Are there such things as memory strategies, and how do we evaluate their worth?
I remember reading Harry Lorayne memory books as a kid to make studying easier and faster, and the memory strategy I am sure was to learn how to be an expert, like my professors were.
Surely, they were able to memorize text books at a single glance.
Well, learning the Lorayne techniques took practice, which interfered with my party time, so I never did complete the book and achieve expert memorization status, and now that I am 62 and struggling occasionally with the "Senior Moment" kind of memory issue, my memory strategy has changed.
Luckily for me, so have the tools. We now have available some computerized brain fitness tools, some of which are tailored to the Senior Experience, like the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program, which help with memory.
Even better news is the discovery of neurogenesis which means we grow new brain cells every day, and significant advances in our understanding of neuroplasticity, which is the way our neurons form connections. That is what memories are, connections between neurons, and they can be improved by working out your brain.
The best memory strategy is to take care of the pillars of brain fitness, which, when attended to regularly, give us the best possible chance for neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
Never heard of the pillars of brain fitness? Then you should read Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans,Ph.D., and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., who are neuroscientists at the University of Michigan, and they write for the layperson.
You can get their e-book for $18.00, or $3.00 per chapter, and the information in their book is a great start toward developing a memory strategy.
The pillars of brain fitness are physical activity/exercise, nutrition including antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acid, getting good sleep, which is not as easy as it sounds, stress management, and novel learning experiences, which most writers suggest is asking your brain to learn a new language or a new musical instrument.
Those pillars are the prerequisites to any memory strategy, including Harry Lorayne's, because attending to them keeps the brain prepared to spring into attention, and to commit its neurogenetic and neuroplastic resources to memory formation.
Evans and Burghardt go into some detail about the benefits of attending to the pillars of brain fitness, and how exericse, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experience work, but I think their discussion of research about the dual n back task is their most important contribution as far as a memory strategy goes.
Based on their discussion, I searched out a commercial version of the dual n back task, and tried it out.
That program is fun, frustrating, even addictive, and it teaches you very quickly about how fast your attention wanders, and as you improve your ability to increase your working memory capacity, you will feel very excited.
Is it permanent learning or memory, you ask? The follow ups indicate that this particular novel learning experience provides an efficient and powerful alternative to learning a new instrument or language.
Michael Merzenich,Ph.D., is one of the world's leading experts in neuroplasticity, and his idea, which is particularly applicable to senior citizens, is to use sound to exercise the neurons involved in hearing, to help them grow connectivity, as it were.
I first read about his work in a book written by Norman Doidge,M.D., called The Brain That Changes Itself.
Since the publication of that book, the Merzenich program has been reported on in the IMPACT study, with memory results for Senior Citizens (not Boomers) that both the researchers and the participants were quite excited about.
So it would appear that memory strategies begin with taking care of the
pillars of brain fitness to enhance neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, and then try out your traditional memory strategies enhanced by computerized brain fitness programs.
The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age
Enough Exercise in Ten Minutes for Your Brain's Fitness?
Your Neurons Need Omega 3 Fatty Acid to Talk to One Another.
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