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Concentration and memory are related mental skills; however, according to some, memory doesn’t consider the ability to remember things, but lack of focus, if we take a philosophical approach to the subject. Things with memory become even more complicated as we do things automatically, but with age, our brain needs more time to process information given that many brain functions decline, such as precisely the ability to focus while ignoring distraction.
As we age, it is harder to pay attention, to focus, accordingly, one needs to ask: is there something we should be doing to counteract the lapses we already have? First, we need to keep our brain healthy. How? With proper diet, exercise, stress management, and cognitive stimulation, and this is what most of us are aware. The good thing is that science seems to be finding new ways we can improve our memory capacity, some of which are the simple things we can do every day.
Before we go into exploring those ways, we should take a look at how the process of memory function because memory is a complicated and complex process. First, our brain creates memory by sending signals in patterns creating connections between our neurons (synapses), then the process of consolidating the memory takes place, the process of creating a long-term memory where our brain strengthen the synapses usually when we are sleeping. Lastly, there is the part in which we are recalling the memory, repeating the same pattern of brain activity. Now, let’s see what are the ways we can improve our memory.
Meditation: for working memory
We use working memory every day, thus it would be good to learn how to strengthen it. Meditation is one of the ways we can accomplish that goal – one research showed that participants who had no experience in mindfulness meditation can improve their memory in just eight weeks. The main benefit of meditating daily is the ability to improve concentration, focus. During meditation, our brain stops processing information actively, which makes our brain stronger in a similar way sleep helps us process and organize that information. Another research showed that meditation could improve standardized test scores after two weeks. See our post on meditation techniques you can practice to improve memory.
Exercise: for memory recall
Regular exercising has numerous benefits for us, one of which is the ability to improve memory recall. Exercising is especially important for older adults, fitness, for instance, is proven to slow down the decline of memory. Regular exercising can improve spatial memory as well. For our brain, exercising has benefits beyond improving our memory, it can also help us sharpen our brain and improve other cognitive abilities. Mental health and exercising are closely related and for those who suffer from depression and anxiety disorders, exercising can improve mood and mental health in general, thus it have a great impact on brain activities. A study from Georgia University found that a 20-minute workout could improve memory recall by 10 percent.
Sleep: for memory consolidation
Researchers who were analyzing the connection between sleep and memory explained their connection as the most important element for having a good memory. When we sleep, our memory consolidates, thus it is logical that lack of sleep brings gaps in memory. Scientists also explored the benefits of short naps, concluding that even these short restful moments aid memory capacity helping our brain solidify memories. Sleep deprivation affects our ability to consolidate new memories.
Berries: for long-term memory
Healthy eating habits are in the focus of many important processes in the body; moreover, certain foods have the ability to help us more directly when it comes to our mental health. Researchers from the University of Reading and the Peninsula Medical School found out that a normal diet with blueberries improves spatial memory. Another study showed that nurses who had at least two servings of berries (and strawberries) twice a week saw improvements in memory decline. Berries are high in flavonoids, which strengthen brain connections.
Coffee: for memory consolidation
Although no study confirmed that caffeine could improve memory, one study did show that a caffeine pill after learning tasks improves memory recall up to 24 hours. In the study, the participants were to memorize a set of images and to be tested in three categories, same, similar and completely different images, picking up the exactly same image. According to researchers, this is the process of pattern separation, which refers to deeper level of memory retention.
Chew gum: for stronger memory
It is good to chew gum when you learn new things, a study finds. Although there are some contradictory researches regarding the connection between memory improvement and chewing gum, one study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, showed that participants who were chewing gum during memory recall task were more accurate. Why is this happening? Scientists believe that while we chew gum we create a stronger connection in our brain due to the increase of oxygen, which, in turn, helps with focus and attention. Other study suggests that due to the increase activity in the hippocampus, chewing gum affects memory recall. These studies also suggest that people do better on visual memory tasks while chewing gum.
Throughout the day, we take in a lot of information, today even more than before, and while these findings only confirm what many of us already knew, scientists explored other interesting ways to improve memory.
Concentrate for eight seconds!
If you really need to remember something, scientists believe it‘s good to concentrate on that thing for at least eight seconds. Studies have indicated that eight seconds is the minimum amount of time for an information to go from our short-term to long-term memory.
Read in crazy fonts!
It seems that one of the best ways to remember something is to read it in crazy, weird fonts, according to scientists. The harder to read, the better.
Forget about walking through a doorway!
Researchers found that walking through a doorway seems to influence our ability to remember things although they are still not sure why. It appears that once we enter a new place, we tend to forget, that is, our memory restarts.
Do you have anything to add to this list? Share your comments with us below.
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