Memory is undoubtedly one of the most important functions of the brain. It allows us to interact socially with other people, study and retain what we have learned, and create meaningful relationships between information from past experiences and information from current happenings. Memory is an integral part of our daily lives. It shapes who we are and how we perceive everything that we see, hear and do.

Though many people think of memory as something that is static, there are a few ways to improve your memory’s capacity and efficiency. One easy way to improve memory performance is to get some exercise. For most people, going for a quick walk is not a huge time investment, and from what research tells us, it can be very beneficial. The increased flow of blood to the brain (that results from exercise) helps send more nutrients and oxygen to the brain. With more fuel, the brain is able to store more information and encode data more efficiently. Good nutrition also plays a part in keeping the brain working how it should. Foods that are rich in Vitamin B, Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants (such as spinach, blueberries and fish, respectively).

Another way to improve your retention of memories is to work on your attention span. Some scientists call attention the “bottleneck” to how much information you can store in memory. If this is true, then it is very important to try to minimize distractions when you are studying or committing anything important to long-term memory. One way to improve attention span is to listen to classical music. Research has shown that certain qualities in classical music improve cognitive performance as well as retention of memories. The complex nature of the music helps to expand a person’s analytical abilities, which also contributes to cognitive performance.

Additional ways to improve memory exist in the form of memory tricks. Mnemonics, the Method of Loci, music and rhymes are all ways to improve the way that the mind encodes information, especially with respect to long-term memory. Many high school and even some college teachers use mnemonics to help students remember abstract concepts. Most of these are used in science classes (such as acronyms), but memory tricks can be applied to just about any series of data that contains words. For things that contain numbers, the trick known as “chunking” is a great way to break down a series of numbers for memorization. One good example is how phone numbers are set up. Research showed scientists that people could remember seven (plus or minus two) numbers well. They also found that grouping the numbers into sections of three, three and four helped people recall them better.
So, exercising, eating healthfully, improving your attention span and using memory tricks are all ways that you can help you mind when it comes to memory. Taking care of your mind and body and constantly taking in information will help your memory work like a well-oiled machine . . . or hard drive.

photo by Richard0