Tricks to improve your memory
Where does the widespread mania come from to capture everything that happens to us in some imperishable manner? Whether it's done by paintings, books or photos it seems that human beings have the need to record what he does and says. As Umberto Eco taught us, "From the rose, only the name is left naked" and society lives with the fear that that name does not prevail in history. This may be an outsourcing of the storage system that everyone has in their brain, memory.
It could be said that memory is a capacity that grants our minds to recover images, situations, sensations or information that we have lived in the past and have needed again for some reason. Memory is a survival mechanism that allows us to use our experiences to avoid repeating the same mistakes and to continue progressing. Although memory storage is often talked about, what memory actually does is reproduce the electrochemical stimuli that the brain received at the time it is being remembered to produce the same response. Our senses, thoughts, and even our dreams are recorded through neuronal connections waiting to take action.
The brain uses different types of memories (short-term, long-term, olfactory, procedural, photographic, declarative) that act simultaneously and are interconnected to achieve better functioning and faster responses. However, this block operation tends to cause some non-relative memories to be introduced into the one we are interested in or there are gaps in information that the brain itself fills in and provides memories that do not represent the reality as it was. Problems of tiredness, stress, or poor emotional or psychological response can cause certain memories we still have to become blocked and inaccessible for a while.
Shakespeare used to say that memory is the sentinel of the brain, and just as it cares for our mind, we must take care of it. Exercises, mental games, nutrient-rich diets, or healthy lifestyles are some of the many aspects we need to watch out for to keep our memory healthy and fit. A few tricks that will help us take care of our invisible sentry.
Memory works like a filing cabinet. If you are used to using mnemonic rules it will cost you much less to speed up the process of finding what you are looking for. So, using associations that are comfortable with concepts we want to learn has turned out to be an excellent strategy to accustom our memory to quickly regain what we already know. Associating numbers with rhyming words could be the most basic example (one-sun; two-shoe, etc). These kinds of tricks, as several studies published in the journal Neuron have shown, operate several different brain areas of the hippocampus, such as the perirhinal cortex that plays a key role in visual recognition.
A trick within everyone’s reach. A research carried out by the University of Montclair (USA) and published in the magazine Plos One, revealed that clenching the right fist for 90 seconds helps in the process of memory formation. On the other hand, clenching the left fist also facilitates the recovery of information stored in our memory.
Everything we undertake to improve our memory will bear fruit. Practicing 15 minutes a day of brain training games, improves the performance of working memory, executive functions and processing speed, according to a study published in the magazine Plos One.
A research carried out by the University of California, Santa Barbara (USA), showed that with two weeks of training in what is known as "mindfulness", it is possible to markedly improve reading comprehension, the capacity of working memory and concentration. Meditation is therefore a powerful tool to help us strengthen memory.
It looks like a simple gesture, but it’s completely effective. A study carried out by a team of scientists from the University of Surrey (UK) with 178 participants, concluded that we remember up to 23% more effectively (we remember the details more precisely). The study was published in the magazine Journal of Criminal Psychology.
The components of the coffee not only wake us up and make us feel more active, but also reinforce the memory. The culprit is caffeine and according to a study developed by Johns Hopkins University (USA) and published in the magazine Nature Neuroscience, drinking coffee right after facing a major work reinforces our memory. "This is the first time that this effect of caffeine has been observed to reduce forgetfulness a day after ingesting it," explains Michael Yassa, study leader.
Although it is still in the experimental phase, a new research from the University of Tübingen (Germany) and collected by the magazine Neuron has discovered that the reproduction during sleep of sounds synchronized with the rhythm of slow brain oscillations increases memory.
Moderate intensity exercise helps to memorize what you’ve learned before. This is attested by a recent study conducted by the University of California (USA) in which volunteers between the ages of 50 and 85 participated and demonstrated the goodness of being physically active. The experiment consisted of seeing pleasurable images, then pedalling on a stationary bike for 6 minutes at 70% of its capacity and then, an hour later, perform a surprise examination for the images they had visualized before exercising. The results showed that the release of norepinephrine, which is induced by physical exercise, caused a striking improvement in memory compared to those who did not exercise.
If a restful sleep every night is already one of the elements to be taken into account for our memory, napping also helps. Sleeping 20 minutes of nap each day helps us remember what we learned more efficiently, because whilst we rest we consolidate what we learned without realizing it. This is beneficial at any age.
Is chocolate good for memory? Yes. Several studies published in the magazine British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology have concluded that one of the components of cocoa, flavonols, is related to improved cognitive performance. This is because it stimulates cerebral perfusion, promote neurogenesis and promote changes in areas related to learning and memory.
If you have insomnia problems or have trouble sleeping regularly, you should know that both are major obstacles if you want to have the memory equivalent to a dolphin’s (their memory is better than elephants). So, investing in sleeping well a young age has proven to be the best instrument to have better memory during old age, according to a study published in the magazine Sleep. In the research, which lasted several decades, the study volunteers (around middle aged) who slept the right hours, had better memory 30 years later, than those who did not sleep enough all these years. Furthermore, we must not forget that good sleep usually has a direct benefit on memory and learning.
Socializing with others, whether they are friends, family or just acquaintances, has been associated with a better memory. This is proven by a study of Australian researchers published in the magazine Journal of Aging Research which showed that participants who had greater contact with close friends, an important social network, had a better performance in memory tests after a 15-year follow-up.
We are what we eat and our memory is directly affected by the food we eat. Numerous studies support the idea that the ketogenic diet, high in fat and protein and low in carbohydrates, helps to improve mental concentration and memory. Foods such as green vegetables, oily fish, nuts, or flavonoid-rich fruits also contain nutrients and substances that prevent brain damage and enhance memory.
They say the best way to learn is to have fun and it seems that this statement is more truthful than it might seem. The information that we find funny or the memories of moments that have made us laugh are much better instilled in the brain and remain much longer. Laughing and enjoying the moment will make our brain activate and preserve memories much more vividly.
Let’s save the multitasking for the computers. Although our brain is able to handle several activities simultaneously, it tends to make us more clumsy, inefficient, and ultimately slower. Focusing all our attention on a single task will make it much better and make the process clearer in the memory. Sometimes less is more.
A study conducted by the University of California, Santa Cruz (USA) published in 2014 in Psychological Science states that storing information on a computer can improve our memory. According to the results obtained, this act of storing information that we contain in our brain in a computer or other device causes the release of cognitive resources that will be used to memorize new information. In this case, the forgetfulness of certain information caused by the fact that we know that it is still available facilitates the process of learning and memorisation of new information.
The more we train our brains, the further we’ll be able to carry our limits. There are countless games, problems and tricks that improve memory and can be performed in almost any situation. Repeating what we learned aloud, rhyming, practicing new activities that motivate us or associating ideas with codes or images will bring out the hidden potential of our mind.