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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!

Taking breaks is very beneficial to studying as it gives your mind a chance to digest and organize the information that you have absorbed. Even a 15 minute break every 45 minutes can be a huge help. Cramming is studying for long periods without taking breaks and is not recommended. Spacing out your learning will actually decrease the total amount of study time that you need to learn a subject. Additionally, taking a break between studying two different subjects will help prevent interference, especially if the two subjects are similar.

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New research from Washington University in St. Louis suggests that repeated test taking might be more effective than repeated studying. Students who tested themselves while they studied had better retention of the information than students who simply studied the material without testing themselves.

The improved retention of material was probably a result of the feedback that students received from taking the tests. The students who did not take tests were never able to verify that they had correctly learned the information. Students who did not test themselves came away with a false sense of confidence about their knowledge.

This research suggests that teachers who give their students frequent quizzes may be improving their student's retention of the material better than if they had spent the time discussing the material.

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SQ5R stands for Survey, Question, Read, Record, Recite, Review, and Reflect and is an extension of the SQ3R discussed earlier. The two added steps are described as follows:

Record

After reading each section, you should record the main ideas. Highlight the key phrases (keeping in mind our suggestions for good highlighting skills), write notes in the margins, and write down the answers to your questions (and any new questions that you may have).

Reflect

This is where you think about the ideas you have learned and try to draw conclusions from them. Do you agree with the material? Does it relate to something else that you know? Take time to organize the information in your mind.

Other study systems that are nearly identical to the ones we have discussed:

PQRST (Preview, Question, Read, Self-Recitation, Test)
PQ4R (Preview, Question, Read, Reflect, Recite, Review)
OARWET (Overview, Ask, Read, Write, Evaluate, Test)

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Free radicals are molecules that are naturally produced by the body during normal functioning. Free radicals are highly reactive and thus are likely to take part in a chemical reaction. In the body these reactions tend to be destructive, and over time can contribute to various problems, including memory decline. Antioxidants are chemicals that can neutralize these free radicals and thus prevent them from initiating any harmful reactions.

Antioxidants

Vitamin A (Beta-carotene): Found in carrots, squash, broccoli and other fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C: Found in citrus and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin E: Found in nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
Bio-flavonoids: Found in berries and green tea.

In one study, vitamin E was shown to help prevent normal age related memory decline. In another study vitamins C and E showed some promise in helping patients with dementia. Many other studies have shown additional health benefits from eating antioxidants. So, eat your vegetables!

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Many scientific studies have shown that routine exercise and staying physically in shape can improve memory and slow down normal age related memory decline. There are several reasons why this might be the case.

First, a healthy cardiovascular system is better able to deliver a steady supply of oxygen rich blood to the brain. This increased blood flow can lead to increased numbers of synapses. These extra synapses act like a cognitive reserve that can help to delay the onset of common memory disorders.

A second benefit for physical exercise is that it decreases cholesterol and hypertension which can damage the tiny blood vessels in your brain and cause memory problems.

A third benefit comes from the proper regulation of blood sugar levels in the body, which can be improved by loosing weight. It has been shown that improved blood sugar regulation can result in better memory. In one study, people with poor blood sugar regulation were discovered to have a smaller hippocampus, which is essential for good memories.

Lastly, during exercise the brain releases neurotrophins which strengthen neurons and encourage new growth.

A minimum of thirty minutes of exercise each day is the recommended amount necessary to stay in good physical shape. Here are some simple suggestions for ways to add a little exercise into your daily life: take the stairs instead of the elevator, ride your bike to work, jog on a treadmill while watching TV.

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