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If our brains were computers, we'd simply add a chip to upgrade our memory. The human brain, however, is more complex than even the most advanced machine, so improving our memory isn’t quite so easy. Just as it takes effort to build physical fitness, so too does boosting brain power.
A strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you’re a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age, there are lots of things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance. Read on for some of the most promising ways to keep your mind and memory in top form.
They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to the brain, scientists have discovered that this old adage simply isn’t true. The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.
The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory.
Just as an athlete relies on sleep and a nutrition-packed diet to perform his or her best, your ability to remember increases when you nurture your brain with a good diet and other healthy habits.
Treating your body well can enhance your ability to process and recall information. Physical exercise increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.Exercise may also enhance the effects of helpful brain chemicals and protect brain cells.
When you’re sleep deprived, your brain can’t operate at full capacity. Creativity, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking skills are compromised. Whether you’re studying, working, or trying to juggle life’s many demands, sleep deprivation is a recipe for disaster.
But sleep is critical to learning and memory in an even more fundamental way. Research shows that sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, with the key memory-enhancing activity occurring during the deepest stages of sleep.
When you think of ways to improve memory, do you think of “serious” activities such as wrestling with the New York Times crossword puzzle or mastering chess strategy or do more lighthearted pastimes—hanging out with friends or enjoying a funny movie—come to mind? If you’re like most of us, it’s probably the former. But countless studies show that a life that’s full of friends and fun comes with cognitive benefits.
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