessarily be accompanied by cognitive decline, these data suggest that for the vast majority of (elderly) populations, it is,” said Dr. Carol Brayne of the Institute of Public Health in Cambridge, U.K.

The news is good because it is exciting to find that the brain can generate new neurons. The scientists at Princeton have recently discovered that neurons are not lost with age, but new nerve cells are created instead. Neurons are created near the ventricles in the brain and then travel to various locations, including the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for “higher cognitive functions.”

This discovery implies that at least some neurons can be replaced. The belief that the brain inevitably shrinks and progressively atrophies as we age is no longer held by many people. Now, this dark view can be replaced by a new search for ways to help the brain regenerate and keep its young powers.

If new neurons are also being created in human brains, there is a lot of hope that we will be able to reverse any brain damage and preserve good thinking skills as we get older. The new discovery indicates that it is essential to give the brain the proper nutrients so that the newly formed cells can develop properly. It seems that when there is a lot of cell membrane building blocks, such as phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine, neuronal regeneration is easier. Nerve growth factors are controlled by hormones, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sex-steroid hormones.

Age-related cognitive decline typically starts to become noticeable in middle age, when people start complaining that their memories aren’t as good as they used to be. After you reach the age of 50, you must work hard to maintain your mental fitness, just like you would with your physical fitness. Raising the declining levels of neurotransmitters is one challenge. There are two ways to ensure optimal brain function. The first is to keep neural cell membranes efficient and fluid.

Why we need choline

The brain has a voracious appetite for choline. There are two main reasons for the brain’s need for choline: it is required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and it is used for the construction and maintenance of brain cell membranes.

Acetylcholine is important for cognition, memory, and sleep and also affects motor function. As expected, the amount of acetylcholine decreases as people age, causing problems with memory, learning, and thinking. The levels of acetylcholine are low in Alzheimer’s disease. Cholinergic neurons are the most degenerated in Alzheimer’s disease.

If the brain doesn’t get enough choline to make acetylcholine, it may take choline from the cell membranes of nerves. This is called auto-cannibalism. This process, while providing a temporary supply of choline to produce acetylcholine, will eventually damage nerve cells beyond repair, causing rigidity and dysfunction in neural cell membranes.

Choline is also important for the maintenance of healthy cell membranes. Phosphatidylcholine is one-third of the cell membrane phospholipids. Phosphatidylcholine activates the formation of other neuro-chemicals

Choline and sleep

Acetylcholine helps promote sleep by maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle. Acetylcholine controls the amount of sensory input. It strengthens the barrier that makes it possible to sleep through minor noises and other disturbances. We become light sleepers as we age, meaning we are easily roused from sleep. Menopausal women often find themselves becoming light sleepers as a result of the sudden drop in acetylcholine levels that occurs when they stop producing estrogen. This same barrier to stimulus can also help them to concentrate better and solve problems. If we don’t have enough acetylcholine, we can’t focus because we’re constantly being bombarded with irrelevant information.

People who are going through menopause (and not taking hormone replacement therapy) often say that their mucous membranes are very dry. This can cause problems like nosebleeds. Acetylcholine is responsible for keeping mucous membranes moist. The bladder too is under cholinergic control.

Protection against high cholesterol

Choline is important in preventing the buildup of cholesterol. It works with inositol to help break down fat. Cholesterol is less likely to settle on artery walls or in the gallbladder as long as it is emulsified. Phosphatidylcholine helps the body to use or excrete cholesterol and fats.

If you are watching your cholesterol, you are likely also engaged in a serious exercise program. Strenuous exercise, like running a marathon, can greatly lower choline levels. A study of Boston marathon runners found that some runners had decreased by as much as 40%. This could be because choline is needed for metabolizing fats, and this need is increased during exercise.

Fetal development

Some recent studies have found that if pregnant rats are given choline supplements (which contain four to seven times the amount of choline present in regular rat food) during the last half of their pregnancy, their offspring will have improved learning ability, attentiveness, and memory throughout their lifetime. Choline supplementation led to increased birth rates and healthier babies, who did not experience the same cognitive decline with age as those not receiving choline. A pregnant mother’s extra intake of choline apparently helps produce a more efficient nervous system for her developing fetus, which in turn leads to superior brain health for the animal once it’s born. In conclusion, prenatal choline supplementation may have overall positive effects on attentiveness, learning, and cognition later in life. The findings could have a significant impact on human cognitive performance and brain health if they are applicable to humans.

Newborn infants need large amounts of the nutrient choline for normal growth and development. Normally choline is supplied in mother’s milk. This means that if a mother’s diet is low in choline, her breast milk will also be low in choline. If a mother doesn’t eat foods that are rich in choline, she might not give her child the amount of choline they need for proper brain development. She might also become deficient in choline herself.

Resistance Exercise to Improve Cognitive Function


In this article, long-term RE is defined as a program that lasts at least 24 weeks. The study by Cassilhas et al. (3) looked at the effect of high-intensity (80% of 1RM) and moderate-intensity (50% of 1RM) resistance exercise on cognitive function in 62 sedentary men aged 65 to 75 years. The study found that the experimental groups (those who exercised three times a week at high or moderate intensity) improved more than the control group (those who only warmed up and stretched once a week) in tests of 1RM strength, mood, and quality of life. The experimental groups also performed better on cognitive tests and had higher levels of IGF-1. Other studies have found that higher concentrations of IGF-1 in the periphery of the body might be responsible for increased cognitive performance. The authors of this study concluded that RE (regular exercise) had a positive impact on cognitive function in the elderly in both the moderate- and high-intensity groups (3).

A 52-week study was conducted by Liu-Ambrose et al. to determine the effects of RE on executive cognitive function of 155 women aged 65 to 75 years. The study found that once-weekly or twice-weekly RE can help improve executive cognitive function. The results of the study showed that doing RE just once a week can significantly improve executive function in women. The authors of the study noted that while the RE group had more musculoskeletal adverse events, this must be weighed against the fact that the group only required treatment once a week. Both RE groups showed a reduction in brain volume. The authors of the study were careful to note that the findings might be due to reduced levels of beta-amyloid, as has been reported in other studies of Alzheimer’s disease.


This article defines short-term RE as exercise consisting of 3 or fewer sessions. Chang et al. looked at how men’s and women’s cognitive abilities were affected by a short period of RE in a study. The study assessed the acute effects of RE on cognitive function in 30 men and women aged 55 to 70 years. The subjects were given tests on three different occasions with varying treatments to reduce the effects of learning or boredom. The subjects performed 2 sets of 10 repetitions of 7 different exercises, at 70% of their 10-Repetition Maximum, in approximately 20-25 minutes. This was after a 10-minute warm-up.

The authors of this study concluded that while their behavioral measurements did suggest cognitive function changes as a result of acute exercise, they could not directly attribute these changes to any specific physiological mechanisms, as another study has done (5). The mechanisms the authors provided for the relationship between cognitive function and exercise are plausible, but more research is needed to understand how and why RE influences cognitive function. The study found that acute RE has positive effects on various aspects of mental function in older adults.

A study was conducted by Chang et al. of men and women aged 55 to 70 years, where the subjects were seen for three sessions separated by at least 48 hours. The study aimed to see how well late middle-aged adults performed on a neuropsychological assessment after doing whole-body RE, specifically the Tower of London task measuring planning and working memory (a part of executive function). The subjects performed seven repetitions of each of the 10 exercises at 70% of their 10-repetition maximum, for a total of 2 sets. The entire session, including the 10-minute warm-up, took approximately 20 minutes. According to the authors, the benefits of RE on cognition seen in this study may be explained by neurohormonal mechanisms (i.e., IGF-1). The study’s authors found that RE can change someone’s level of excitement and make them better at thinking tasks by affecting the way they think about what might happen, plan their moves, and pay attention.

The final study shows that RE improves cognitive function related to executive decisions. Chang and Etnier conducted a study of men and women where the subjects were seen for 2 visits. The aim of this study was to see how a single session of exercise affects cognitive function in 41 men and women aged between 35 and 65 years old. The study’s subjects lifted weights for two sets of 10 repetitions at 75% of their one-repetition maximum for each exercise in approximately 45 minutes.

Summary, The authors, found that acute RE was effective in increasing heart rate in the study. The study’s authors say that its results back up those of another study on the effects of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive function. That study showed that the increased heart rate that comes with exercise may be behind the improvement in cognitive function. The authors came to the conclusion that a single session of RE improved cognitive function in middle-aged adults. More research is needed to figure out if a higher heart rate, which could cause more blood flow to the brain or more of certain types of proteins in the blood, is a way that exercise might improve thinking skills.


You will age more slowly if you take care of yourself and live a healthy lifestyle. The longer you smoke, the more disabled you will become, both physically and mentally. You will become sluggish and forgetful, and life will seem less and less worth living. There are things you can do to improve your health by making lifestyle changes, eating the right foods, and taking supplements.


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