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!
Earlier we described the Chunking Technique for remembering small pieces of information. Since the average Short Term Memory can only hold about 7 things, chunking is a great way to increase the value of each of those 7 things. For example, if you were to remember seven 4 letter words instead of seven letters, you will have increased your letter storage by 400%.
Naturally, the bigger you make your chunks, the fewer chunks you are able to remember. The "7 pieces of information" statistic is based on remembering single characters. If you are remembering short words, you'll be limited to around 6 chunks. If you are remembering short sentences the chunk number drops to 2, however at that point you've managed to cram over 40 letters into your brain!
An EEG measures the electrical activity of the brain by using electrodes placed on the scalp. The brain-wave patterns that are measured can be used to help identify epilepsy, sleep disorders and other conditions. There are four major types of rhythms that can be recognized on an EEG.
Delta waves indicate the slowest type of brain activity. These rhythms are seen during deep sleep.
In terms of activity, Theta waves fall between Delta and Alpha. They are characteristic of someone who is drowsy or in light sleep. They can also be produced by someone who is hypnotized, day dreaming, or lucid dreaming.
These brain-waves are characteristic of normal consciousness. When you are awake, your brain is probably producing alpha waves.
Beta waves are seen when a person is very active, under stress or concentrating hard on a task. They are high frequency waves and indicate that the brain is working hard.
A new study provides evidence that people who meditate are improving their brains. MRI brain scans showed that meditating can increase the thickness of the cortex by causing blood vessels to expand and neurons to have increased branching. The areas that involve attention and sensory processing seem to be the most affected.
In a different study, sleep-deprived volunteers were given mental reaction tests. They were then instructed to either take a short nap or meditate. They were then retested. The volunteers who meditated showed superior performance on the tests, even though they had no prior experience with meditation.
There have been numerous studies comparing the memory performance of smokers to nonsmokers, and smokers always come out behind. Several studies show a direct correlation between smoking and decreased performance in memory for names and faces, as well as a decline in verbal memory. Another recent study included nearly ten thousand people and tracked their memory decline with age. People who smoked had five times the amount of decline that nonsmokers had.
There are two possible reasons for the memory decline experienced by smokers. The first is that smoking damages the lungs and constricts the blood vessels. This decreases the amount of oxygen that can get to the brain, which causes the brain to function at decreased efficiency and can cause some damage. The second reason is that smoking can cause hypertension which can damage the tiny blood vessels that feed the neurons in the brain. Without proper blood flow, the neurons will become damaged. The good news is that quitting smoking can reverse the decline and improve memory performance.
Most people know that the saturated and trans fats that are found in meats and processed foods are bad for their heart, but you may not know that they are also bad for your brain too! Unsaturated fats like those found in fish, nuts and most vegetable oils can actually improve your cognition. A recent study found that people who ate large quantities of saturated and trans fats had an increased risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. In the study, those people who ate the more unsaturated fats had a decreased risk of getting the disease.
In particular, eating fish has been showing to decrease Alzheimer's risk and protect other memory functions. This may be because fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have beneficial effects on health.