It feels good if we have excellent memory power, but are we good at it every time? It would be certainly an embarrassing situation when you fail to recognize a person whom you had met long back and met after years. Sorrowfully the situation would be still worse when the other person could identify you. The good part is you still remember the person because of your long term memory; however, you cannot recognize at present due to lack of adequate recall in the past. But how does the other person could do it instantly? Does he/she recall you often? Well, the answer is ‘NO’. Point is various factors will influence the recalling capacity of oneself.

For instance, When you prepare hard for your exams and flood your brain hugely with multiple inputs; however you don’t do it frequently, and trying to make it possible at the end moment would certainly won’t be a supportive one during the day of examination. In spite of a familiarized topic, you feel stuck and void to recall the content. What does this mean? Does this show you lack memory power? Definitely not. Memory power is like an art. It requires tremendous and consistent practice to tune the brain in order to recall the contents instantly at the required time. Other environmental, physical, physiological and psychological process also are major contributors to one’s own cognitive performance.

Even for the pathological conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia etc, it is possible to keep patients’ comfortably. By helping them to come out of that ‘ lost feel ‘ with proper family bonding and by developing an emotional connection with them. In a research made at the institute of neuroscience and medicine, Germany, they found and stated that ” When relatives anchor on the premorbid personality, the perceived discontinuity of emotional reactions to stimuli triggering an emotional response in contrast to their own expectations gives rise to an extremely ambiguous situation. Training programmes should be developed for families to help them comprehend and respond to nonverbal emotional expression “.(1)

If an emotional bonding could do such magic on someone’s life, why can’t it is possible to develop or improvise your own cognitive skills with a few simple steps? After all, it is for you and your life. Let’s see how could we make it possible in reality.

Adequate sleep :

We all know how important sleep is and what detrimental effects it could create if someone deprives of sleep. Right from diabetes, hypertension, to other cardiovascular diseases and even cancer and immunity loss are prone for sleeplessness. As a part of memory power, sleep has a great role too. Disorientation, loss of memory, forgetfulness, anxiety, inability to accept the truth, egocentric, loss of motor skill co-ordination etc are all possible with lack of adequate sleep.

Generally, memory in the brain occurs in three processes called acquisition, consolidation and recall. When you experience a new thing ( could be learning something new, meeting someone, emotional strike, or anything ), those events are temporarily stored as short-term memory. However, this neuronal conversion of short term memory to a permanent long term one is called consolidation and it takes place predominantly during sleep. It’s just like encryption of your memory with the help of millions of neurons which occurs at hippocampus to the neocortex of the brain for safe storage and future usage.

sleep consolidation

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Greater you don’t sleep, higher will be your recall memory loss. For an adult, it is ideal to get sleep of 7-9 hours per day. Even though in this fast-paced world, it is not possible for everyone to achieve this goal each day and it tends to fluctuate often. It is better to set it as a goal and try to reach it for better living.

Proper diet :

In general healthy, nourished, fresh source of foods are found to activate the neurons rather than oily, junk, processed, stored and adulterated food products. To highlight in particular, green leaves and vegetables, foods rich in antioxidants , cocoa, fish liver oil which is rich in omega 3 fatty acids ( for vegetarians, some source of omega 3 FAs are seaweeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, beans, spinach, broccoli, soybeans ) turmeric, Vitamin D rich diet (2), raw fruits, lean proteins are healthy way of activating your brain cells.

However, it is necessary to avoid refined carbs, saturated fats like cheese, butter, ice creams, animal fats etc, high added sugars, tobacco and alcohol, recreational drugs, in order to keep mind and body fit and to improve memory power.

Not only the quality of food matters, but also quantity and the time at which you eat, for example, how early after wake up you starting your metabolism, are you practicing the habit of eating food at the late nights and how many hours of duration you give after your last meal before bed, will all determine your memory capacity. So it’s better not to fuss about your eating habits.

Give the necessary workouts to your brain:

It is essential to give significant workouts to your brain, it could be of physical or mental exercise. For instance, mental activities like playing chess, solving puzzles, learning new languages, developing new skills, exploring differently but healthily are all some best ways to effectively activate your brain. With continuous practise of such activities and when you incorporate such things as part of your life, it is pretty uncommon to lose memory. However, if you excel in something there is no point to keep repeating it at the same level, as it no way acts as a mental workout for your brain. The brain is similar to your muscle, more you feed with new things, greater and better will be the result.

Even though physical workouts has little effect on cognitive development, it has proven to enhance motor memory skills and other related activities like the memory of driving vehicle, remembering destination and location that you had seen long back etc.

Meditation is an ancient way of Vedic practice which has proven to be one effective way to activate millions of neurons in a single stretch. However, it requires proper guidance for one’s to follow and practice meditation as it involves many scientific connections. If you have a proper mentor, then meditation is one far better option to improve memory skills. Not only for cognitive development but also it creates positivity as a whole within you.

Avoid depression and include laughter :

Stress is one leading cause to create detrimental effects on health in today’s world and memory loss is nowhere exceptional. Try to identify the stressful conditions that troubles you and get away from it. Even it has some emotional connection and you don’t realize it as stress, it is important to understand that anything that takes away your sleep and peace is stress and it is necessary to get rid of that.

Include laugh wherever possible in your life, it’s just a simple mantra to keep your body and mind fit and healthy. Spread positivity around you but don’t expect, in turn, in this way, you limit expectation and add more value to your life and to your loved ones. ” Laughter is the best medicine ” is incredibly a true statement and you will experience it soulfully when you are surrounded with caring, loving and fun-filled people.

Pay attention to your health issues:

Not only Alzheimer’s and dementia could cause memory loss, but studies have shown that certain other health conditions like diabetes and hypertension could cause transient memory loss.  Hormonal imbalance like the decreased level of estrogen, notably during menopause and low testosterone levels in males are seeming to have a connection with a reduction in cognitive functions. Decrease level of thyroid hormone gives fatigue and lethargic activity and often cause forgetfulness, sluggish thinking and confusion.

Additionally, Certain medications like drugs for cold and allergy, antidepressant drugs have an impact on memory power, however, these are transient and reversible.

Finally, some practical steps to enhance your cognitive skills :

Intensify your focusing ability by keenly paying attention to the events, activities or knowledge you acquire. By doing so, you are probably improving your presence of mind and adding sense to the works you involve.

When coming to studies or academics, always try to simplify the complex content preferably with the reality, so that you can relate the concept much better and at the same time, it will stay in mind effortlessly. You could also use visual contents to learn difficult facts for a better understanding. Visual observation has better registration than hearing or reading. Whenever you read or hear content, try to visualize it and improve your imaginative capacity. This would certainly help for long term remembrance.

Repeat and practice are effective tools for better registration. Whenever you find it difficult in remembering something, rehearse it repeatedly and at one point in time, it will become your piece of cake. It’s so true that practice makes a man perfect!

Last but not least, try using mnemonics for tough and complicated structures. Mnemonics are nothing but using simple, most understandable and quickly relatable scenarios for intricate content. For example, to remember 7 coordinating conjunctions in English ( for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so ), mnemonics ‘ FANBOYS ‘ is used. Likewise, you can create your own mnemonics according to your comfort and understanding to make things easier.

Thus developing and retaining cognitive phenomena is not a difficult task to achieve providing that one has to make some extra effort to personalize it.

Article references from PMC/ PubMed :

Acute Exercise as an Intervention to Trigger Motor Performance and EEG Beta Activity in Older Adults

About Sleep’s Role in Memory

Meditation: Process and effects

Diabetes mellitus and cognitive impairments

Estrogen Effects on Cognitive and Synaptic Health Over the Lifecourse

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