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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 peg mnemonic system is useful because it can help you remember items in non-sequential order. This is especially helpful for material that already has a natural order to it. For example, you could use the peg system to easily remember the Ten Commandments, the amendments to the US Constitution, the periodic table of elements, or the planets in the solar system.

The following example shows how you could use the peg system to remember the first 5 US states in order of population. The first word given is the peg word, followed by the state, then the substitute word that we will use to make our association. For example, to remember that California is number 1, you would make a visual association between a bun and the Hollywood sign.

1. Bun - California - Hollywood Sign
2. Shoe - Texas - Longhorn Cattle
3. Tree - New York - Big Apple
4. Door - Florida - Oranges
5. Hive - Illinois - Sears Tower

You could easily continue this list for all the states.

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When you learn a fact, there are many associations that are learned along with it. The more associations you have for a particular fact, the more likely you are to remember it because each association acts like a cue to remember the original information. You can use this idea to help you remember something that is on the tip of your tongue. Try to recall everything that is related to the idea. Chances are that something you DO remember will lead you to what you DON'T. For example, if you are trying to remember an actor's name, try to name all the movies that he has been in and all of his costars. It's very possible that in doing this, the name will just pop into your head.

The context of where and how you learned a piece of information is also stored in your memory. If you are trying to remember something that your math teacher taught you in class, try to picture the class and the circumstances surrounding the time when you learned it. This might cue your memory.

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As with most skills, practice improves your performance. Unfortunately, simply practicing by memorizing long lists over and over is not going to improve your ability to remember. There is no "mental muscle" that you are making stronger. However, if you practice memorizing using mnemonic techniques such as acronyms or pegwords, you will get better at using these techniques, which will improve your ability to remember.

In other words, you cannot improve your inherent memory ability through practice, but you can improve your skill at certain memory techniques that make learning more efficient.

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One of the best ways to improve your memory for every day facts and avoid absentmindedness is to get organized. Disorganized people report more memory problems than people who can easily structure the information that comes to them.

Having a good organizational system in place will ensure that information will not be misplaced, because if you have a specific place for everything, the mind knows exactly where to go to retrieve that information. For example, a disorganized person might throw their keys anywhere in the house. This means that they must remember at all times where their keys are, otherwise the keys become lost. If you are organized and always place your keys on the hook next to the door, then your brain doesn't need to remember where they are because they are always in the same place.

For less tangible information such as phone numbers and dates, you could use a PDA or notebook to keep track of the information. This frees up some mental energy for more creative or productive uses. Once this stuff is written down, you no longer have to expend energy keeping it in your brain.

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People of nearly any age can learn and benefit from mnemonic techniques such as the Link and Loci systems.

Children as young as five can use these techniques effectively to learn material appropriate for their age group. Additionally, mnemonics have been shown to help elderly people with declining memory faculties.

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