WORDS

IMG_1304Source of image and video: Nature – International weekly journal of science 

Another great “Brain Day”!

I particularly like to write about fun and rewarding happenings in our Connections program. Last Thursday provided us all, Club members and volunteers alike, with fascinating new information as to how our amazing brain works, and how it handles “words”.

Here is a paragraph written by one of the Club members incorporating eight words that we were all given to use, namely GO, NIGHT, DREAM, SUMMER, BIG, BUTTERFLY GARDEN, WIND:

One summer night I had a dream that I was outside in my Mother’s flower garden. I looked over and there was a big Monarch butterfly making its rounds to every flower. All  of a sudden a big wind came up and the butterfly had to go on its way so it wouldn’t get hurt.

I should add that I have faithfully copied this gentleman’s written word including his punctuation!

Here is a second paragraph from a lady Club member:

It was a black summer night. I was walking through the garden and saw a big beautiful butterfly. I asked the butterfly, “what are you doing out at night? Wait a minute, is this a dream? Butterflies don’t fly at night”! Said the butterfly “Well I am a very special butterfly and it’s a nice night to go out because there is no wind. But I’m tired now, so let’s both go back to our dreams”.

Again I have included the author’s precise punctuation.

My abiding recollection from days like these is the sheer effort that the Club members make to contribute, and to read and/or discuss their own ideas.

Cathee Stegall, our Program Director and Memory Care Specialist kept us fully engaged for all five hours, describing in easily understood terms the science of neuroplasticity. Even though the brain is made up of different regions, each associated with different functions such as reasoning, emotion and balance, Cathee explained that there is no one region of the brain that processes and stores all the words and concepts in our vocabulary.

For example if you hear the word “top”, a small area of the brain called the middle frontal gyrus will light up in recognition. However other regions of the brain will also light up depending on the context in which the word is used. So think of the brain as an atlas where one person might think of the word “top” as a peak, others a toy, or another an exam result. In each case the region of the brain responding to the word might be different. The brain really is so smart. It uses neurons in just about every pocket and fold to organize the meaning of words into logical groups. So words like “Mother”, “Father” and “family” are in one group area and next door you might find “home”, “owner” and “tenant”.

Here is an interesting brief explanatory video. The Brain Dictionary.

Last Thursday at Connections we had a lot of fun interpreting words in different ways. If you want to experience interaction and engagement in practice, participate in a Connections class! As usual this group of people had some surprisingly lateral thoughts! They all attend our Connections program to stretch their minds, and keep them as young as possible. I have known some Club members now for over two and  a half years. They joined long before I started volunteering, and they and their care givers have all have benefited from their weekly or twice weekly (Tuesday and Thursday) brain exercise in our failure free environment. There is clear evidence to show that brain wellness programs can succeed in combating symptoms of an early diagnosis of dementia, mild memory loss or mild cognitive impairment.

Cathee is currently developing new, and exciting additions to our popular Brain Boosters program and receiving much appreciated help and guidance from Memory Matters friend and contributor, Dr. Lisa Schrott (Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care at the Hilton Head Island First Presbyterian church) herself an expert in neuroplasticity. Cathee also benefits from her close colleagues input, all who have contributed to and/or led a Brain Boosters program. So I recognize here, Karen, Ashley, and Melissa too.

Remember we have a Brain Boosters class starting on September 18th at Memory Matters facility on Hilton Head Island, and another commencing on September 21st at Hampton Lake in Bluffton. Both run for 8 sessions for two hours on the same day each week. The cost is only $199 for all 8 sessions. More details can be found on our website or at the end of this blog.

As my readers know, we often lapse into song and on this occasion the key words I mentioned earlier led to impromptu renditions of Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” and the Everly Brothers “Dream”. Later we sang “Words” by the Bee Gees.

Talk in everlasting words
And dedicate them all to me
And I will give you all my life
I’m here if you should call to me

You think that I don’t even mean
A single word I say

It’s only words, and words are all I have
To take your heart away

For information about Memory Matters including a free of charge memory test,

1 843 842 6688. All calls are treated with confidentiality.

Vision: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness.

Mission: Memory Matters optimizes brain wellness and memory care through education, programs, and support for individuals, care-givers in the Low Country community.

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