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Tools and Tricks for Memory Retention
by Roger On May 24, 2017

So, your memory is no good. At least that’s what you learned last week, anyway. But, as promised, there are some helpful tools to improve your memory that we’ll go over this week. So put your thinking caps on, and get reading.

Not to beat a dead horse, but we know by now that rote memorization is an imperfect system. Simply going over information repeatedly isn’t going to help anybody in the long run. But what does work? Most people have an easier time remembering information if they associate images with that information. That’s because your brain processes an image much better than repetition.

Imagery and Memorization

Last week we did a little exercise by giving you a list and telling you to memorize all the things on it. Taking that same list, we’re going to split it up into four lists of five items, and number them.

| 1. a unicorn | 6. beer | 11. chopsticks | 16. candles
| 2. electrical outlet | 7. hockey stick | 12. roses | 17. wizard
| 3. tricycle | 8. spider | 13. black cat | 18. golf green
| 4. truck | 9. baseball | 14. gold | 19. sauna
| 5. hand | 10. dime | 15. dollar sign | 20. dartboard
Now, we’re going to do something a little different than last time. With each item, we are going to really focus on an image in our mind. Don’t just skim over these things, really take your time and you’ll get the best outcome. However, make sure not to study the list for more than 3 minutes.

1. See a brilliant white unicorn with his 1 horn.
2. See the beige electrical outlet with its 2 slots.
3. See the red tricycle with its 3 black rubber wheels and a 3 year old kid on it.
4. See the truck with its 4 wheels, its 4 doors, and the for sale sign in the window.
5. See your hand with its 5 fingers.
6. See that 6-pack of beer (you choose your favorite brand).
7. See the wooden hockey stick shaped like a 7.
8. See that big black spider with its 8 legs.
9. See that round baseball being tossed around by the 9 players on the field for 9 innings.
10. See that 10 cents, the thin, silver, shiny dime.

Now that we’re halfway through the list, take a little break. Refresh each of the images in your mind once more before moving on.

11. See those thin chopsticks that look like the number 11 being pulled out of their wrapper.
12. See those 12 beautiful red roses in a bouquet.
13. See that black cat on Friday the 13th.
14. Vividly see that 14-carat gold coin (or bar or nugget or ring; you choose).
15. Take the two digits of number 15 and squeeze them together into a dollar sign.
16. See 16 flaming candles on a birthday cake. Maybe even sing the song…
17. See that young wizard with the round glasses graduating from Hogwarts at age 17.
18. See that golf green with its perfectly cropped green grass on the 18th hole.
19. See 19 sweaty guys in that sauna.
20. See that round, light-up dartboard with the 20 scoring stripes and the number 20 on the top.

Now that you’re through the whole list, just take a minute to review. Now make a list 1-20 and see how much of the list you can remember. Better than before? It’s amazing how well your mind can retain information when you do it the right way! Even though some of the images weren’t directly related to the number, you were still able to remember them. For many more exercises just like this, check out my book Train Your Brain For Success.

Left Brain or Right Brain. Which is Better?
by On March 8, 2017

For the most part, the two sides of our brain work differently in the way that information is processed. In fact, most people lean towards one way of thinking more than the other. However, that doesn’t mean that one way is better than the other. But what exactly does it mean to be “left brained” or ” right brained” anyway?

The Lefties

Interestingly, it is said that people who are more logical and analytical favor their left hemisphere. Do you love making lists and planning things out? I know I do. That’s also a characteristic of the left side. Typically, if you’re left brained it means you are skilled at math or science and like sequencing ideas. Also, you’d be more prone to rational thought and make decisions without getting feeling or emotions in the way. Everything has to be well-documented and the left brained likes to read directions. Another interesting trait is that they are dog people. Although, I don’t know how much merit there is to that one. In addition, the lefties also have a different learning style. They enjoy learning in order, or sequences and are very realistic. In a classroom, they like to work by themselves.

The Righties

On the other hand, it is said that those who favor the right brain are the creative ones. And, there is some truth to that. When it comes to planning, they definitely prefer to live more spontaneously. Perhaps the right brained are more disorganized, even. They tend to think and act on their feelings rather than rational thought. In general, they are much more emotional. But, like I said they are more creative. Usually, they’re good at sports, enjoy writing non-fiction, and love music. Not to mention most enjoy creating art in some form or another. A right brained person probably doesn’t like reading directions and solves problems intuitively. Additionally, they are said to be cat lovers. When it comes to learning, they thrive with hands-on activities and with visuals. They love working on projects in groups and interacting with others. Also, they think more about the big picture than the small details.

Two Become One

Reading both lists, I definitely have characteristics of both and wouldn’t necessarily say I’m one or the other. The same is probably true for a lot of people. The key is to strengthen the side of your brain that isn’t favored. Who says you can’t write a non-fiction story if you’re a left brainer. Just like anything, the more you practice the better you’ll become.

Do you Remember? Brain Boosting Tips
by On February 22, 2017
I’ve never encountered someone with a perfect memory. Not that I can remember, anyway. Everybody is a little bit different when it comes to memory retention. But there are ways to improve your memory, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting something important.

Workout your Brain 

Firstly, just like a regular workout, you need to stimulate your brain in different ways to keep it healthy. The more time you spend working out your brain, the better your memory will get. However, the activity should be something new to you, that’s how you strengthen your brain. In addition, a great brain exercise will be something that is challenging and requires your full attention. Find activities that start at an easy level, and get progressively more difficult as you improve. Most importantly, find activities that are not only challenging but interesting to you.

Workout your Body

Second, physical exercise is just as important as mental exercise. So don’t neglect the gym! Staying active will ensure that your brain stays sharp. Not only does exercise increase the oxygen to your brain, but it also reduces stress. As a general rule, any sort of exercise that gets your blood pumping is good for your brain. Also, a morning workout can help get rid of morning fog and prep your brain for the rest of the day.

Get to Bed

In order to avoid sleep deprivation, you should be getting a solid 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night. As a matter of fact, getting even a few hours a sleep can negatively affect your memory. For this reason, make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Don’t break your routine, even if it’s a weekend and you feel like sleeping in. Additionally, melatonin is a hormone that makes you sleepy and is suppressed by certain light. Try to avoid any sort of screen such as a TV or phone at least an hour before bed. Also, limit your caffeine intake. Needing caffeine can be a vicious cycle, keeping you up at night but then you might need it to wake up the next day.

Hang Out With Friends

Most people are pretty sociable beings. Some good news for those chatterboxes, meaningful relationships with others is very beneficial to memory retention. In fact, there have been studies that show those with the most active social calendar have a slower rate of memory decline.

De-stress

Not only is stress, well, stressful, but it can also lead to memory loss. Continued stress over a long period of time will destroy brain cells. To combat this, try to focus on one task at a time and don’t forget to relax. Many find solace in meditation which has been said to actually improve memory.

Laughter is the Best Medicine 

It’s true, laughter is great for your emotional health and can help with memory retention. Learn to laugh at your embarrassing moments and share with others. Also, surround yourself with others that can find humor in everything. You know what they say about laughter being contagious.

Diet

For the most part, your diet should consist of a nice balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and of course healthy fats. Eating this way is good for your brain and will help with memory retention.
Tips to remember what you read
by On November 3, 2016

The most frustrating thing about reading is forgetting something you’ve just read. Despite how much you enjoy reading something, if it’s forgotten the next minute it can disappointing. Reading and not retaining any information almost makes it pointless. When you read something to gain knowledge, it’s important to store the information.

THREE MEMORY COMPONENTS

To any reader, there are three memory components that are the most important. If you want to retain information after reading follow these suggestions. According to specialists, memories are built on repetition, association and Impression. These three components are responsible for memory retention. This is because they make it easier for people to memorize information. When used together, the three components give the reader an effective way to retain information after reading.

Impression. In life, impressions last longer than words. When reading, try and picture the information. Create an impression of what you’ve just learned.  When you watch a movie, visual images are hard to forget. Most people remember movies scenes vividly. While it’s almost impossible to narrate a scene from a book. To create an impression while reading, create a mental impression for the material.

Repetition. The best way to remember things is repetition. Creating powerful images while reading, consistently, is an exercise worth doing. Go back and re-read important information, to insure it really sticks. When an exercise is repeated more often, it becomes second nature. Re-reading important sections makes it easier to retain less important sections too.

Association. Association is an easy way to retain information. When you come across a foreign concept, relate it to something you’re familiar with. This is a technique that makes it difficult to forget information.

NOTE TAKING

There are some basic reading tips that we have all learned. One of those being, the importance of jotting down key points when reading. Taking notes will enhance memory retention, and make things easier to remember. You could also highlight bits of information you find useful.

INTRODUCE MATERIALS TO OTHERS

Nothing helps create an experience when learning quite like sharing with others. Talking to people about a particular topic is an effective way of remembering information. In a conversation, one has the chance to address the topic with a level of enthusiasm that goes a long way in creating a lasting impression and creating memories. When we share with others, we explain the meaning of what we’ve learned. This will makes you understand exactly what you read and create longer lasting memories.

FAMILIARIZE WITH THE TOPIC

You cannot just pick up a book and get straight to reading. First, you will need to gather some background information on the topic. When you have a basic understanding of the topic, then it will be easier to understand the reading. Researching a topic first is an important tip to remembering information. Your level of education doesn’t matter, if you’ve never read about a topic before.

SKIM THE MATERIAL

Before you start reading, it’s important to pass through it first. When skimming, you’ll get an idea of the topics and keywords. This will help you retain information while reading.

FOCUSED READING CULTURE

Try to focus on what you’re reading, and block out any interruptions. Read everything from beginning to end, and don’t skip anything.

7 Tricks to Improve Your Memory
by Roger On October 6, 2016

It was once believed that our brain function peaked during early adulthood and then slowly declined, leading to lapses in memory and brain fog during our golden years. Now it’s said that our modern lifestyle plays a significant role in contributing to cognitive decline, which is why exposure to toxins, chemicals, poor diet, lack of sleep, stress, and much more can actually hinder the function of your brain. The flip side is also true in that a healthy lifestyle can support your brain health and even encourage your brain to grow new neurons, a process known as neurogenesis. Your brain’s hippocampus, i.e. the memory center, is especially able to grow new cells and it’s now known that your hippocampus regenerates throughout your entire lifetime (even into your 90s), provided you give it the tools to do so.

These “tools” are primarily lifestyle-based, which is wonderful news. You don’t need an expensive prescription medication or any medical procedure to boost your brain and your memory. Simply try out the following tricks to improve your memory.

EAT RIGHT

The foods you eat – and don’t eat – play a crucial role in your memory. Fresh vegetables are essential, as are healthy fats and avoiding sugar and grain carbohydrates. You can find detailed information about nine foods for brain power here.

For instance, curry, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and walnuts contain antioxidants and other compounds that protect your brain health and may even stimulate the production of new brain cells. Increasing your animal-based omega-3 fat intake and reducing consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (think processed vegetable oils) in order to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, is also important. I prefer krill oil to fish oil, as krill oil also contains astaxanthin, which not only protects the omega-3 fats from oxidation but also appears to be particularly beneficial for brain health.

Another healthful fat for brain function is coconut oil. According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, or as a treatment for an already established case.

EXERCISE

Exercise encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by stimulating nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections and protecting them from damage.

During exercise, nerve cells release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. One in particular, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health, and directly benefits cognitive functions, including learning.

A 2010 study on primates published in Neuroscience revealed that regular exercise not only improved blood flow to the brain but also helped the monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as non-exercising monkeys. This is a benefit researchers believe would hold true for people as well. In a separate one-year-long study, individuals who engaged in exercise were actually growing and expanding the brain’s memory center one to two percent per year, where typically that center would have continued to decline in size.

To get the most out of your workouts, I would recommend a comprehensive program that includes high-intensity interval exercise, strength training, stretching, and core work, along with regular intermittent movement.

STOP MULTITASKING

Used for decades to describe the parallel processing abilities of computers, multitasking is now shorthand for the human attempt to simultaneously do as many things as possible, as quickly as possible. Ultimately, multitasking may actually slow you down and make you prone to errors as well as make you forgetful.

Research shows you need about eight seconds to commit a piece of information to your memory, so if you’re talking on your phone and carrying in groceries and decide to put down your car keys, you’re most likely to forget where you left them. The opposite of multitasking would be mindfulness, which helps you achieve undistracted focus. Students who took a mindfulness class improved reading comprehension test scores and working memory capacity, as well as experienced fewer distracting thoughts.

If you find yourself trying to complete five tasks at once, stop yourself and focus on just one task. If distracting thoughts enter your head, remind yourself that these are only “projections,” not reality, and allow them to pass by without stressing you out. You can then end your day with a 10- or 15-minute meditation session to help stop your mind from wandering and relax into a restful sleep

PLAY BRAIN GAMES

If you don’t sufficiently challenge your brain with new, surprising information, it eventually begins to deteriorate. What research into brain plasticity shows us, however, is that by providing your brain with appropriate stimulus, you can counteract this degeneration. One way to challenge your brain is via ‘brain games,’ which you can play online via Web sites like Lumosity.com. Dr. Michael Merzenich, professor emeritus at the University of California, who I interviewed two years ago, has pioneered research in brain plasticity (also called neuroplasticity) for more than 30 years. He has also developed a computer-based brain-training program that can help you sharpen a range of skills, from reading and comprehension to improved memorization and more.

The program is called Brain HQ and the website has many different exercises designed to improve brain function and it also allows you to track and monitor your progress over time. While there are many similar sites on the Web, Brain HQ is one of the oldest and most widely used.

If you decide to try brain games, ideally it would be wise to invest at least 20 minutes a day, but no more than five to seven minutes is to be spent on a specific task. When you spend longer amounts of time on a task, the benefits weaken. According to Dr. Merzenich, the primary benefits occur in the first five or six minutes of the task. The only downside to brain games is that they may become just another “task” you need to fit into an already busy day. However, if you don’t enjoy brain games, you can also try learning a new skill or hobby (see below).

MASTER A NEW SKILL

Engaging in “purposeful and meaningful activities” stimulates your neurological system, counters the effects of stress-related diseases, reduces the risk of dementia and enhances health and well-being. A key factor necessary for improving your brain function or reversing functional decline is the seriousness of purpose with which you engage in a task. In other words, the task must be important to you, or somehow meaningful or interesting — it must hold your attention.

For instance, one study revealed that craft activities such as quilting and knitting were associated with decreased odds of having mild cognitive impairment. Another study, published earlier this year, found that taking part in “cognitively demanding” activities like learning to quilt or take digital photography enhanced memory function in older adults. The key is to find an activity that is mentally stimulating for you. Ideally this should be something that requires your undivided attention and gives you great satisfaction. It should be an activity that you look forward to doing, such as playing a musical instrument, gardening, building model ships, crafting or many others.

TRY MNEMONIC DEVICES

Mnemonic devices are memory tools to help you remember words, information or concepts. They help you to organize information into an easier-to-remember format. Try:

  • Acronyms (such as PUG for “pick up grapes”)
  • Visualizations (such as imagining a tooth to remember your dentist’s appointment)
  • Rhymes (if you need to remember a name, for instance, think “Shirley’s hair is curly)
  • Chunking, which is breaking up information into smaller “chunks” (such as organizing numbers into the format of a phone number)

GET A GOOD NIGHTS’S SLEEP

Research from Harvard indicates that people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections between distantly related ideas after sleeping, but few realize that their performance has actually improved. Sleep is also known to enhance your memory and help you “practice” and improve your performance of challenging skills. In fact, a single night of sleeping only four to six hours can impact your ability to think clearly the next day.

The process of brain growth, or neuroplasticity, is believed to underlie your brain’s capacity to control behavior, as well as learning and memory. Plasticity occurs when neurons are stimulated by events, or information, from the environment. However, sleep and sleep loss modify the expression of several genes and gene products that may be important for synaptic plasticity. Furthermore, certain forms of long-term potentiation, a neural process associated with the laying down of learning and memory, can be elicited in sleep, suggesting synaptic connections are strengthened while you slumber.

As you might suspect, this holds true for infants too, and research shows that naps can give a boost to a baby’s brainpower. Specifically, infants who slept in between learning and testing sessions had a better ability to recognize patterns in new information, which signals an important change in memory that plays an essential role in cognitive development. There’s reason to believe this holds true for adults, too, as even among adults, a mid-day nap was found to dramatically boost and restore brainpower. You can find 33 tips to help you get the shut-eye you need here.