4 useful strategies to keep your memory sharp

Creating a strong memory happens in several important phases. You need to encode the memory, store it properly, and be able to retrieve it later. We'll give you 4 tips to better use your brain and improve your memory.

4 useful strategies to keep your memory sharp

1. Focus on one thing at a time.

  • No multitasking! Your brain needs at least eight seconds of focused attention to "process" information and send it successfully into long-term storage.

2. Discover and use your natural learning style

  • You're a visual learner if you tend to say "see what I mean" in conversation or if you look at the pictures or diagrams most when assembling something.
  • You're an auditory learner if you prefer verbal or written instructions.
  • Use your natural style when learning new information to make memory formation easier.

3. Rehearse

  • Hoping to remember the names of the five new people you met at the party last night? Practice them tonight, and again tomorrow morning as you recall their faces.
  • Brain scientists call this spaced rehearsal and say that it refreshes memory more effectively than trying to hastily recall the names five minutes before your next meeting.

4. Play brain games

  • In a study of 469 healthy people over age 75, researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that those who often played board games, read books and magazines, played a musical instrument, or did crossword puzzles were less likely to develop dementia than those who rarely did these things.
  • There are also dozens of books and computer games on the market with special mental exercises that promise to make your brain younger. There's some scientific evidence that these may work, but experts say you probably don't need a special game to fine-tune your skills.
  • Try to challenge your brain in as many different ways as possible: learn a new language or a new musical instrument; if you're a whiz at crossword puzzles, cross-train with math problems such as Sudoku; and if you're a math whiz, take up crossword puzzles.
  • Try new hobbies and find daily ways to wake up your brain cells. You could take a new route to the supermarket, comb your hair with your non-dominant hand, or eat breakfast for lunch.

Few things are more frustrating than having something that you just can't remember. Use these tips to keep your brain young and your memory sharp.

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