7 Memory Improvement Tips

Saturday, June 30, 2018 - 11:07

A strong memory depends on various factors and there are lots of things people can do to improve their memory and mental performance.

Everyone has moments of forgetfulness from time to time, especially when life gets busy, although it can be a completely normal occurrence, having a poor memory can be frustrating.

Genetics plays a role in memory loss, especially in serious neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Sleeping well, taking breaks or even having an active social life may help in maintaining cognitive function. Here are 7 tips which can protect one's memory.

Sleeping well helps reinforce episodic memories - those associated with time and place. Having a full night's sleep soon after gaining a new skill helps consolidate the processes involved so they can later be performed "on autopilot".

Stress affects memory in different ways, depending on when the stressful event occurs. Yoga, meditation or other relaxation techniques may help.

Older people are often told to adopt a "use it or lose it" approach to maintaining cognitive function. In a 2013 study, United States researchers found participants aged 60 to 90 who spent 15 hours a week for three months learning a complex skill, such as digital photography, saw significant improvements in episodic memory tests.

Positive thinking appears to boost memory performance. Researchers at Harvard University found that they could improve the performance of people aged 60 and above in memory tests by subliminally presenting them with positive age-related words such as "wise", "sage" and "astute".

Memories can be undermined if the brain does not have enough downtime to consolidate them. More recently, neuroscientists have shown that some amnesia patients and healthy volunteers are more able to retain lists of words if the task is followed by periods of quiet time.

Having an active social life delays memory loss as we age. US scientists who asked people in their 50s and 60s to do memory tests every other year between 1998 and 2004 found the decline in recall abilities of their most sociable subjects to be half that of the least well connected. Having good friends, volunteering for charities and other forms of social engagement also protect one's memory.

Health claims made for many "superfoods" need to be taken with a pinch of salt. What we eat does, however, affect cognitive function. A 2016 research review found Mediterranean-style diets to be linked to slower rates of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, and improved long-term working memory. So stock up on plant-based foods, cut back on red meat and dairy - and use olive oil as your main source of fat.

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