Improve Memory--Top 10 Ways to
Increase Memory
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Last updated May 17, 2016 (originally published November 14, 2009)
By Arthur Stevens,  Contributing Columnist

Having trouble remembering names? Starting to forget
important numbers or dates?  Memory impairment is one of
the leading complaints. According to the University of
California Medical Center, memory impairment affects
million of people worldwide each year.   How do you know
if you are losing your memory? And how do you improve
your memory?

Loss of memory is one of the earliest signs that your brain
is aging. It's also a cause of significant emotional distress.

Many people experience temporary memory impairment
associated with events in their lives. For example, women
going through menopause experience memory loss more
than 3 times more often than other women, according to a
2005 study from New York Memory and Healthy Aging
Services. This memory impairment may be remedied by
estrogen replacement, suggests a 2014 study from
Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory, Baylor University.

ot all mild memory impairment will lead to serious
conditions such as
Alzheimer's, and memory loss is not
experienced by all of us as we age.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your
memory. Research over several decades had identified 7  
effective strategies for improving memory:

Memory Exercises

Music Improves Memory. You remember words better
when they are sung than when they are simply spoken.
Research from Dr. Wanda Wallace published in the Journal
of Experimental Psychology found that when people are
asked to remember items that are sung 3 times with the
same melody, they recall them far better than when they
are simply spoken.  You know this from practical
experience. It's the reason we can all recall jingles, even
when we can't recall the brands in other commercials.


I can also share with you my personal experience in trying
to learn a new language. I struggled with both Spanish and
French until I started learning songs. After I started
memorizing word patterns and matching them with popular
French and Spanish songs, my mind opened up and I could
finally remember grammar rules naturally.]

Try this experiment at home. Organize your brain to
remember phone numbers, or names by matching them
with a favorite tune. Sing your new jingle 3 times and it will
be hard to forget it.  Use the power of jingles to improve
your memory.  

Take Better Snapshots to Improve Memory. Memory
involves 3 functions, registration, storage and retrieval.
Registration is the process through which your brain
receives information and "registers".  You see a new face.
Your brain registers that it is new and therefor that it must
be remembered. You can improve your memory registration
by concentrating on the first few seconds in which you are
introduced to new information.

For example, if you meet someone new at a dinner party
and are introduced to them, make up a story that
associates their name with a picture. If their name is Peter
and their face is round like a pie, think of Peter the
round-faced man who ate too much pie. Visualize his face
as a pie with the word "Peter" written in whipped cream
across the pie. The next time you see this man, it is unlikely
that you will forget that his name is Peter because your
brain will automatically see that pie with the "Peter" written
in whipped cream.  

Repetition also helps you to take a better snapshot. Repeat
the name of someone you just met at least 3 times in the
first half hour after you meet. It helps to imprint the name
into your memory. "3" is a magic number for memory,
studies show, including the one we discussed above which
studied jingles. Humans naturally remember items which
are bunched in 3's.  

Fish with Omega-3 improves memory. Certain foods
improve memory, according to several research studies.  
Many studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids, found in
oily fish such as
salmon, tuna, halibut and sardines,
improve cognitive function in general and memory as a
consequence.  A 2005 study from the University of Siena in
Italy found that those who take daily omega-3  
supplements experienced improvement of the ability to pay
attention and other physiological functions, particularly
those involving complex processing in the cortex region of
the brain.

Foods Rich in Choline Improve Memory.  Choline also
appears to improve memory. Foods rich in choline include
egg yolks, and animal meat liver
s such as chicken or beef

Unfortunately, these foods are not recommended for those
with high cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, discuss
the possibility of taking choline supplements with your

Curry Staves Off Alzheimer's and May Improve Memory.
New research has found that foods with curry interfere
with the build-up of plaque deposits in the brain, the same
plaque deposits which have been long associated with the
onset of Alzheimer's.

Sleep Improves Memory. Sleep appears to be involved in
stabilizing or "consolidating" the information you have
learned during the day. During deeply restful, "slow-wave
sleep", your brain appears to review and consolidate
memory, helping your brain to better store the memories.  
Also, rapid-eye movement sleep (REM) sleep occurs more
often after you have been involved in emotional, learning
experiences such as acquiring a new language.  The
research studies have disagreed over the important of
sleep in memory acquisition --the snap shot phase --and
memory consolidation, the storage part of memory. But the
greater weight of the research studies have tilted to the
side of concluding that sleep is vital to a healthy memory.  
How much sleep?  A Harvard University study found that
you need at least 7 hours of  uninterrupted high-quality
sleep to protect your brain's ability to remember.  If you
are having trouble sleeping, follow the recommended
strategies to improve sleep quality.

Watch Your Sugar and Exercise. Exercise improves
memory. A 2006 study from a research team led by Dr. G.
Stennis Watson of the University of Washington studied
Japanese Americans with impaired glucose tolerance to
discover whether exercise could improve their memory.

The researchers found that endurance exercise and limiting
the amount of fat in your diet improves your metabolism
and your verbal memory. Insulin levels likely affect your
ability to remember, the researchers theorized.  In general,
the researchers found that the amount of a story that you
can recall goes up as your insulin levels are better
controlled. They noted that " the relative amount of story
information retained after a delay increased as
glucose-stimulated insulin levels decreased in the active
treatment group".  

Bottom line:
control your blood sugar levels through
exercise and diet and you will also improve your memory.

Do Memory Supplements Improve Memory?

The most widely used memory supplement is ginkgo biloba.
Ginkgo biloba is a Chinese herb made from the leaves and
seeds of the ginkgo tree which has been used in China for
5000 years to treat various ailments, including intermittent
claudication (leg pain caused by narrowing
arteries),multiple sclerosis, tinnitus and sexual dysfunction.
In 2008, the University of Pittsburgh completed a 8-year,
$36 million study of 3069 elderly people suffering from
Alzheimer's or other dementia (such as that caused by
stroke) to determine the effectiveness of ginkgo biloba in
slowing the progression of dementia. The mega-study was
funded by the National Institutes of Health.  Johns Hopkins
University, Wake Forest University and the University of
California-Davis also shared in the conduct of the study.  All
participants in the study were 75 years old or older and
had either normal brain function or mild dementia.

What were the findings? Does gingko biloba improve
memory?  The clear answer is "no". The researchers found
that taking supplements of 120 millilgrams twice a day of
goingko piloba did not lower the incidence of  Alzheimer's
or other dementia whatsoever.

Changing Your Environment Improves  Recall. A new
study has found that students who change up the place
where they study recall 50% more than students who
always study in the same place.  The reason? Your brain
has to process the information you are trying to learn
differently when you shift the place where you are reading.
As a result, the memory connections become more intricate
and permanent.

You can use this tip to improve your memory in general.
Switch the place where you normally read the paper.
Change around the chair where you sit to write your
grocery lists. By changing your environment, you'll force
your brain to work harder --and better.

Try to Learn a New Language. Even if you're not good at
languages, trying  to learn a new language improves your
brain. A 2007
study by researchers from York University in
Canada has found that people who speak two languages
were diagnosed with dementia 5 years later than those
who spoke one language.

In effect, people who speak more than one language keep
their brains younger as they age. And even if you don't
master the language, just trying appears to help the brain
to build new neural networks --in effect, your brain grows
when you challenge it with a new language!

In sum, the best strategies for improving memory  are
eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, choline and curry,
creating better snapshots by repetition of stories and
images, and getting a good night's rest.


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