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Using typing speed and accuracy to measure brain function

I’ve been playing with typing tests for about a year as a way to measure my brain function. I think that typing is a unique test because it uses parts of the brain that I consider important. The hipppocampus and cerebellum.

The cerebellum is known for it’s involvement in motor control and the hippocampus in short and long term memory and spacial awareness. The deterioration of these areas of the brain also happen to be involved in things like dementia and thyroid malfunction.

Some things I’ve noticed. Butter, chocolate, cigarettes, thyroid hormone (or thyroid supporting substances), and fatty cuts of pork (probably the glycine, although I haven’t tested with gelatin) tends to improve both my speed and accuracy. Significantly.

It seems that all these substances seem to have immediate boosting effects. Pork fat seems to have a longer lasting effect in that you don’t seem to need to eat it every day to maintain a result. Pork seems to outperform butter in the lasting effect, and chocolate seems to be like octane. Stearic acid has many neuroprotective effects which high fat chocolate is rich in. Butter seems to have more a calming effect (reduced stress?) which allows better brain function.

Cigarettes seem to work best on a high fat diet where complex I is fairly inactive anyway.

My guess besides having favorable affects on mitochondria is that all these substances (aside from the pork) also seem to modulate LPS (endotoxin) in appropriate ways. That does not necessarily mean decreasing or lowering LPS but rather modulating it in favorable ways. LPS seems to be more complicated than a more or less scenario.

There is some room in here for tight junctions and calcium channeling but other things to do at the moment.

References

Cormier, A., Morin, C., Zini, R., Tillement, J.-P., & Lagrue, G. (2001). In vitro effects of nicotine on mitochondrial respiration and superoxide anion generation. Brain Research, 900(1), 72–79. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006899301022545

Gray, R., Rajan, A., Radcliffe, K., Yakehiro, M., & Dani, J. (1996). Hippocampal synaptic transmission enhanced by low concentrations of nicotine. Nature. Retrieved from http://neuro.bcm.edu/_web/danilab/files/383713a0.pdf

Hogan, M. J., Staff, R. T., Bunting, B. P., Murray, A. D., Ahearn, T. S., Deary, I. J., & Whalley, L. J. (2011). Cerebellar brain volume accounts for variance in cognitive performance in older adults. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 47(4), 441–50. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2010.01.001

Wang, J., Kim, J.-M., Donovan, D. M., Becker, K. G., & Li, M. D. (2009). Significant modulation of mitochondrial electron transport system by nicotine in various rat brain regions. Mitochondrion, 9(3), 186–95. doi:10.1016/j.mito.2009.01.008

Wang, Z.-J., Liang, C.-L., Li, G.-M., Yu, C.-Y., & Yin, M. (2007). Stearic acid protects primary cultured cortical neurons against oxidative stress. Acta pharmacologica Sinica, 28(3), 315–26. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7254.2007.00512.x

11 comments… add one
  • Jake 08/10/2013, 2:34 am

    Cigarettes are something that I have been on the fence about myself. I think the most interesting aspect is the aromatase inhibiting properties:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2098524
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8313352

    And the obvious observation that a lot of centenarians seem to smoke heavily, although I wonder if it is the benefits of cigarettes that contribute to their longevity or the care-free attitude towards life.

  • Edward 08/10/2013, 8:56 am

    I have seen the second study but had not come across the first one. Thanks.

    I think that cigarettes are probably harmless. And it probably is both factors you mention that contribute to centenarians long life: both the benefits of tobacco and the approach to life. Or maybe it’s the cigarettes that facilitate that? I’m sure it helps.

    What I don’t know is if the additives in cigarettes are harmful. But it is probably best to smoke the additive free ones.

  • Mitchell 09/10/2013, 1:57 pm

    Seems like a good idea to me. Any online typing tests you are partial to?

  • Gabriel 09/10/2013, 3:29 pm

    In contrast to other meats, pork is very rich in thiamine, which may mediate the effects you observed.

  • James 14/12/2013, 12:49 pm

    Edward, I think it’d be very interesting if you mentioned how you got to smoke initially: what is recreational (not much thinking into it), or after making an informed decision and getting convinced it might be harmless/beneficial in some conditions? If it’s the latter case, it’d be fascinating to know what was your initial intuition that caused you to look into it and question the bad things we hear about smoking. Is it a similar argument to sugar, coffee and sun rays? All three can be bad if poorly nourished (pufa, iron, lack of energy), but if well nourished the benefits could compensate for the side effects.

    My (vague) understanding of the subject is that there are a lot of population studies out there who tend to show that smoking is a great risk factor, even after controlling for variables such as lifestyle, wealth, education.

  • Edward 24/12/2013, 1:05 am

    I started smoking because I found it eliminated my asthma symptoms. Initially I was concerned about long term effects. I didn’t grow up in a smoking household but I couldn’t figure out for the life of me why tobacco smoke smelt good to me and I wanted to know so I tried it. Smoking helping asthma is counter intuitive obviously. And it is probably not right for everyone. But in my specific case I’ve found the literature convincing as far as the positive effects on the immune system, endotoxin, effects on estrogen, vagus nerve stimulation, and brain health (memory and learning).

    I’ve done a lot of autopsies, and I’ve had access to case reports and whether or not people smoked, and I’ve never seen “black lungs”, which makes me think that the pictures you see for anti-smoking campaigns are actually minors (as in workers who dig up minerals under ground) lungs.

    Smoking is one of those issues though that even if you can show good evidence for the positive benefits people just say your justifying addiction. Obviously I’m biased because of the positive effects it has had for me so I’m not in the best position to debate it, but I will say it is definitely not a source of stress for me in my mind/world.

  • James 29/12/2013, 6:59 pm

    The effect on hormones and immune system are interesting, but I feel like those are short-term reactions to smoking. Is there a mechanism for a healthy body to eliminate unwanted chemicals like cadmium that get in? I’ve been asking myself that question in the context of diseases where heavy metals accumulate in the brain.

  • James 10/01/2014, 11:33 pm

    Thanks. Since that protein is said to bind to other heavy metals too like mercury, why are heavy metals even a concern? Or would you say that for example eating fish with high mercury levels okay as long as one has adequate minerals and therefore able to synthetise metallothionein?

  • Edward 22/03/2014, 6:10 pm

    There is a protein called metallothionein that binds to heavy metals such as cadmium. However, metallothionein synthesis depends on adequate zinc, copper, and selenium.

  • Edward 14/06/2014, 12:14 am
  • Elliott English 30/11/2016, 7:27 am

    Edward, I just found your website… looking forward to a lot more reading. I think you might consider breaking out the different effects of smoking i.e. O2 reduction Bohr effect (Buteyko style – also reduces asthma), and also the most likely health benefit is from nicotine. The rest is probably a cost. Have you ever tried your typing tests with LSD microdoses?

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