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!
You may remember that most memory problems occur at the retrieval step in memory. There are four common explanations for why we often fail to retrieve the information that is recorded in our minds.
One type of forgetting is a result of repression. This usually only applies to traumatic or unpleasant experiences that we are motivated to forget.
Another type of memory problem is related to the accuracy of recalling certain memories. As we age, memories may become distorted to reflect the way we want to remember them or the way other people have remembered them. Sometimes couples who have been married for a long time remember things that happened to the other person as if they had happened to themselves.
A common type of forgetting is due to interference with another memory. Something you learn now may interfere with a memory from the past, and vice versa. The more similar the memories, the more likely they are to interfere with each other. For example, remembering this week's grocery list may make it harder to recall what was on last week's grocery list. Memory techniques can be employed to reduce interference.
The last type of forgetting is due to your inability to find the right cue to find the memory. This results in the "tip-of-the-tongue" phenomenon where you know that you know the information and you just need something to jog your memory.
Long-term memory differs from Short-Term Memory in several ways. From a practical point of view, it is mostly permanent and has an almost unlimited capacity. The recollection of childhood memories through hypnosis or other methods shows the permanence and large capacity of long-term memory. Additionally, it cannot be disrupted by things that can affect short-term memory. From a biological point of view, each type of memory has a different nerve chemistry and is affected differently by various drugs and diseases.
There are three types of long-term memory. The first is called "Procedural Memory." This is how you remember skills such as riding a bike or dialing a phone. The second type of memory is called "Semantic Memory." It helps you remember facts such as the color of your hair or your mother's name. The last type of memory is called "Episodic Memory." This kind is how you remember personal memories such as your last birthday party.
Each type of memory can benefit from different memory techniques. Most students are interested in improving and using their semantic memory. Elderly people are frequently more interested in their episodic memories and babies are very active in using their procedural memories.
In order to remember something, three things must happen. First, you must receive and learn a piece of information. This is the "Recording" step. Second, you must store this information in your brain (the "Retaining" step). Lastly, you must "Retrieve" the information out of your brain in a useful way.
The mind has a huge capacity to record and retain memories but it is not so good at retrieval. In fact, most memory failures occur at the retrieval step. Unfortunately, there is not much that you can do to directly improve retrieval, but learning good techniques for recording and retaining information will indirectly improve retrieval because the information will be more organized.
A good analogy is a library. If the books were randomly put onto shelves, it would be impossible to find anything. The library records each book in the card catalog and organizes the shelves so that retrieving a particular book is an easy task.
Proper "Recording" improves "Retrieval." Using good memory techniques will help you improve the way you organize information in your mind.
Memory performance may not decline with age as much as people think. Some studies show that visual memory skills decline with age but that verbal memory skills remain steady. Other studies show that people can compensate for decreased learning ability by drawing from their life experiences. Since older people have more experiences to draw from, they are better able to reconstruct a partially forgotten memory.
Probably the biggest thing that affects memory performance is mental activity. Elderly people who remain mentally active perform better on memory tests than those who do not exercise their mind on a regular basis. Use it or lose it!
The Loci system (the oldest mnemonic system on record) takes a little preparation and practice, but once you are ready, it can be very effective. The first step is to memorize a series of familiar locations in a particular order. You may choose to do a virtual walkthrough of your house (front door, hall, living room, kitchen, etc.), or you may choose to use places along your drive to work. The key is to make sure that you can conjure up a vivid mental image of each location. You must over-learn these locations because they are going to be your memory aid.
The second step is to take each item you are trying to memorize and associate it with a location using a vivid mental image. For example, take this list: clown, banana, giraffe, and moon. You might start by visualizing a clown jumping at you as you enter your front door followed by slipping on a banana as you walk down the hall. Then you could be surprised to see a giraffe eating a plant in your living room. You go into the kitchen and see a lunar eclipse through the window. Now, whenever you need to remember the list, you can do a mental walkthrough of your house and remember each visualization.
Once you have memorized your locations, they can be used over and over again to memorize different lists throughout your life. You can use any type of location, just make sure that each one is distinct.