Sam Bauman: Stored memory slows computers, senior brains
For the Nevada Appeal
Computers read and store memory. And learn. Researchers found that when computers are programmed only to read and not store, tests show its performance was like that of young adults, says a report in the Journal Topics in Cognitive Science. But when it had stored memory for long periods of time its performance was like that of an older adult. Often it was slower but its processing ability had not declined. But its database had grown, and it took the computer longer to process the larger database. That takes time.
Technology now allows researchers to estimate how many words a person will learn in a lifetime. This allows the university scientists to challenge the increased knowledge poses to memory from the actual performance of memory itself.
“Imagine someone who knows two people’s birthdays and can recall them almost perfectly; you really want to say that person has a better memory than a person who knows the birthdays of 2,000 people, but can ‘only’ match the right person to the right birthday nine times out of 10?” asks the university study boss Michael Ramscar of the study in Science Daily.
The answer appears to be “no.” When Ramscar’s team trained their computers models on data, they found vocabulary tests, used to take account of the growth of knowledge in studies of aging, massively underestimate the size of adult vocabularies. It takes computers longer to search databases of words as their sizes grow, which is hardly surprising but may have important implications for our understanding of age.
To get their computers to replicate human performance in word recognition tests across adulthood, they had to keep their capacities the same.
“The brains of older people do not get weak,” Ramscar said in the article. “On the contrary, they simply know more.”
Sort of reassuring news for seniors — our brains are not slowing down, they just have a lot more to read.
For more on the study visit http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/en/landingpage.html. For more on the article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140120090415.htm
TURNING BACK THE CLOCK
For several years the Mile High Jazz Band has been playing at Comma Coffee, indoors or on the patio. The music is big band stuff of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, familiar names to seniors. Last Tuesday, it was a concert of “Light and Day,” combining the music with local poets reading their works or favorite other poets.
The 17-piece band, led by David Bugli, backed up vocalists Sheryl Adams and Cindee LaVal, with June Joplin (owner of Comma Coffee) tending the outdoor bar.
Entrance is only $5 with those 18 and under free. While most of the band is veterans, one bass trombone player is the youthful Stephanie Reynolds. She plays a mean 7th trombone position. Next concert is Tuesday, Oct. 7, Autumn Jazz.
UP WITH VITAMIN D
Lots of comments on the Internet about vitamin D slowing dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In the summer, we often get all the vitamin D we need for exposure to the sun. But in winter we cover up and get less D. Lots of other benefits from Vitamin D but don’t overdo it. Check the FDA for recommended dosage.
And speaking of Alzheimer’s, the Reno-Sparks alz.org/walk will take place Sept. 27, starting at the Sparks Marina. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
HEALTH TIPS FROM CONSUMER REPORTS
Seems that not only olive oil is good for you, but try safflower and sunflower oils.
And for those with blood pressure problems, get into potassium. Potassium helps in the battle against high blood pressure. Potassium in your food helps get rid of sodium and protects the cells that line the walls of your blood vessels. Also reduce loss of bone, kidney stones, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.