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Latest Brainpower Research

Here is some of the latest brainpower news and research, as reported on in the various scientific journals, as well as newspapers, magazines and web sites.

Belief in Past Lives Linked to Memory Problems

A new study from Maastricht University in The Netherlands, finds that those who believe they lived past lives are more likely to have some types of memory mistakes. The subjects were people who had come to believe they had lived past lives after hypnotic therapies. It is speculated that the tendency to make these errors makes people more likely to believe reincarnation claims.

Researchers had subjects recite a list of names of people who were not famous. Then, after two hours, they were shown another list of names. Some of these were the names (non-famous) they had seen, some were names of famous people, and others names of non-famous people that weren't on the recited list. The subjects were told to identify the famous people on the list.

When compared to subjects who didn't believe in reincarnation (the control subjects), those who thought they had lived past lives misidentified names almost twice as often. Specifically, the problem was in identifying as famous the names of non-famous people that were on the first list. This is referred to as a source-monitoring error. In other words, they didn't really know where the memory came from.

Other research has found that those who believe they were abducted by aliens also commit twice as many source monitoring errors. Interestingly, Marten Peters, lead researcher of the study at Maastricht University, found that such errors may be due in part to vivid imagery skills. He found that people who have problems with source monitoring tend to be more creative on average.

Vitamin C Protects Brainpower

Get enough vitamin C. It's an important antioxidant that can stop free radicals from damaging the brain. Research done at Johns Hopkins University showed that taking vitamins C and E cut the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's by 64% four years into the study.

Move Your Eyes to Improve Memory

Recent research shows that moving your eyes from side-to-side for 30 seconds may help your memory. The movements may cause the left and right hemispheres of the brain to communicate more effectively. This may be helpful for recalling some types of memories.

The research, done at the Manchester Metropolitan University in England, tested people to see if these horizontal eye movements would help in recognition of words they had just seen. Subjects were divided into three groups, all of which heard a list of words read to them. One group then was prompted to move their eyes back and forth for 30 seconds, another up and down for 30 seconds, and the third group did nothing.

Afterwards, all subjects were given a list of words and asked to identify the ones on the list that they had just heard. Those who did the horizontal eye movements recognized 10% more words on average. They also made 15% fewer "false recognitions, or "source monitoring errors" (see the last news item). The latter had been encouraged with the use of "lure" words. These were words that were not in the original reciting, but were hinted at (for example, "red, juicy, fruit" - hinting at "apple", which was on the later list).

Can moving your eyes back and forth help you remember someone's name or where you put your wallet? While that hasn't been tested, it can't hurt to try.

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