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6 ways to improve memory

December 4, 2018

Many elderly people struggle over time with long-term and short-term memories. There are different ways to help avoid a rapid decrease of memory skills according to various studies. Below are 6 ways which might help you strengthen your memory.

1. Meditate to improve working memory

Meditation helps you to become mindful and gain control over thoughts. It strengthens the ability to focus and sharpens the mind. You can use the app CALM to help you guide through meditation or just follow these easy steps:

–    The first step is committing to a regular, daily practice at a convenient time

–    Find a quiet place to relax and sit comfortably

–    Breathe deeply

–    Take a few moments to settle into your body. Gently observe your surrounding with your senses (excluding your vision)

–    Start focusing solely on breathing and the sensations around it. How the oxygen moves through your nose into your lungs and out again. Thoughts will come and go. Acknowledge them and let them go.

2. Drink coffee to improve your memory consolidation.

Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins, and his team of scientists found that caffeine has a positive effect on our long-term memory. Their research, published by the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that caffeine enhances certain memories at least up to 24 hours after it is consumed.

“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting have never been examined in detail in humans,” said Yassa, senior author of the paper. “We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.”

3. Eat berries for better long-term memory.

In a study published in the “Annals of Neurology” in April 2012, researchers analyzed blueberry and strawberry intake and memory capabilities of 122,000 nurses ages 30 to 55. Data had been collected for 25 years. Participants who ate the most blueberries and strawberries showed less memory decline in later adulthood, by up to 2.5 years than non-berry eaters. A smaller study featured in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” in 2010 showed that drinking blueberry juice daily for 12 weeks improved older adults’ learning and memory skills by 20 percent.

4. Exercise to improve your memory recall

In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets your heart and your sweat glands pumping, appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. Resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises did not have the same results.

The finding comes at a critical time. Researchers say one new case of dementia is detected every four seconds globally. They estimate that by the year 2050, more than 115 million people will have dementia worldwide.

5. Chew gum to make stronger memories

There are three main potential explanations, says Scholey. In March 2000, Japanese researchers showed that brain activity in the hippocampus, an area important for memory, increases while people chew – but it is not clear why.

Recent research has also found that insulin receptors in the hippocampus may be involved in memory. “Insulin mops up glucose in the bloodstream and chewing causes the release of insulin because the body is expecting food. If insulin receptors in the brain are involved in memory, we may have an insulin-mediated mechanism explaining our findings – but that is very, very speculative,” Scholey says.

But there could be a simpler answer. “One interesting thing we saw in our study was that chewing increased heart rate. Anything that improves delivery of things like oxygen in the brain, such as an increased heart rate, is a potential cognitive enhancer to some degree,” he says.

But a thorough explanation for the findings will have to account for why some aspects of memory improved but others did not, Graham says. She points out that gum-chewers’ ability to quickly decide whether complex images matched images they had previously been shown was no better than the controls’.

6. Sleep more to consolidate your memories.

Researchers have tested this process by teaching people new skills and then scanning their brains after a period with or without sleep. When people have a chance to sleep, for example, after practicing a skill similar to piano scales, the centers of the brain that control speed and accuracy are more active than those regions in people who haven’t slept. Scientists think that while we sleep, memories and skills are shifted to more efficient and permanent brain regions, making for higher proficiency the next day. In fact, sleeping shortly after learning new information has been shown to help retention. Some research indicates that when people learn before going to sleep (or even before taking a nap), they remember the information better in the long term.

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