A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you’re a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age, there are lots of things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance.
The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.
The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age. These 11 tips can show you how:
1. Concentrate for 8 seconds
In the modern world everything seems to move too fast, and we don’t really even have time to stop and concentrate on something. However when you need to remember something, try to focus and concentrate on it for 8 seconds at least. According to the science, 8 seconds is the minimum of time that takes a piece of information to move from short-term memory to long one.
2. Don’t walk through a doorway
We’ve all walked into a room and suddenly realized we can’t remember why we needed to be there in the first place. Don’t worry, you’re not getting more forgetful—chances are it was the act of walking through a doorway that made you go completely blank. Researchers found that participants in both virtual and real-world studies were far more likely to forget what object they had just placed in a container if they were asked right after walking through a doorway than if they carried the object the same distance in a single room. Scientists have yet to figure out why, but something about entering a new place seems to restart our memory.
3. Make a fist
Very useful tool if you need to remember things at work and you can’t. Simple stress ball will help you out, as clenching your fist improves the ability to absorb information. Scientists suggest that if you are a right handed, clench the fist with this hand before you need to remember the information.
At this point we should just accept it that science considers exercise the cure for absolutely any problem, and memory is no different. The physical act increases alertness and oxygen supply to the brain, and may even increase cell growth in the parts of your brain responsible for memory. One study found that right after light exercise, women were able to recall things better than they could before working up a sweat. And while a quick jog can help you out right now, it is even more effective over the long term. A different study found that women who kept fit over six months significantly improved both their verbal and spatial memory.
Many students tried at least once this trick of getting a full night’s sleep before the exam, as scientists proved long time ago that having a nap is more beneficial for your memory than studying until the last minute. Studies have found that the processes your brain goes through while you’re asleep actually helps you to remember information better the next day. Your brain is bombarded with stimuli when you’re awake, and it uses the time you are asleep to process everything.
6. Use crazy fonts
When it comes to reading news, newspapers or browse Internet we tend to stop on those articles which are attractive and easy to read. However researchers showed that if you want to remember something it is better to read it with a weird font. It doesn’t matter which size or boldness you use, but the harder it is to read the better it is for your brain.
7. Chew gum
It turns out that people do better both on visual and audio memory tasks if they keep chewing a gum while making the task. The act of chewing gum keeps people more focused and improves concentration.
8. Write things out
Nowadays the majority uses cellphones or laptops to remember things, however it is better if you make it handwritten. Just the act of writing according to science allows you to recall the things you need, while the keyboard doesn’t have such an ability.
9. Know when to turn music on-and off
Do you like playing a bit of a music while working or studying? It is better for your productivity to listen to the music before you start reading something, and when you already started to work it is better to stop all the distractions, as you will recall less later on.
One of the weirdest and most effective ways to remember something is to associate it with a visualize image. This can be taken to an extreme, where you can recall a huge number of pieces of information just by building up a detailed visual image in your brain. Let’s say you wanted to remember that J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books. Rowling sounds like bowling, so visualize a bowling alley. Now add to this image a hairy potter. This hirsute man, his hands covered with clay, gets up to roll the ball down the lane. From there you could add other bits of information, for example the names of the different Harry Potter books. Eventually you have a place in your head full of information that you can access at any time. It sounds bonkers, but science says it works.
If you are sitting in a boring class or meeting, don’t be afraid to start drawing hearts and flowers in your margins. While it can look like doodlers are paying less attention than non-doodlers, in reality the act of drawing is helping to keep their brain active. Just sitting there when you are bored makes it easier for you to tune out and as a result you will remember less information. In studies, people who were given a doodling task while listening to a boring phone message ended up remembering 29 percent more of what was on the tape than people who just sat still and listened.
featured image: source