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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!

A neurotransmitter is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate the electrical signals between neurons. Neurotransmitters exist in little pockets, inside the nerve cells, called vesicles. When an electrical signal triggers the neuron, these vesicles float to the cell membrane and release their neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters then jump across the synapse and bind to receptors on adjacent neurons.

How the adjacent neuron reacts to the neurotransmitters depends on a number of factors. There are many different types of neurotransmitters produce different results. Some cause the adjacent neuron to trigger and others suppress triggering. It is the combined effect of all the neurotransmitters that determines what happens to the signal.

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Of the five senses, humans use their sense of sight the most. Sometimes we can become so dependent on our eyes that we hardly pay any attention to our other senses. One way to encourage your mind to pay attention to the other senses is to close your eyes. Here are a couple activities that you can do with your eyes closed.

Take a Shower
Getting the water temperature just right, finding the shampoo, and toweling off are simple tasks that become difficult when you cant see what you are doing.

Get Dressed
Naturally, you won't be able to see colors with your eyes shut, so you'll have to pick out a matching outfit by feel.

In doing these exercises you well probably notice things that you never noticed before when you could rely on sight. For example, you may notice the different shapes of the bottles in the shower. Focusing your attention on your other senses will improve your memory by teaching you how to create strong associations for things that you want to remember.

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Previously we explained how the Peg Mnemonic System works. The one limitation of this system is that it is difficult to construct lists for numbers greater than 20. Here are two methods that will work for longer lists:

Seasons
This technique will let you memorize up to 40 items. You still use the original 10 items described earlier, but you will supplement this with the seasons in the year (1-10 will be Spring, 11-20 will be Summer, 21-30 will be Fall, and 31-40 will be Winter). You just need to associate the three items (the word, the pegword, and the season) into one visualization. For example, the pegwords for 34 would be a door (four) and a winter scene (31-40). So, if you wanted to memorize "carrots" at this spot, you would make an association with all three things (carrots, door and winter).

Alphabet Pegwords
This system picks concrete nouns that start with each letter of the alphabet. The disadvantage of using these words is that non-sequential retrieval becomes a little more difficult (you may not necessarily know the 17th letter of the alphabet), but it does give you a simple way to remember up to 26 items.

Example:
A -- Apple
B -- Boy
C -- Cat
D -- Dog
...

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The peg mnemonic system uses paired associations, just like the link and loci systems, with one advantage - you can recall the items in a non-sequential order.

To use the system, you will need to pre-memorize a set of concrete nouns that you will use to make your associations. These concrete nouns are chosen to correspond to the numbers in a list. This example list even has a nursery rhyme about it, "one two buckle my shoe, three four shut the door..."

One -- Bun
Two -- Shoe
Three -- Tree
Four -- Door
Five -- Hive
Six -- Sticks
Seven -- Heaven
Eight -- Gate
Nine -- Wine
Ten -- Hen

Once you have this list memorized (the rhymes with the numbers will make this much easier), you can use it to make visual association just as you do for the link or loci systems. Now, if you need to recall the eighth item, simply recall the word for eight (gate) and recall what you have associated with that word. Peg words up to the number 20 can easily be made to remember longer lists.

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What you eat can have a large impact on how your mind operates. After all, the brain accounts for 20% of your body's total energy consumption. The brain needs a steady supply of glucose throughout the day to keep in tip-top working order, so be sure to not skip any meals, especially breakfast.

Salads contain antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, which help your brain stay healthy.

Yogurt contains the amino acid tyrosine, which is needed for some essential brain chemistry.

Fish contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent dementia and keep your brain working in tip-top shape.

Curry contains a spice called turmeric which can help prevent Alzheimer's Disease.

Try to avoid junk food high in sugar and fat. There have been some studies that imply a connection between junk food and mental disorders such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism.

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