Basic Brain Processes Responsible for Cognitive Function
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When you think about your cognitive function, your focus is likely on things like how well you pay attention or are able to rely on your memory. Behind the scenes, there are a number of processes that are occurring to ensure that you are cognitively healthy and functional. Understanding these processes is important because it helps you know how to eat and do other things that ensure that you are cognitively fit.
Glial Cell and Neuron Energy Metabolism
Your brain needs a lot of energy for its individual cells to work at an efficient level and the primary nutrient responsible for keeping energy high is glucose. Now, for the brain to properly oxidize glucose, it needs several other nutrients to help it, including:
· Pantothenic acid
· Lipoic acid
Look for foods that contain these nutrients, especially when you are feeling cognitively sluggish. This will help to send your brain the help it needs to get a boost in energy, which in turn, boosts cognitive function.
Synthesis of Neurotransmitters
Neurotransmitters are a type of brain chemical that either inhibit or excite a process. You have probably heard of epinephrine and serotonin and both of these are a type of neurotransmitter classified as biogenic amines. There are also amino acids, another class of neurotransmitter. These chemicals must work effectively to ensure that things like memory are efficient. A number of nutrients are critical for these chemicals, including:
· B vitamins
· Vitamin C
Adequate Cerebral Blood Supply
All of the organs in your body require an adequate blood supply to work efficiently and the brain is no different. When you are looking at your cardiac output, you will see that your brain is getting about 15 percent of it as long as everything is working as it should. As long as this blood supply is adequate, your brain is getting all of the nutrients that it requires for optimal cognitive function. The blood is also responsible for delivering things like glucose and oxygen to your brain.
Neurotransmitters Have to Bind to Receptors
The cell membrane has receptors and the neurotransmitters have to bind to these to work. Within a cell, this can cause metabolic changes or ion channel openings. This essentially leads to the neurons firing so that a number of cognitive activities are able to occur. Some research shows that when it comes to postsynaptic receptors, the binding of neurotransmitters may be influenced by certain vitamin, specifically vitamin B6.
In this instance there are two forms of this vitamin that may aid in the binding process, including pyridoxal phosphate and pyridoxal. Since B vitamins plan such a crucial role in overall brain health and cognitive function, it is critical that you incorporate foods that contain these vitamins into your diet on a daily basis.
Metabolism of Homocysteine
Homocysteine is a type of amino acid that contain sulfur and it plays a major role in the metabolism of methionine, another type of amino acid that contains sulfur. When levels of homocysteine are high, it may increase the risk of certain conditions that can impair someone’s cognitive function, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A number of vitamins work to regulate the levels of this amino acid so that it is not able to increase and remain at levels that can cause problems that can lead to cognitive function issues. These include:
· Vitamin B12
· Vitamin B6
The Propagation of Nerve Impulses
Nerve impulse propagation has a lot to do with nerve myelination, or the process that occurs to place a protective covering around certain nerves. When the nerves have adequate protective covering, nerve impulses are able to travel efficiently and rapidly, ensuring that your cognitive abilities can occur without difficulty or interruption. There are a few nutrients that can affect this process so that your nerves have the right insulation and protection, ensuring proper nerve impulse transmission. These nutrients include:
· Vitamin B12
Do not let all of this information overwhelm you. You already know that the brain is a highly complex organ that pulls off truly amazing feats on a daily basis. However, now you have a basic understanding of how the brain does this. Use this information to your advantage so that you can fuel your brain and keep your cognitive function at a high level.