We encourage you to share these tips with your colleagues and students.
Forget-Me-Not : Improving Cognitive Functions
Are you experiencing forgetfulness? Have you experienced talking to an acquaintance and throughout the conversation you were trying to recall the person’s name? And to make matters worse, you cannot remember what the conversation was all about because you were busy thinking?
Forgetfulness is often associated with old age, but modern age is also causing people in midlife or even younger generations to become forgetful. In this day and age, there are tons of things that we are expected to remember like phone numbers, passwords, PIN numbers and countless others on top of obligations and responsibilities at home, our jobs, school and more. Forgetfulness may also be due to lack of sleep, stress, distractions, information overload, or medical issues such as migraine, depression, or thyroid disease, to name a few.
The process of cognitive decline begins as early as age 30 and becomes noticeable after the age of 50.1 Cognitive decline is a part of normal aging process but it is annoying and worrisome. If you are experiencing short-term memory loss not associated with diseases that cause forgetfulness, how do you boost your brain function besides getting enough sleep, writing down reminders, and prioritizing tasks?
Doing physical and mental exercises are proven to enhance and protect brain function and cognition. Studies performed on both human and non-human animals have proven that physical activities in the form of aerobic exercise can improve some aspects of cognition and performance.2 Mental exercises such as playing word games and quizzes like Scrabble, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles can exercise the brain, keeping it from mental decline.
Using tools that will help you remember things such as calendars and to-do lists, reminders, alarms and timers on your cell phone or other devices created for that purpose are great ways to help your memory.
Develop Routines. Place things that you use on a regular basis at the same place like keys, wallet, reading glasses and medicines. Maintain a consistent eating and sleeping schedule. For example, go to bed at 9:00 pm each night and wake up at 7:00 am each morning. Eat your meals at a set time for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Learning new skills– requires one to be productively engaged in demanding mental activities such as photography can help sharpen memory. Although, less demanding activities such as playing brain games, learning a new hobby, socializing and being active can stimulate the brain to help prevent cognitive decline, learning new skills continuously challenges the brain to work harder which provides a higher chance of improving memory.3
Practice Attentive listening-. If you are constantly distracted or your mind is busy while communicating with somebody else, the less likely you will retain information. Connect with the speaker without interrupting; recapping what was said regularly, using connecting words and the right body language.
Simplifying your life- Technology allows people to do multiple things at once to increase productivity but there are disadvantages like forgetfulness, stress, or increased errors. Slowing down,getting plenty of rest, meditating and just being in the moment can help the brain from overworking and allowing it to recover.
1brainHQ. “Memory Lapses.” brainHQ n.d. http://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/memory/memory-lapses (aAccessed Dec. 15, 2015).
2Hillman, Charles H., Kirk I. Erickson, and Arthur F. Kramer. “Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9.1 (2008): 58-65.Nature. http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v9/n1/abs/nrn2298.html. Accessed April 17, 2014.
3Learning New Skills Keeps an Aging Mind sharp. Psychologicalscience.org. http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/learning-new-skills-keeps-an-aging-mind-sharp.html (Accessed December 15, 2015)