STAYING mentally sharp is important whether you are a student studying for your final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can, or a senior looking for ways to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age.
They say that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to the brain, scientists discovered that this old adage simply isn’t true. There are many things that you can do to improve your memory and mental performance.
No doubt, a strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain, which has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age, which is known as neuroplasticity.
In this article by PsyBlog “7 Scientifically-Proven Ways to Improve Your Memory” shows that with the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways to adapt and react in ever-changing ways.
- The 40-second rehearsal
Rehearsing a memory for just 40 seconds could be the key to permanent recall, a new study finds. Psychologists found that when rehearsing a memory, the same area of the brain is activated as when laying it down.
Dr Chris Bird, who led the research said: “In this study, we have shown that a brief period of rehearsal has a huge effect on our ability to remember complex, lifelike events over periods of 1-2 weeks.
- Reminders by association
This is another great tool to help you remember to do something in the future.
Here are two examples of ‘reminders by association’:
- A picture of your family by your desk reminds you to call them and tell them you will be late home.
- A piece of litter on the floor reminds you to put the bins out.
Little environmental cues like these are enough to double the number of people who remembered to perform some future action.
- The aroma of Rosemary
Research also finds the aroma of Rosemary essential oil helps to enhance memory and the ability to remember future events. In a study, 66 people were given various memory tests either in a room that was scented with Rosemary or without. And the result shows that those breathing the scent of Rosemary performed better.
- Eating vegetables improves memory by 40%
Eating vegetables — but not fruit — will help to preserve memory, the research also finds.
In a study involving 3,718 people over 65, living in Chicago, they were asked how often they ate particular foods, and they were subsequently administered cognitive tests.
Professor Martha Clare Morris who led the study, explained the results:
“Compared to those who consumed less than one serving of vegetables a day, people who ate at least 2.8 servings of vegetables a day, saw their rate of cognitive change improves by roughly 40 percent.
This increase is equivalent to about 5 years of younger age.”
Green leafy vegetables showed the strongest association with better memory.
On the other hand, older people got the greatest benefits from eating more vegetables.
- Drink hot chocolate
Do you know that two cups of hot chocolate a day can keep the brain healthy. In a research involving 60 people, with an average age of 73, they were given various memory tests and thinking skills, while the blood flow to their brains was measured.
Those who had impaired blood flow in their brain improved after drinking the flavanol-rich cocoa.
- Staying happy
Something as simple as getting a bag of candy can also help to boost good mood, and memory. In fact, anything that quickly puts you in a good mood can boost your memory and decision-making ability.
Professor Ellen Peters who co-authored the study said: “There has been lots of research showing that younger adults are more creative and cognitively flexible when they are in a good mood. Cognitive ability usually declines with age, but these reversal results prove to be good news for older adults.
- Exercise 4 hours later
Another study shows that long-term memory is boosted by exercise four hours after learning. Exercising directly after learning, though, provides no boost to memory whatsoever.
In addition, brain scans reveals that exercise lead to more precise representations of memories in the Hippocampus. Scientists are not yet sure why exercise after learning, helps to boost memory.
“Considering that exercise intervention takes place after learning, delayed exercise will most likely affect memory retention through memory consolidation,” they added.
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