Author Topic: MIT neuroscientist: The No. 1 skill that sets people with ‘excellent memory’  (Read 6203 times)

Riman Talukder

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Exercising your memory regularly is the key to brain enhancement, especially if you want to ward off memory issues later on. But memory strength varies from one person to another.

What separates people with excellent memory skills apart from those who struggle is that they have both a strong working memory (retaining information immediately after learning it) and long-term memory (recalling information more than a day after memorizing it).

It’s rare to be good at both types, especially without practice. As a neuroscientist at MIT Sloan, here are two simple brain exercises I do every day to boost my working memory and long-term memory:

1. Chunking: Strengthen your working memory
Chunking involves breaking down long, random and complex pieces of information into smaller chunks.

When you see a number like “3-3-2-1-6-7,” for example, you might divide it into “33,” “21, “67.” It also helps to assign those numbers a special meaning: “I am 33 years old, I wore the number 21 in high school football, and my dad was born in ’67.”

Chunking is great for presentations, too. If you’re nervous about losing your words, make a list of key terms and phrases you need to hit. Then say them out loud a few times to lodge them in your mind as guideposts.

Brain exercise: Recall the phone numbers of your nearest and dearest by breaking them down into smaller components, rather than only relying on your contact list. See how many you can retain.

2. Space repetition: Strengthen your long-term memory
This method is all about boosting memory at increasingly longer intervals of time.

If you want to remember a fact, say it out loud a few times right after you learn it. Then do the same thing a few hours later, then the next day, then the following week.

If you feel yourself beginning to forget the information, start the process all over again.

Brain exercise: Write down your grocery list for the week. Repeat it in your head (for each one, visualize the item in your mind). Then cover the list and rehearse it out loud. When you go to the store later in the week, see how many items you can recall.

Mindfulness and taking care of your body helps, too

Any mentally stimulating activity will boost your brainpower, but there are three other simple, important steps you can take to fuel your brain:

Plenty of exercise

One study found that cognitive decline is almost twice as common among adults who are inactive compared to those who are active.
For adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week.

A healthy diet

I always eat a rainbow of plants and vegetables, especially those on the darker end of the spectrum, like kale and eggplants. Even coffee and dark chocolate, in moderation, is good.
These all contain high levels of polyphenols, which are powerful nutrients that help guard against cognitive decline.

Clear your headspace

With such busy lives, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by information. But you can quiet the noise by doing some personal inventory.
Think about what is most important to you. What are the things you can easily recall? What are the things you tend to forget?
Once you have those things in mind, you can start making intentional changes.

Dr. Tara Swart Bieber is a renowned neuroscientist, medical doctor, and senior lecturer at MIT Sloan. She is the author of “The Source: The Secrets of the Universe, the Science of the Brain,” and hosts the podcast Reinvent Yourself with Dr. Tara. She works with leaders to help them achieve mental resilience and peak brain performance. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Riman Talukder
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Daffodil International Professional Training Institute (DIPTI)