What did I need at the grocery store? What is his or her name? Who was I supposed to call back? Where do I need to be and when? We all have suffered from time to time with memory problems. But, we can supercharge our memories! First, a little bit of background.
Memory loss is one of the first warning signs of cognitive decline. It can also be the result of a metabolic or other health issue. There are four 4 types of memory: Sensory, Short-Term, Working & Long-Term. Sensory Memory is a very brief recall of a sensory experience, such as what we just saw or heard. Short-term memory is that brief period when you can recall information you were just exposed to from 30 seconds to a few days. Id. The human mind’s ability to hold a limited amount of information in a very accessible state temporarily is called short-term memory states author, Nelson Cowan. (Cowan, 2009) Working memory is our brain’s ability to store a limited amount of information available just long enough to use it. (Heerema, 2014) Working memory helps you plan and carry out behavior. Long-term memory is a vast storage of knowledge and a record of earlier events. Long-term memories can range from a few days to decades. Id.
Memory is important in everyone’s day to day life. We cherish our memories and hope they will last forever. Did you know that even when it becomes harder for us to recall certain memories that they are not lost forever? Memories do not vanish; they are still being stored in your brain. However, our ability to access these memories can diminish over time. 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. When you notice early signs such as forgetting names, directions, or simple instructions it is time to get to work! Here are a few ways to help you exercise your brain and work on improving your ability to retrieve memory.
For people who do not respond well to medications, or people looking for a natural alternative to pharmaceutical treatments, neurofeedback is a great option. Especially effective in a clinical setting where the clients can also receive cognitive and emotional support, neurofeedback targets the underlying disregulations in brain activity that can increase or cause clinical symptoms. [Click to Tweet] Neurfeedback promotes health brain activity by creating positive changes at the source of the problem. Clients can begin to experience the benefits of increased cognitive function and lowered stress levels. These changes help increase the speed and fluidity of retrieving memories.
- Water Your Brain
Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for your brain. Your brain works like an electrical current. Dehydration causes the currency to become weak. [Click to Tweet] Researchers from the University of East London and the University of Westminster in the UK analyzed particular areas of the participants’ brain, including reaction time, verbal recognition memory, visual memory and learning. They found that participants who drank around three cups of water just before completing tests had a 14% increased reaction time compared with those who did not drink any water. Id.
- Brain Games
There are plenty of fun ways to help train your brain to recall memories quicker and easier. With today’s technology, we have access to endless websites and cellphone apps that strengthen your brain. One of the most well-known websites is Luminosity, which offers a simple online tool with games that exercise core cognitive abilities. You can use Luminosity from a computer, tablet, or cellphone for iOS (iPhones) or Android operating systems.
- Work Out Your Hands
Memory, like muscular strength, requires you to “use it or lose it.” The more you work out your brain, the better you’ll be able to process and remember information. [Click to Tweet] The best brain exercises break your routine and challenge you to use and develop new brain pathways. Activities that require using your hands are a great way to exercise your brain. (Smith, 2015) Playing a musical instrument, juggling, enjoying a game of ping-pong (table tennis), making pottery, knitting, or needlework are activities that exercise the brain by challenging hand-eye coordination, spatial-temporal reasoning, and creativity. (Smith, 2015)
- Play Games
- Picture Memory
- Matching Pairs (Match the Pictures)
- Matching Pairs (Match the Words)
- Universal Crossword
- Sudoku Daily
6. Just Say No to Technology
When the working memory is experiencing digital overload, it’s like a glass of water overflowing. According to Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, as explained in an interview with The Huffington Post in June:
“It’s like having water poured into a glass continuously all day long, so whatever was there at the top has to spill out as the new water comes down. We’re constantly losing the information that’s just come in — we’re constantly replacing it, and there’s no place to hold what you’ve already gotten. It makes for a very superficial experience; you’ve only got whatever’s in your mind at the moment. And it’s hard for people to metabolize and make sense of the information because there’s so much coming at them and they’re so drawn to it. You end up feeling overwhelmed because what you have is an endless amount of facts without a way of connecting them into a meaningful story.”
I hope this article gives you some useful information to help you recharge your memory. Now, put this list somewhere you can find it so you don’t forget to carry out some of these ideas.
April 4, 2015
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 Cowan, N. (2009). What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory? Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2657600/
 Heerema, E. (2014). 4 Types of Memory: Sensory, Short-Term, Working & Long-Term. Retrieved from http://alzheimers.about.com/od/symptomsofalzheimers/a/4-Types-Of-Memory-Sensory-Short-Term-Working-And-Long-Term.htm
 Smith, M. (2015). How to Improve Your Memory. Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/memory/how-to-improve-your-memory.htm
 Whiteman, H. (2013). Drinking water boosts your brain’s reaction time.
Graphic courtesy of: http://multibriefs.com/briefs/exclusive/0919memory.jpg