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13 Memory Boosters

Posted on May 9, 2020 | No Comments on 13 Memory Boosters

Whether you’re a student or a near-retiring healthcare professional, a good memory equips you with an important tool to continue with your continuing medical education, and many other undertakings in life. Here are 13 simple but effective pointers to keep our memory in good shape.

Do you have a hard time remembering names, phone numbers, and important dates? Are you constantly losing your car in parking lots? When you leave for vacation, do you have to turn around 10 kilometers down the road to make sure you shut off all the appliances?

“At times, everyone has problems remembering,” admits Roger Meyer, an American writer who has written an in-depth article on the subject. “Even great minds have memory lapses. Once, Thomas Edison stood in line to pay, his taxes. When he moved to the head of the line, he couldn’t recall his name. Sir Winston Churchill often forgot his glasses and even dentures.”

But there are people who have been blessed with good memory. Napoleon Bonaparte, for instance, knew, thousands of his, soldiers by name. Charles W. Eliot, during his 40 years as president of Harvard University, earned the reputation of knowing all the students by name each year. There was the case of Harry Lorayne, who used to amaze his audiences by being in-troduced to hundreds of people, one after another, then giving the name of any person who stood up and requested it.

But these are exceptions – phenomenal exceptions. “We have all experienced the frustration of forgetting a name or face, or not being able to remember what it was that we went into a shop to buy. Such incidents may be early warning signs that the brain’s performance is declining, and we need to exercise it more,” write Dr. David Wrecks and Jamie James in an article which appeared in Reader’s Digest.

When asked how he maintains the mental energy of a young man, Michael DeBakey replied: “We say of muscles, ‘Use them or lose them.’ Well, the same applies to mind: the more you use it, the better it functions.”
Meyer, in his article, cites six basic facts about memory. For one, memory is a process – and it isn’t always exact. “A memory comes from actions you take to store, remember, and use information,” he explains. “As with computer, information must be entered through your senses and then acted upon to store it. Once it’s stored, you must take some action to retrieve it.”

According to Meyer, it takes concentration to retain facts. A person forgets something because he or she is not paying attention in the first place. “We condemn our memories when we really should be blaming our lack of concentration,” Meyer points out.

Forgetting happens fast. “You forget about 60 percent of what you learned within three years, but in the next 50 years, you forget only about another five percent,” Meyer discloses.

Different people have different abilities, just as we have various levels of intelligence. Some people are good at remembering numbers. Others will forget their own address, yet they easily recall the name of every person they meet.

The male species may not agree with this, but women’s memories are better than men’s. “On almost every type of memory test at every age, women perform better than men,” Meyer says.

Finally, aging doesn’t equal forgetfulness. “As individuals reach their 70s, it may take the brain longer to retrieve stored bits of information from parts of the long-term memory,” Meyer maintains. “But when they’re not rushed, older people remember as well as anyone.”

And here’s good news: Forgetfulness is curable! “With few simple devices, it’s within most people’s power to have a super memory,” assures memory expert Michael Presley, an American professor of human development at the University of Maryland.

Think of remembering as re-membering. Say you’re appearing on a television game show and you’re on the verge of winning a cash prize of one million pesos. All you need to do is remember the name of the battle in which Napoleon was defeated. You know the answer. It’s on the tip of your tongue. How to get it off?

“Try to reinstate as much as possible of what you know surrounding the issue,” says Dr. Robin West, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida. Thus, Napoleon may lead to Josephine, to France, to the Napoleonic Code, to battles and (eventually) to Waterloo. “The more connections you make the better your chances of finding the right pathway,” says Dr. West.

Make a picture. A mental image is a picture you make up that includes the information you want to remember. Making up images is a very good way to learn and recall. Take a good look at those keys as you place them on the table. “Raise your hands to your eyes, miming a camera, and click the button,” suggests Dr. Joan Minninger, in her book, Total Recall: How to Boost Your Memory Power.

Talk to yourself. Go ahead, don’t be shy. Give yourself an aural as well as a visual image to remember. If you leave your car at the end of the parking lot, under a talisay tree, go ahead and say, “I’m leaving my car at the far end of the parking lot, under a talisay tree.” Say it out loud. “It’s another way to reinforce the memory,” says Dr. Irene Colsky, a memory expert and adjunct professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Miami.

Make lists. Wherever and whenever possible, jot down on paper what you need to remember. “Our short-term memory has limited capabilities – there’s only so much space available,” says Dr. Forrest Scogin, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alabama. By making lists, you not only are assured of remembering what you wrote down, but it frees your mind for more important things.

Categorize. When pen and paper are unavailable, you’ll have to list things in your head – but don’t do so randomly, says Dr. Scogin. If you’re on your way to the grocery store and you know you need 20 items, you’ll probably never remember all 20 unless they are logically grouped. Think: five vegetables, four paper goods, three fruits, etc.

Chunk. “Chunking” is like categorizing, but you do it with numbers. For example, a checking account number 1030545 is easier to remember if you think it as 10:30 (time for monthly meeting) and 545 (number of your house). You can also “chunk” telephone numbers, social security numbers, etc.

Outline your thoughts. Many college students become intimately involved with a pink, yellow, or green highlighting marker. But you don’t need a highlighter to outline your thoughts. You can do it mentally. “Select what is important and what is not,” says Dr. Pressley. You’re far less likely to forget what you read, he adds.

Read, read, read. “The brain thrives on new experiences, so provide it with extra stimulation by reading a good specialized magazine, such as a scientific or medical journal,” Dr. Weeks and James state. “Read a newspaper or periodical of opposing political ideas to your own and take on the ideas one by one in a mental argument. Compose a letter to the editor with which you particularly disagree, putting your point of view as clearly as possible.”

Boost your vocabulary. One wayto do this is by playing category names (name as many birds, say, as you can). To make the task more difficult, put them in alphabetical order (classical composers from A-Z, for instance).

Use language games to increase your creativity and verbal ingenuity. Try taking nouns at random from a dictionary and concocting a metaphor for each. For example, mother-elongator; ballot-politician’s showdown. Think of alternative uses for familiar objects, such as: brick–foot rest, paperweight; blanket – dust cover, tent, fire escape, hammock; paper clip – key ring, toothpick, fishing hook.

Use conscious reinforcement to improve your memory. Make up a verse or phrase to remember facts. For instance, “On March 16, 1521, the Philippines was rediscovered by Ferdinand Magellan.” A well-known acronym is ROY G. BIV, which stands for the colors of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet).

Flex your muscle. Physical exercise helps the brain function better. Research shows it can encourage creativity, speed the thinking, and even help a person beat the blues. “By flooding the brain with more blood, aerobic exercise fuels brain cells with oxygen and nutrients,” the editors of Super Life, Super Health point out. “The blood flow even increases the number of connections between nerve cells in the brain. That may be reason why exercise can boost your reaction time and improve the speed at which you process information.”

Get enough sleep. Like soil that losses its nutrients when it’s overused, your brain needs time to rest and rejuvenate in order to produce. Remember the words of British writer Marti Farquhar Tupper, “It is well to lie fallow for a while.” It’s not only how much sleep you get, but the timing as well. “If you go to sleep later than usual,” the Super Life editors claim, “you lose information, even if you get a full eight hours sleep. So during learning periods, stay in step with your body clock.”

Yes, you can improve your brain power and use it to become a successful person. “How is it that memory is good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?” Duc de La Roche-foucauld wondered.

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