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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!

If you are reading this, then you know all the letters of the alphabet. You've probably been reading and writing with letters for many years. So, it should be a trivial exercise for you to recite the alphabet. Now try it backwards.

The reason this is so much harder is because you memorized the alphabet using serial-learning. In other words, each letter is a cue for the next letter. This little exercise will teach you how to recite the alphabet backwards. Learn this and impress your friends.

To do this, you should be familiar with the Peg Mnemonic System and in particular, the Alphabet Pegwords which will be reproduced below. Now, start with the word for the last letter in the alphabet, "zucchini," and associate it with the letter before it - "yo-yo." Perhaps you will imagine a zucchini on the end of a string. Then associate "yo-yo" with "x-ray." Once you have made all 25 associations, you should be able to quickly recite the alphabet backwards by recalling each association in order.

Apple
Boy
Cat
Dog
Egg
Foot
Goat
Hat
Ice
Juice
Kite
Log
Monkey
Nut
Owl
Pig
Quilt
Rock
Sock
Tie
Umbrella
Vampire
Wig
X-ray
Yo-yo
Zucchini

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Previously, we have discussed several different mnemonics (Link, Loci, Peg) that rely on your ability to visualize an association between two different items. These visualizations are easy to produce when the items to remember are concrete nouns such as frog, rose, or moon, but they become more difficult when you need to memorize abstract words such as wealthy, tired, or attention. Try one of these three techniques to make effective visualizations from abstract words.

Visualize something related to the word
If you need to memorize the word "wealthy," you might visualize a bag of money or a pile of gold coins. To memorize "Abraham Lincoln," you could visualize a stovetop hat.

Visualize a cause or effect of the word
To memorize the word "tired," you could imagine a bed with fluffy pillows. For the abstract word "strong," you could visualize some barbell weights.

Visualize something that sounds like the word
For the word "look," you could use the rhyming word "book" instead. For the word "attention," you could use "a tent + nun."

Once you have created a concrete image from an abstract word, you can then use the other methods to remember this image.

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A neurotransmitter is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate the electrical signals between neurons. Neurotransmitters exist in little pockets, inside the nerve cells, called vesicles. When an electrical signal triggers the neuron, these vesicles float to the cell membrane and release their neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters then jump across the synapse and bind to receptors on adjacent neurons.

How the adjacent neuron reacts to the neurotransmitters depends on a number of factors. There are many different types of neurotransmitters produce different results. Some cause the adjacent neuron to trigger and others suppress triggering. It is the combined effect of all the neurotransmitters that determines what happens to the signal.

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Of the five senses, humans use their sense of sight the most. Sometimes we can become so dependent on our eyes that we hardly pay any attention to our other senses. One way to encourage your mind to pay attention to the other senses is to close your eyes. Here are a couple activities that you can do with your eyes closed.

Take a Shower
Getting the water temperature just right, finding the shampoo, and toweling off are simple tasks that become difficult when you cant see what you are doing.

Get Dressed
Naturally, you won't be able to see colors with your eyes shut, so you'll have to pick out a matching outfit by feel.

In doing these exercises you well probably notice things that you never noticed before when you could rely on sight. For example, you may notice the different shapes of the bottles in the shower. Focusing your attention on your other senses will improve your memory by teaching you how to create strong associations for things that you want to remember.

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Previously we explained how the Peg Mnemonic System works. The one limitation of this system is that it is difficult to construct lists for numbers greater than 20. Here are two methods that will work for longer lists:

Seasons
This technique will let you memorize up to 40 items. You still use the original 10 items described earlier, but you will supplement this with the seasons in the year (1-10 will be Spring, 11-20 will be Summer, 21-30 will be Fall, and 31-40 will be Winter). You just need to associate the three items (the word, the pegword, and the season) into one visualization. For example, the pegwords for 34 would be a door (four) and a winter scene (31-40). So, if you wanted to memorize "carrots" at this spot, you would make an association with all three things (carrots, door and winter).

Alphabet Pegwords
This system picks concrete nouns that start with each letter of the alphabet. The disadvantage of using these words is that non-sequential retrieval becomes a little more difficult (you may not necessarily know the 17th letter of the alphabet), but it does give you a simple way to remember up to 26 items.

Example:
A -- Apple
B -- Boy
C -- Cat
D -- Dog
...

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