Did you forget the names? Brain expert offers 7 exercises to avoid memory loss as we age

As we get older Our memory diminishes. This is an inherent assumption for many of us. However, according to neuroscientist Dr. Richard Restak, MD, a neurologist and clinical professor at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health, Deterioration is not inevitable.

Rustack has authored more than 20 books on mindfulness, and has decades of experience advising memory patients. One of his most recent books, The Complete Guide to Memory: The Science of Strengthening the Mind, includes tools such as Mental exercises, sleep habits, and diet that can help improve memory.

However, the specialist skips over this familiar area, considering every aspect of memory: How does it relate to creative thinking, what is the impact of technology and how does it form identity. “The aim of the book is to overcome everyday memory problems,” he says.

Over the years, people feel influenced by working memory It lies between immediate recall and long-term memory, and is associated with intelligence, focus, and achievement. According to Restak, this is the most important type of memory, and The way to strengthen it is through exercises that are done on a daily basis. The specialist stresses that strengthening all memory skills is the key to avoiding later problems.

Deterioration is not inevitable with age. Restak argues in the book.

Instead, it refers to 10 “sins” or “stumbling blocks that can lead to lost or distorted memories.” Seven of them were first described by psychologist and memory specialist Daniel Lawrence Schacter: “sins of omission” like distraction, and “sins of commission,” like distorted memories. To these, Restak adds three things of his own: distortion, technological distraction, and depression.

as a last resort, “We are what we can remember”, It tells and details some tips for developing and maintaining a healthy memory.

1) Pay more attention

Some memory lapses are actually Attention problems, not memory problems. For example, if you forgot the name of someone you met at a cocktail party, it could be because you were talking to several people at the time and didn’t pay attention when you heard it.

Some memory lapses are actually attention problems, not memory problemspixels

“The Attention deficit This is the main cause of memory difficulties,” says Restak. “It means you haven’t coded memory correctly,” he adds.

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One of the ways to pay attention when learning new information, such as a name, is visualize the word. “Having an image associated with the word can improve remembering,” Restak says. For example, he recently had to memorize the name of the doctor, Dr. King (admit an easy example). So imagine a male doctor “wearing a white coat with a crown on his head and a mace instead of a stethoscope in his hand”.

2) Find the usual daily memory challenges

There is a lot memory exercises It can be incorporated into everyday life. Restak suggested making and keeping a shopping list. When you get to the grocery store, the menu (or phone) doesn’t automatically pull out; Instead, it will grab the products according to what was agreed upon.

“Try to see the items in his mind”, The specialist says, and only point to the list at the end, if necessary. If you’re not going to go grocery shopping, try memorizing a recipe. Plus, she adds, frequent cooking is actually a great way to improve working memory.

From time to time get in a car without turning on the GPS and try to navigate the streets from memory. The 2020 study indicates that People who used GPS over time showed more significant cognitive decline in memory. space after three years.

3) play

“The Games like bridge and chess are great for memorybut also the simplest,” says Restak. For example, a specialist’s “favorite working memory game” is 20 questions, in which one group (or one person) thinks of a person, place, or thing, and the other, the questioner, poses 20 questions with “Yes” or “No answer.” The puzzle is that to succeed, the questioner must have all previous answers in memory to guess the correct answer.

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Another tried-and-true Restak memory exercise requires a pen and paper or a voice recorder. The activity consists of: 1) Remembering all heads of state from the current state to the oldest, a person must write and record them. Then do the same exercise but start from the oldest. next one, Name only the heads of one political party (for example, the ruling party) and then the heads of another party (the opposition). Finally, you have to name them in alphabetical order.

If you prefer, try it out with players from your favorite sports team or with your favorite authors. the point is Engage your working memory, “Retain the information and move it around in your mind,” Restak explains.

4) Read more novels

According to Restak, the number one indicator of memory problems is Let go of imagination. “People, when they start to have memory difficulties, tend to switch to non-fiction reading,” he says.

People, when they start experiencing memory difficulties, tend to switch to non-fiction reading
People, when they start experiencing memory difficulties, tend to switch to non-fiction reading

Restak pointed this out during decades of treating patients Fiction requires active engagement with the text, starting from the beginning and working to the end. “You have to remember what the character did on page three by the time you get to page 11,” he says.

5) Beware of technology

Of the three new memory sins, Rustack claims that two are related to technology.

First there is what is called Technological distortion. Storing everything on your phone means you don’t Known ’, the specialist explains what can erode our mental faculties. “Why bother focus, concentration and effort to visualize something when a cell phone camera can do all the work for you?” he asks.

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The second method we have The relationship with technology is detrimental to memory because it often distracts us from the task at hand. “Today, the biggest obstacle to memory is distraction,” Restak wrote. Since many of these tools are designed with a purpose It creates addiction to the person who uses it As a result, we often get distracted. Today people can check their email while watching Netflix, talking to a friend, or walking down the street. all of this It hinders our ability to focus Nowadays, it is critical for encoding memories.

6) Consult a mental health professional

You are Mood plays a role It matters what you remember or don’t remember.

Depression, for example, can significantly reduce memory. Among the “people referred to neurologists for memory problems, one… The main cause is depressionRestak says.

You are Your emotional state affects the type of memories you remember. The hippocampus (or “memory input center” according to Restack) and the amygdala (the part of the brain that deals with feelings and emotional behavior) are connected, so “when someone is in a bad mood or depressed, Tends to remember sad things It states. Treating depression, either chemically or through psychotherapy, often restores memory as well.

7) How do you determine when to worry

Throughout his career, dozens of patients have asked Restak how they can improve their memory. But Not all memory lapses are a problem. For example, not remembering where you parked your car in a crowded parking lot is perfectly normal. However, forgetting how you got there indicates potential memory problems.

There is no simple solution To figure out what to be a cause for concern,” says Restak; a lot depends on the context. For example, it’s normal to forget your hotel room number, but not your apartment address. If you’re worried, it’s best to consult a medical expert.

Some memory lapses are actually attention problems, not memory problems
Some memory lapses are actually attention problems, not memory problemsGetty Images

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