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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!

Episodic memory is the memory of the time, place and emotional state of events that you experienced. The formation of episodic memories is closely tied to the hippocampus. Without the hippocampus, you would not be able to remember events that you experienced, although you might still be able to use procedural memory to learn new tasks.

It is believed that the hippocampus stores episodic memories for a short time, after which they are consolidated into the cortex. Many researchers believe that episodic memories are transformed into semantic memories over time. This would explain why old memories are often recalled as a kind of pre-written story instead of as a memory of the actual event.

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The reason that people need to sleep remains mostly a mystery, but many scientists believe that memory consolidation is part of it. Memory consolidation is the process by which recent memories are strengthened into long term memories. It is believed that memories are stored in the hippocampus for a short time, and that they are transferred to the cortex as part of consolidation.

An important thing to take away from this is that sleep reinforces learning. If you sleep after learning some material, you will remember it better than if you did not sleep. Thus, it is not advisable to study and take an exam on the same day. If you can sleep in between, the memories will have a chance to become consolidated and you will have better recall.

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Procedural memory is the memory that involves the learning of a skill. If you learn to knit a sweater, then you are using your procedural memory. This type of memory is often used without thinking about it. For example, if you have learned how to ride a bike, you no longer have to consciously think about pedaling; your body just does it. Procedural memory is very long lasting. Once we learn something in this way, it is very difficult to unlearn it. Hence the phrase, "It's like riding a bike."

Some evidence seems to show that the cerebellum and basal ganglia are the parts of the brain that are primarily responsible for this type of memory and that the hippocampus has little involvement. This may be why people with Alzheimer's Disease rarely lose their procedural memory.

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The cerebellum is a small section of the brain that sits in back, next to where the spinal cord attaches to the brain. Although the cerebellum constitutes only about 10% of the brain by volume, it contains nearly 80% of the brain's neurons. This part of the brain is especially important for the integration of sensory perception and motor output. The cerebellum monitors the position of the body and communicates with the motor cortex to fine-tune the signals sent to the muscles. People who have damage to their cerebellum show problems with coordination and movement. The cerebellum is also important for the cognitive functions of attention, language, music and other sensory tasks.

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Naturally, people pay more attention to the things that interest them. If you like sports, you are going to remember teams and stats much more readily than someone who is not interested in sports. There are two ways to use this fact to your advantage when you need to remember something that is not interesting.

One way is to try to make the material more meaningful by looking for ways that it is similar to something that you enjoy.

Another way is to use rewards and punishments. For example, if you can recall 10 items from your flashcards or study for a full hour, you could reward yourself with a study break and a piece of candy. Some people may give themselves the reward even if they fail the task, so if you have trouble being honest with yourself ask someone to dispense the rewards for you.

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