Brain Health Tip (archive)
Memory Tip: Improve recall by reading aloud - Read that which you want to remember out-loud (to yourself or someone else), and you are likely to recall more compared to reading silently.
Why does this work? Reading aloud elicits what is known as the "production effect." "Producing" the information yourself creates additional pathways to long-term memory, thus creating a "distinctive encoding record" in long-term memory. Reading out-loud will help you pay better attention (the precursor to remembering). Reading aloud is also a form of repetition, one of the keys to moving information from short to long-term memory. There is even evidence that suggests reading aloud to another person (or even to your pet) can boost the production effect even more, perhaps because the element of communication or having an "audience" is added to the mix.
Here's another way to think about it. If you'e ever repeated a list out loud, you may have noticed that you remember it more easily and completely, especially if you've read it to someone else. The same is true for more lengthy, more complex material. Why not give it a try as a personal experiment, to see if this simple strategy works for you?
Memory Tip: Take care of your brain by eating like a Mediterranean - Eat lots of whole foods including lots of vegetables the color of the rainbow; go easy on the saturated fats, no trans-fats; and minimize the added sugars. Eat mostly plant-based foods including veggies, fruit, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.
You don't have to make changes all at once. Start with something small. For example if you drink sugary drinks, substitute (at least some of) them with water flavored with berries. My favorite is to mash a handful of raspberries in the bottom of a pitcher and add fresh-filtered water.
Why does this work? Research has shown that what's good for the heart is good for the brain (i.e. a largely plant-based diet). More recently the research is showing that what's good for the gut is also good for the brain. For example, statistics show that people who are diagnosed with diabetes are significantly more likely to get some form of dimentia. It is suggested that for this and other diseases, poor nutrition is the common link. So increase your chances of maintaining a healthy brain by paying close attention to your diet.
Memory Tip: Storytelling to Remember Names-Few people say they are good at remembering manes; so if this is a challenge for you, you’re in good company. One strategy is to make up a brief story with the name of the person you want to remember that includes some distinctive quality about that person. Keep in mind the story you create only has to have meaning to you, and you don’t have to share it.
As a favor to others, come up with a story to use when introducing yourself. For example, “My name is Hope, like the “Hope diamond”-bright and sparkly.” And when I tell the story, I smile and hold up my engagement ring to make the story visual, animated and fun. (People often use Hope, Faith and Charity as a mnemonic for my name, and guess what; one time out of three they remember the correct one!)
Why does this work? A story is engaging, it gives meaning or association to that which you want to remember. This technique makes it easier to bring the information from short-term memory to long-term memory, thus making it easier to retrieve. Using creativity, humor and exaggeration will make a name more memorable. So give this a try with your name and with those whom you meet.
Memory Tip: Repeat in order to remember
Have you ever gone into a room to get something), only to forget what you were looking for? There’s a simple solution. Once you decide what you’re getting (maybe a pair of scissors repeat (to yourself or out-loud) what you’re looking for (i.e., “scissors, scissors”). It works every time, as long as you don’t get interrupted!
Why does this work? This is an example of repetition in order to keep a small piece of information in our short-term (or working) memory, just long enough to accomplish our desired task. Using repetition helps to prohibit anything else from pushing this piece of information out of short-term memory.
Memory Tip: The problem of remembering names
Have you ever been introduced to someone, only to “forget” their name seconds later? Next time, really focus on that person and hearing their name. For example, imagine their name spelled out flashing in lights on their forehead as a way to improve your “attenionability.”
Why does this work? Learning a person’s name (or any new piece of information) depends on paying attention in the first place in order to put it into our short-term, or working memory. Often when we can’t recall a name of a person we just met it’s because we were distracted (by thinking about what you will say, by admiring what s/he is wearing, etc.), and therefore, not paying attention in the first place. Train yourself to really pay attention from the get-go, and see if your recall improves.
Memory Tip: Distract In Order to Remember
We all experience "tip-of-the-tongue syndrome." A quick cure is to say (out-loud or to yourself) "I'll come to back me," and then move on. You may be surprised at how quickly the memory returns.
Why does this work? By removing the stress created by trying to recall a piece of information that is alluding us, we allow our brain to focus on retrieving the memory that is stored in long-term memory.