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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

The Phonetic mnemonic system is similar to the Peg system in that it uses words to represent numbers so that you can recall items non-sequentially. It is more difficult to learn than the Peg system, but once mastered, it will allow you to remember much longer lists (the Peg system has difficulty for numbers over 20).

Whereas the Peg system translates numbers into words by using rhymes, the Phonetic system uses sounds. Each digit from 0-9 is represented by a unique sound.

0 -- z, s
1 -- t, d, th
2 -- n
3 -- m
4 -- r
5 -- l
6 -- j, sh, ch, soft g
7 -- k, q, hard c, hard g
8 -- f, v
9 -- p, b

You can then translate numbers into words by combining these sounds. Notice how only consonant sounds are used. Any non-used sounds (including all the vowels) are irrelevant. They are simply there to help construct the word. For example, the number 29 might be represented by the word 'nap' (n=2 and 9=p). The number 99 could be represented by 'puppy', 'papa,' or 'baby.' You can use the word 'tie' for the number 1.

Use these constructed keywords to make your visual associations and you will be able to recall items in any order.

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We learned in Types of Forgetting that interference with other memories is one way that we forget information. Mnemonics such as the Peg and Loci systems rely on pre-memorized cues. As a result, interference can occur when you use the same cues to remember different lists. Typically, the new list will weaken the memory of the older list.

There are two ways to get around this. First, you could construct multiple sets of locations for the Loci system, and multiple sets of pegwords for the Peg system. Use the different sets for different types of memory tasks and you will reduce interference.

Another way to get around this is a technique called "Progressive Elaboration." This involves the modification of your visualization to incorporate multiple items (one from each list). For example, let's say that you are already using the Loci system to link your front door to a zebra. Now you want to use the Loci system to also remember an ice cream cone. With progressive elaboration, you would incorporate all the items into one visualization (the front door with the zebra with the ice cream cone). Now you can remember multiple lists using the same loci or pegwords.

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Have you ever had a great idea when you didn't have access to a pen and paper? Maybe you were driving your car, on the bus, running a marathon, or scuba diving. You can use the Loci system to help you remember the idea later. To do this, associate your idea with a location inside your house. The next time you see that location, you will remember your idea and you will be able to write it down.

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Amnesia is a condition characterized by the inability to form new memories or the inability to recall existing memories. Amnesia is caused when the hippocampus or thalamus becomes damaged. This can be the result of a blow to the head, a stroke, surgery, alcoholism or certain types of infections.

One of the most common misconceptions about amnesia is that people forget everything that they ever knew. In reality, it's episodic memory which is most impaired. Intelligence, attention and creativity are generally unaffected.

Anterograde amnesia refers to a condition where the sufferer cannot make new memories. They can still recall memories from before the condition started, but not from any experiences that occur after the onset of amnesia. This is because the brain becomes unable to convert short-term memories into long-term memories.

Retrograde amnesia is when the person is capable of forming new memories, but is unable to remember anything that happened before the onset of amnesia. Amnesia patients may experience both types of amnesia to different degrees.

Another misconception, fueled by cartoons and Hollywood movies, is that a second impact to the head can completely reverse the condition. In reality, a second impact would cause increased memory impairment. There are no specific treatments for amnesia, but conditions generally improve over time as the injury that caused it heals.

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A concussion is a mild brain injury that can cause temporary memory impairment. A concussion happens when the head receives a hard impact that cannot be absorbed via the fluid that surrounds and protects the brain. When the brain slams into the skull, it can become damaged. The sudden acceleration can also tear the fragile axons throughout the brain.

A concussion can cause temporary unconsciousness, confusion, amnesia and other mental disturbances. Typically, symptoms go away after a few hours to a few days, but some severe concussions can cause permanent impairments such as headaches, sensitivity to light or sound, memory problems, dizziness, depression and anxiety.

The best way to protect yourself from getting a concussion is to wear a proper helmet when participating in any activity that might result in a blow to the head (football, biking, skateboarding, skiing, hockey, etc). Some of the worst concussions happen during car accidents, so be sure to wear your seatbelt and drive safely. You should avoid activities such as boxing, which involve repeated blows to the head. Studies show that multiple concussions can lead to dementia and other memory problems later in life.

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