Lots of people for lots of years have been telling me to improve my memory. I told them I would and then went blithely on my forgetful way.
Little did they know that strategic forgetting can be an excellent labor saving device.
Two things have changed my thinking on improving my memory. The first is that I actually began to forget words, struggling with word recall, which is a signal that my brain is reaching the status of Senior Brain, and the second was that my 11 year old boy has very astutely picked up on my forgetfulness as a labor saving device, and put it to excellent use, which is frustrating.
So to all of you who felt equally as frustrated with me, my apologies.
But before I could work with my son on the use of this strategy, I had to remember what his chores were, so I began to search improve my memory tools.
I remember (honest!) using the Harry Lorayne tools as a kid, searching for ways to become a super star, so I could have started there, using the traditional association and mnemomic tools, but didn't go that route because there have been some wonderful breakthroughs in understanding how the brain grows new brain cells, which is called neurogenesis, and how neurons, whether new or old, connect, which is called neuroplasticity.
It turns out that if I attend to my brain's fitness, I can make all the different kinds of memory more efficient and effective.
Sort of like working out the physical body in preparation for an athletic endeavor, I work out the brain for memory endeavors, by taking care of the pillars of brain fitness.
Those pillars are described clearly and conscisely by Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan in their easy to remember book Brainfit for Life. The pillars of brain fitness, and therefore the pillars of improving my memory are, physical activity/exercise, nutrition, including lots of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acid, sleep, (yes, naps are good, but not on the job), stress management, and novel learning experiences.
If those pillars are attended to regularly, then neurons are poised to form new connections and to keep them, which is what memory is, simply a number of neurons connected.
A most interesting aspect of the pillars of brain fitness to me is the novel learning experience pillar, as most of the writers say that the kind of learning most helpful is the kind of learning we experience when learning a new language or new musical instrument, with increasing complexity, and appropriate levels of feedback.
If you are like me, you probably do not have a lot of free time to spend practicing a new instrument, or vocabulary lessons.
There are some computerized brain fitness tools that definitely fit the novel learning experience criterion and the 'improve my memory' criterion.
Our theory here is that increased neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are very important aspects of improving your memory.
I have tried the following three computerized brain fitness programs, because the research associated with them or done using them, in this case the IMPACT study on the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, is generating some positive vibrations from scientists and participants alike. The Posit Science program also helped with my word recall issues, and the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Program is addictive. The research associated with it, which Evans and Burghardt discuss, called the PNAS study says that it is possible to increase your fluid intelligence by using the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro.
What Mind Sparke taught me is that my attention wanders very quickly, and if my attention wanders, of course anything in short term memory will not get moved to long term memory, and no improving my memory happens.
In other words, I can practice some memory improvement and brain fitness kinds of games between phone calls or clients. Want to try them out?
Very early in my personal growth experience, a wise person taught me to use the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was resentful or afraid and that phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
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