Memory and Cognition

All but our most primitive responses require memory. Our very consciousness, perceiving, thinking and feeling- all depend on our ability to store and use information about our past each day.  Learning and memory are not static or fixed processes but dynamic processes that continue to change over the course of time (Ettinger and Jackson,2012).  As such, our thinking- a collection of internal processes directed toward solving a problem- can also be seen as having the ability to change and grow over time. Our ability to think allows us to put what we have learned to use. PranaMind solutions are geared toward enhancing this very important process.

The brain’s ability to change with learning is plasticity. There appears to be at least two types of modifications that occur in the brain with learning (Durbach, 2000).

  1. A change in the internal structure of the neurons, the most notable being in the area of synapses—neuroplasticity.
  2. An increase in the number of synapses between neurons—neurogenesis.

Initially, newly learned data are “stored” in short-term memory, which is a temporary ability to recall a few pieces of information.  Concepts related to short-term memory include

  1. Short-term memory depends upon electrical and chemical events in the brain as opposed to structural changes such as the formation of new synapses.
  2. Memories may be caused by “reverberating” neuronal circuits — that is, an incoming nerve impulse stimulates the first neuron which stimulates the second, and so on, with branches from the second neuron synapsing with the first.
  3. After a period of time, information may be moved into a more permanent type of memory storage, long-term memory, which is the result of anatomical or biochemical changes that occur in the brain (Tortora and Grabowski, 1996).

Thinking processes incorporate key elements of attention (focus, selective attention), memory (working memory and recall) and executive functions (planning, flexibility). These elements are the foundation of our ability to reflect on the consequences of our actions and to plan ahead. Brain systems involved in cognition include feedback between higher and lower-level neural networks. These very important systems are also impacted by training and experience throughout our life.

Contemporary studies show support for the relationship between efficient working memory, attentional-control, and cognitive performance outcomes (e.g., general intelligence, reading comprehension, SAT scores).

Research in cognition has shown:

  1. That the ability to focus and control attention accounted for approximately 62% of subjects novel problem solving or fluid intelligence.
  2. That executive functions accounted for approximately 13 % of fluid reasoning.
  3. That working memory capacity impacted attentional control, which in turn had an effect on everyday attention failures, which in turn had a significant impact on SAT scores.
  4. That reading comprehension was directly impacted by both working memory capacity and mind wandering (defined as task unrelated thoughts—T_U_T_’s_). Chuderski and Necka (2012); Unsworth et al. (2012) Kane and McVay (2012)

These studies, which focused primarily on attentional control, mind wandering, and working memories impact on cognitive outcomes, reinforce a large body of intelligence research which has suggested that working memory, when defined more globally, has a strong causal and direct influence on general intelligence and fluid reasoning (Ackerman, Beier & Boyle, 2005; Colom, Rebello, Palacios, Juan-Esinosa & Kyllonen , 2004; Conway, Kane & Engle, 2003; Kyllonen & Christal, 1990; McGrew, 2005). The theoretical and empirical link between efficient working memory capacity and cognitive performance is clear.

PranaMind creates efficient, noninvasive solutions for developing executive functioning as well as impacting brain structure and function.