5-23-12: Mastering Your Memory

May 23, 2012 at 9:00 am 3 comments

The location of the hippocampus in the brain. CREDIT: Creative Commons Wikipedia

Dr. Majid Fotuhi, chairman and medical director of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Fitness, believes if you only take care of your body, your memory will respond.

Today, he explains to Sheilah his ideas about diet and exercise and the impact they have on the size of the hippocampus.

On June 2, Dr. Fotuhi will run a one day Memory Boot Camp at the Maryland Science Center to help people put these ideas into practice.

Entry filed under: Health, On Air. Tags: , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nicholas Gaiano  |  May 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    I found this program to be somewhat irritating and to miss a critical point with respect to how we present cause and effect science to the public. I am an Associate Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, although I am a basic scientist with a PhD and not an MD degree (note: I have never met Dr. Fotuhi; the department is large and not entirely centralized).

    First of all, I had issues with the guest as poorly representing the scientific community. He referred to publishing his “research” in Nature Reviews Neurology. However, with extremely rare exception, primary research is not published in reviews journals (and when it is, it is usually orphaned data that did not fit well into other primary research papers). Furthermore, later in the program he refers to his publication in “Nature,” when apparently referring to this same article (according to PubMed, Dr. Fotuhi has not published anything in Nature for the past 20 years). This is gross misrepresentation (which from what I can hear in the interview sounds perhaps intentional). Nature is a premier science weekly, while the many Nature Publishing Group (NPG) journals (like Nat Reviews Neurol, where Dr. Fotuhi published his recent literature review) vary widely in content and stature. To refer to a publication in any one of the NPG journals as a paper in “Nature” is akin to lying on your resume/CV.

    Also frustrating was Dr. Fotuhi’s comment that DHA is “the best brain food ever.” Not only does this comment sounds like a grade school child talking about a much adored new video game, but he grossly over-simplifies the fact that the brain is an exceptionally complex structure with thousands of biological processes working in integrated fashion to create proper function. The notion that any one compound is the “best ever” for the brain is ridiculous. I have no doubt that there are advantages to the brain from DHA, but Dr. Fotuhi’s statement does a disservice to the brain in terms of it’s complexity, and also seems somewhat insulting to Maryland Morning listeners, since he does not give them credit enough to understand complex problems.

    This latter point brings me to my primary issue with the interview, which is that Dr. Fotuhi continually suggested that brain size (in particular that of the hippocampus) is a critical element with respect to memory function. However, what he actually discussed were correlative findings. Various activities that can improve memory also lead to increased hippocampal size. But what is the evidence that increased size is somehow causal? My guess is that Dr. Fotuhi does not think it is, and that he understands hippocampal size is likely to simply be a measurable correlate of more subtle cellular changes in the hippocampus that improve memory (alterations in neuronal connectivity, circuit complexity, adult neurogenesis, etc),
    but that also lead to increased size. He did the program and its listeners a substantial disservice by not providing a somewhat more sophisticated view of the issues at hand, and of how scientists make discerning evaluations of what certain types of studies can and cannot tell us. His depictions of this science felt almost caveman-esque… “Brain big… good; brain small… bad.”

    Reply
  • 2. bita_v@yahoo.com  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I actually lisetened to this radio interview and found it very interesting and informative.

    Reply
  • 3. bita_v@yahoo.com  |  June 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I found the interview very impressive. His interview was complete and he explained everything on simple fact for viewers who don’t have medical background like me. His credentials are very lofty. I always follow his advice and trust him very much.

    Reply

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