Working under high pressure almost always goes hand-in-hand with a decrease of performance in comparison to low-pressure situations, says Adjunct Associate Professor Lesley Braun, director, Blackmores Institute.
Speaking to pharmacists at a Blackmores CPD-accredited talk at Doltone House, Sydney, Prof Braun says skill failure under pressure relates to “blocking up” with thoughts and worries which limits the capacity of working memory .
Normal ageing is globally associated with performance declines on various tasks which include working memory, attention and auditory processing. Further, the impact of ageing on brain functions is likely to be most obvious in sub-optimal conditions such as a noisy environment, she says.
“In a recent study on working memory and noise younger volunteers performed better in a noisy environment than older people who performed better in a quiet environment.”
Prof Braun says that physical activity, and not a lot of it either, may slow effects of ageing on cognitive function—but its effect is short-lived.
“10 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise improves attentional control but is best combined with other cognitive function enhancing elements,” she says.
Epidemiological studies suggest that dietary curcumin is associated with better cognitive function and a lower prevalence of dementia. Regular consumption of curcumin has been related to better cognitive function in the elderly, says Prof Braun.
She cites a correlation between curry consumption and cognitive level was identified studying a sample of more than 1,000 Asians from their 60s to their 90s, concluding that people on a curry diet performed better on a standard test (mini mental state examination) of cognitive function than those who never or rarely ate curry.
Curcumin was tested on those aged 60–85, one dose a day, before lunch verses a placebo and showed immediate cognitive effect between 1– 3 hours after supplementation. Overall, working memory and sustained attention were the cognitive processes most enhanced.
After four weeks of continued use, there was a significant reduction in fatigue and improved resilience to the detrimental impact of cognitive stress on mood, says Prof Braun.
Curcumin is non-toxic to humans in doses up to 8,000mg/day when taken by mouth for three months, she says.
Moving on to the topic of microbiota, Prof Braun says it is found nearly everywhere in the human body, and bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a very common vaginal infection affecting 20% of women of reproductive age. After BV, vulvovaginal candidiasis affects about 40% of women with vaginal complaints.
The most frequently used strains of lactobacilli in therapy for these conditions are a combination of L.rhamnosus GR-1 and lactobacillus fermentation RC-14 (now called reuteri) but they should be taken orally alongside any antibiotics for 30 days to help reduce yeast load, she tells delegates.