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Cognitive Enhancement

Memory loss is a state that begins to affect the brain 30 – 40 years before symptoms begin to occur, because of that, it is important that we begin a program for the prevention of cognitive decline early in life. Benefits of beginning a program include improvements in memory, concentration, learning ability, reduced risk of dementia, and an increase in personal awareness that, in turn lead to feelings of being a part of something larger than oneself.

Cognitive Enhancement is known as a multi-systemic approach in prevention and treatment of cognitive decline that is normally associated with aging and degenerative diseases related to aging. As with many degenerative diseases of the mind, memory loss may appear as a spectrum of symptoms, etiologies, and prognosis. Over 55 disease states, many non-progressives can be attributed to memory loss. Dementias manifests in a variety of forms including vascular disorders, Parkinson’s disease, infections including HIV, depression, hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiency, malnutrition, and substance abuse.

Risk factors are many, and they interact with other biological processes in causing cognitive decline. Increased age, family history, genetic factors, head injury, educational level, cardiovascular disease, and chronic stress are only some of the reasons that one may see increased cognitive decline. The pathology of cognitive decline is variable, but what is clear is that the common denominator is the death of the brain cell.

Treatment programs are multidimensional in their approach and seek to improve memory and brain function while utilizing integrated therapies. Programs include nutrition enhancement through dietary modification and nutritional supplementation with elements such as anti-oxidants, Phosphatidyl-serine, CoQ10, and Ginkgo Biloba. Stress reduction through meditation, mind/body exercises, hormone replacement therapy, and the use of pharmaceutical agents are also used in cognitive enhancement therapy.

With the advent of a new series of drugs known as "smart drugs", they too are integrated into the treatment program. Drug that mimic neuro-growth factors and may stimulate development of new synapses are in full use now. It helps in the promotion of inter-hemispheric communication. The uses of pharmaceutical drugs that help remove intracellular debris, the oxygenation of the brain, and in maintenance of the balance of neurotransmitters are said to be a vital part of the treatment. Hormones like melatonin, estrogen, DHEA, and human growth hormone may help to improve memory function.

The human brain is like any muscle in the body. With most muscles, it is either ones use it or it begins its slow decline. Once treatment begins, it may be possible to increase IQ 4-5% in the first year, and perhaps 2-3% per year thereafter. While this may not be enough to make one feel smarter, testing will show a definitive improvement. The most important factor is the increased sense of being in control of your mental capacity and self-knowledge that really solidifies why one should seek out treatment for cognitive dysfunction before one is forced to.

"Cognitive Enhancement." 2011: 1. Web. 9/15/11.
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