Ron White the National Memory Champion is always looking for teaching on maximizing your brain power and memory tools. This is a good article that reinforces what Ron teaches in keynotes around the world. Enjoy…
Imagine if you will, we are all robots designed for a specific task, and we are all controlled by a computer in our head. When we need to do more tasks, our owners could simply install a motherboard, chip or hard-disk to upgrade our memory and learning capabilities. But the human brain is much more complex than even the most advance computer in the world. Even so, improving the human memory power is very different and takes some effort.
The good news is that the “tools” or techniques that is used to improve our memory can be fun, and done a little a day, much can be accomplished to have a dramatic improvement in memory, concentration and our learning abilities.
The first step to improving short term memory is to understand your intention to retain the information. Is the information something you need to learn for a test? Is it something you need to know to help you do your job well? Or perhaps it is something personal, like a friend’s or family member’s birthday.
If you think the information is important and you need to recall it later, you can then decide to pay attention to it to acquire it. You then need to manipulate it in your mind and make it personally meaningful to you. Personalizing it in your own special way will make it less of a chore to recall later.
You can personalize it by anchoring it with some emotions for instance, you need to remember something or your boss will get angry. Or on a positive note, you plan to please your wife or husband, with the information you you’ve remembered. You can also remember something better if you can associate it with information you already know. We’ll come to such techniques later.
5 Ways To Improve Your Memory 1. Exercise
Physical exercise is important for our brain because it brings added oxygen and nutrients vital for proper brain function. “Until recently it was thought that the growth of new neurons, or neurogenesis, did not occur in the adult mammalian brain,” said Terrence Sejnowski, an HHMI investigator at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies. “But we now have evidence for it, and it appears that exercise helps this happen.”
The investigators began their study by comparing the memory skills of a group of sedentary mice to those of a group of mice who exercised freely on a running wheel for one month. Mice in the exercise group logged an average daily distance of 4.87 kilometers, or 2.92 miles.
Numerous human studies have shown that exercise increases alertness and helps people to think more clearly. Recently, Gage demonstrated that new nerve cells grow in the adult human dentate gyrus. If the same correlation between exercise, nerve cell growth and memory observed in mice plays out in the humans, “exercise could help you remember the name of the person you met yesterday to or where you parked your car,” said Sejnowski.
2. Mental Exercise
In addition to physical exercise, add some mental exercise to improve your memory each day. Though researchers don’t fully understand the mechanism at this time, mental activity does appear to help people retain mental sharpness. The commonly held belief that we lose brain cells as we age has been disproved. It simply isn’t true. What seems to be true is that our brains get rusty with disuse, just as our muscles wither without exercise.
Personal development is the commitment to be the best you can be. Staying sharp mentally is certainly an important component of personal development.
Some possible mental gymnastics to consider are:
Card games like poker and bridge. Crossword puzzles The number puzzle Sudoku Scrabble, which combines social interaction and mental exercise Learn something new, such as a craft, a new computer tool, a second language, etc. Read books on topics that cause you to think, such as other religions, different cultures, philosophy, mystery stories. Limit TV to those few shows that cause you to think abou them afterward. Like CSI or Flash Forward. (What would you do if you saw a 2-minute flash of our future?)
Some memory tasks are more affected be sleep deprivation than others. A recent study, for example, found that recognition memory for faces was unaffected by people being deprived of sleep for 35 hours. However, while the sleep-deprived people remembered that the faces were familiar, they did have much more difficulty remembering in which of two sets of photos the faces had appeared. In other words, their memory for the context of the faces was significantly worse. A report in the medical journal The Lancet, said that cutting back from the standard eight down to four hours of sleep each night produced striking changes in glucose tolerance and endocrine function that mimicked many of the hallmarks of aging. Dr Eve Van Cauter, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and director of the study, said, “We suspect that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but could also increase the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss.”
In another study, 84 college students were trained to identify a series of similar-sounding words produced by a synthetic-speech machine. Participants who underwent training in the morning performed well in subsequent tests that morning, but tests later in the day showed that their word-recognition skill had declined. However, after a full night’s sleep, they performed at their original levels. Participants trained in the evening performed just as well 24 hours later as people trained in the morning did. Since they went to bed shortly after training, those in the evening group didn’t exhibit the temporary performance declines observed in the morning group.
From this research, it does seem that it is the act of sleep itself, not simply the passage of time, that is critical to convert new memories into long-term memory codes.
Research on food and memory indicate that the more overall produce you eat, the better. One 25-year Harvard Medical School study of more than 13,000 women showed that the participants who ate relatively high amounts of vegetables over the years had less age-related decline in memory. Cruciferous vegetables and leafy green vegetables had the biggest effect on helping women retain their memory during the course of the research. In another study, the phytochemicals, anthocyanin and quercetin, actually reversed some of the age-related memory deficits in laboratory animals.
Some of the best cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and bok choy. Some of the best leafy green vegetables: spinach, collard and mustard greens, kale and Swiss chard. Some of the best foods for anthocyanin: Berries (all varieties), cherries, black currents, eggplant, red, black, and purple grapes, plums, rhubarb, red onion, red apples, red/purple cabbage, and red beets. Some of the best foods for quercetin: Onions (red, yellow, white), kale, leeks, cherry tomato, broccoli, blueberries, black currants, elderberries, apricots, apple with skin (Red Delicious), and red, purple, and black grapes.
Folic acid can also help your memory.
Folic acid (also known as folate) seems to have a direct effect on memory. A study conducted at Tufts University in Boston followed about 320 men for three years. Those who had high blood levels of homocysteine showed memory decline, but if the men ate foods rich in folic acid (folic acid directly lowers homocysteine levels), their memories were protected. Also, an Australian study found that eating plenty of foods rich in folic acid was associated with faster information processing and memory recall. After just five weeks of introducing adequate folic acid into their diets, women in the study showed overall improvements in memory. Some of the best foods for folic acid include fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, spinach, green peas, artichokes, broccoli, wheat germ, beets and oranges.
A study conducted by researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago followed more than 3,000 men and women for six years to see how diet affected memory. People who ate fish at least once a week had a 10 percent slower decline compared with those who did not eat fish, a difference that gave them the memory and thinking ability of a person three years younger.
Almost anyone can use memory techniques to help them improve their memory. They can help you not only to to remember information accurate but also to remember the structure of information, but also the structure of information.
Most of us do not think only with the left brain (logic) or the right brain (imagination, creativity) but with both. Therein lies the key to using the whole brain to remember information. You can recall information better if you use vivid mental images. And because the images are vivid, they are easy to recall when you need them.
The techniques explained later on in this section show you how to code information vividly, using stories, strong mental images, familiar journeys, and so on.
You can do the following things to make your mnemonics more memorable:
Use vivid and often ludicrous mental images or story lines to help you. Engage your senses, smell, sight, feel, hear, taste. These vivid, colorful, sense-laden images are easier to recall than the ordinary ones. Give your image three dimensions, movement and space to make it more vivid. You can use movement either to maintain the flow of association, or to help you to remember actions. Explode the size of important parts of the image. Don’t just think of a flower, think of a gigantic flower. Make it funny, even hilarious! Humorous or strange things are easier to remember than normal ones. Rude or offensive themes are very difficult to forget. But keep these to yourself. Symbols (danger signs, red traffic lights, pointing fingers, stop signs, etc.) can code difficult messages quickly and effectively
The three important concepts underlying the use of mnemonics are imagination, association and location. Put together, you can use these concepts to generate powerful mnemonic systems.
Imagination: is the tool you use to create and strengthen the links needed to create effective associations. Use your imagination to create mnemonics that works for you in your own way. The more vivid and “out-of-this-world” is your imagination, the better you can recall the information that you want.. You can use imagery that evokes the imagination, sad, angry, sensual or fun. Use whatever that best suits your personality.
Association: this is the method by which you link a thing to be remembered to a way of remembering it. You can create associations by:
Placing things next to, around or on top of each other. Smashing things together Combining images together Example, a woman with a beard. Wrapping them around each other Forming a story around the items. Linking them using the same color, smell, shape, or feeling
As an example, you might link the number 2 with a swan by visualizing a swan with a long slender neck like the number 2.
Location: gives you two contexts: a coherent context into which you can place information so that it hangs together, and a way of separating one mnemonic from another. For example using the layout or furniture in your living room for one set of information and the route you jog or go to work to peg another set of information. That way, there is no confusion.
Last but not least, always practise your memory skills to improve your memory power, until they become second nature to you. A memory expert who can remember thousands of things in mere minutes is like a professional musician or a world class athlete who practices and practices. Develop good memory habits, like mental and physical exercises to make it part of your lifestyle and your brain can stay sharp for much longer.
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