Improve Memory 13 Points To think:
Improve Memory – Around age 50 many people begin learning how to improve memory because they are experiencing memory declines. This is partly caused by small arteries in the brain beginning to clog up. Often this is a result of a lifetime of eating the wrong things, combined with a lack of exercise.
It is important not to wait until your 50’s to completely understand how to improve memory– so you can enjoy a lifetime of enhanced learning and comprehension.
Understanding How to
According to most recent studies that focused on how to improve memory, if in your lifetime there has been an inordinate amount of stress; many neurons may have been killed by your stress hormones. Dead neurons can’t be replaced except in the hippocampus. This is good fortune for those with challenged memories because the hippocampus is critical for making many kinds of memories permanent.
Another cause of failing memory is incipient Alzheimer’s disease. Autopsies show that many people have Alzheimer’s lesions but have never shown symptoms. Experts assume this is because they lived a lifetime of exceptional mental activity that built up for them a “cognitive reserve” of excellent memory preservation.
What can you do about how to improve memory besides exercise adequately, eat healthy foods that you may not enjoy, take statin pills or activate a yoga routine?
In short—experts say: focus, focus, focus.
Studies Guide: Learning More about How to Improve Memory
Learning more about how to improve memory includes changing thinking styles. Research shows that most older people have lost some of their ability to pay attention. With work this can be significantly improved.
Studies show older people needing to learn how to improve memory have challenges ignoring distractions. Distraction shows a distinctly reduced ability to focus. Focus is the process that transforms working memory into longer-lasting forms.
In one study, memory test group trials involved presenting pictures of faces for about a second. Then a picture of a scene was presented for another second. Finally, a picture of another face was presented for another second, and then another picture of a different scene for a second.
After a nine second delay—another picture was presented. The subject was instructed to press a button to indicate if the stimulus matched one of the previous pictures. The intention here was for subjects to suppress memories of irrelevant stimuli. In this study (Gassily et al. 2005) investigators went beyond behavioral response assessment.
Researchers wanted to know what was happening in the brain while suppressing irrelevant tasks. They used functional response imaging (fMRI). They focused the imaging over regions of the brain that were responsive to the visual imaging.
Study investigators were measuring the amount of brain activity under the conditions when the instructions were to remember one type of image while ignoring another.
Current Research and Memory Study Result of How to Improve Memory
What researchers found was brain activity in all of the young subjects increased when they were viewing scenes they were asked to remember. Brain activity decreased when presented with an image that they ignored. In short; the brain the brain suppresses its response to irrelevant stimuli. Older participants demonstrated an inability to suppress brain activity that makes it possible to ignore specific stimuli.
The data suggests older individuals have difficulty ignoring irrelevant or distracting information. Especially when contained in working memory. This does not support the conclusion that memory deficits in the elderly are inevitable. This study showed that nearly half the elderly interviewed showed no deficit at all. Others studies showed that older people are simply more distractible.
These studies went on to show that age does not seem to affect memory decay at all. What this shows about how to improve memory is the conclusion that older brains are less able to filter out or inhibit distractions.
Such studies would be well supported by these same tests being performed with children. Like older people, it is likely this would show that children are less able to filter out or inhibit distractions.
A study at the University of Toronto (Grady, C. L. et al. 2006) used MRI imaging of people while they performed varieties of memory tasks—both during encoding and during recognition tasks. They found an age-related increase in activity in brain areas that normally decrease during task performance.
Memory Researcher Interpretations on How to Improve Memory
Researchers interpret this to indicate that these areas normally do not respond during a memory task. They suggest this is because the brain is paying attention to the task and assigning the memory work only to the parts of the brain that need to process the memory. Other scientists interpret this to mean that as you get older, your brain has to recruit more help from other parts of itself.
Another related find of this research on how to improve memory was an age-related decrease of activity in brain areas that normally become activated during the memory tasks. Researchers thought that this finding indicated an age- related decline in an ability to distinguish task-related demands from the tasks that were interpreted as unnecessary.
It has also been hypothesized that as you age, the circuits that are normally needed to handle memory become less competent for this job. The findings clearly indicate an age-related decline. The brains ability to focus its neural resources on memory tasks suffers. Most challenging to understand is that the brain activity-pattern showed decreases by around age 40.
So what do we do about attention deficit and how it affects how to improve memory? By keeping our brain working hard as aging progresses, we can reduce this tendency to lose our ability to manage our memory workload.
Exercise for the brain strengthens the neural circuits. Especially in the parts of the brain that have to separate irrelevant from relevant information in memory work. It also does this for those parts of the brain that have to perform the memory tasks.
Another strategy for how to improve memory is to reduce distractions. Especially distractions that are present when we are trying to remember specific things. Multi-tasking is hard enough to do when you are young. It is highly likely this ability declines significantly as you age.
On those occasions when we forget what we opened the refrigerator door for, it is always because we allowed ourselves to get distracted between the time we decided what we wanted and the time we opened the door.
Obviously older people (and children) need to work at paying attention. We need to discipline the brain to concentrate. And since these age groups are so distractible, information should be absorbed in smaller, more manageable chunks. Lower the memory demand, and the brains limited resources can deal with it much more efficiently. This is key when learning how to improve memory.
So What Exactly is Memory?
Memory is information stored in your brain. It is stored in a manner that can be retrieved or recalled at any time. Different information is sorted, and then filed into different areas of the brain. The brain sorts information, putting like information with like information.
Memory activity occurs when crossing-references for information and pulling it together to make a completely understandable picture.
People engage two kinds of memory: long-term memory and short-term memory. Short term memory includes newly learned information. You can access these newly learned memories any time you need to. This is important to know when learning how to improve memory.
Examples include materials studied for an exam. The brain sorts long-term memory and stores the information you use almost every day. It also stores things from the past that are important to you in this area.
Researchers have learned that some information is more readily absorbed and stored. This includes smells, faces and other things that you see regularly. These memories are absorbed almost effortlessly, whereas more complex, frequently viewed images are usually more difficult to retrieve even when you are trying to learn how to improve memory.
And Just How Does Normal Memory Work When Learning How to Improve Memory?
Scientists are better able to study how the brain works by using specialized scanning and MRI equipment. The brain has scores of different areas that specialize in different types of information sorting and storage, another key to how to improve memory.
Researchers now understand how to improve memory has a lot to do with certain attributes of memory that are grouped with other similar memories. An example of this is when a particular smell is stored with other similar scent recollections.
A single memory doesn’t occupy a single memory slot. It is divided into its various parts. When an active mind works to retrieve this information, it causes you to remember and recall. This means your brain cross-references the many attributes of the memory. It then works to pull this information together in very much the same way a search engine on the Web does.
Are Some People Born With Better Memory Than Others?
There are many factors that contribute to the ability to remember (memory function). Genetics accounts for about half of your mental ability and memory function. It is a simple fact that some people are better at remembering than are others.
Exactly How Does Memory and How to Improve Memory Change With Age?
As we explained above using the current studies performed by researchers—changes in memory function and changes in how to improve memory and how they relate to aging is a very active field of research that has produced an enormous amount of readily accessible information.
As your body ages, your mental ability and capacity to remember begin a slow, steady decline due mostly to an increase in distractibility. The effects of this simply become more detectable after age 50. This means when people begin to experience an increase in memory lapse, the actual problem is a need to increase focus and reduce distraction. This is the key to how to improve memory.
The older you are the more difficulty arises with short-term memory and mental organization if you are not actively engaged in learning how to improve memory while engageing in mental-focus improvement activities.
As a general rule, as you age your brain just isn’t able to reorganize and search the way it used to. For example, multitasking (trying to do several things at once) adversely affects short term memory in older people. As you age, the speed available to learn new things tends to decline because more effort is needed to maintain your focus.
How you go about learning new information and how to improve memory plays a crucial role in memory function and recall. Promising research suggests that if an older person learns information and, subsequently, how to improve memory in the right way, he or she is just as likely to remember the information as younger people.
What Exactly Does Forgetfulness Indicate?
Everyone has the ability to learn how to improve memory. Many people have had the experience of misplacing important items or forgetting what they were going to say. Lapses in memory such as this are common at any age—and are easily remedied by learning how to improve memory.
Extreme or uncomfortable and increasing memory loss is never a normal part of aging. Severe memory impairment is usually a symptom of an underlying disorder or condition. These conditions can include depression, extreme or unrelenting levels of stress, or the onset of Dementia or Alzheimer’s and sleep deprivation.
Treating the cause often improves the situation, and subsequently the memory condition improves or resolves. Learning how to improve memory is always beneficial, regardless of other causes.
How to Improve Memory
There are many things to do when learning how to improve memory. One is to develop personal organization techniques. This means making check lists and having a daily planner. Another thing to do when learning how to improve memory is find other ways to manage your stress. By doing this you improve your ability to perform recall.
Your brain helps you remember by separating information into different sections—smaller bits of information are easier to recall than one long segment. When learning how to improve memory you can help your brain to do this by writing the information down.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease. It damages the brains capacity for memory. Because this disease begins with memory loss—people who experience forgetfulness often fear they may have this disease.
Scientists are working on developing future tests that will determine characteristic changes in the brain. These tests will have the ability to help determine if a person is likely to develop this affliction. They will also indicate ways they can learn how to improve memory more easily.
Drugs that are currently available and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that do help with this condition include:
- Aricept (donepezil)
- Reminyl (galantamine)
- Exelon (rivastigmine)
- Cognex (tacrine)
- Namenda (memantine)
Although none of these drugs will stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, they can provide some benefit in that they can stabilize behavior and prevent decline of cognitive and memory performances.
In a few patients Alzheimer’s is caused by a chromosomal abnormality. This abnormality leads to the onset of dementia at an early age. Patients such as these often develop dementia before the age of 60. Our chromosomes are genetic materials people inherit from parents.
Children inherit one chromosome from each parent. Around three percent of people with Alzheimer’s have this chromosomal abnormality.
Most people who contract Alzheimer’s disease are older. The onset of Alzheimer’s disease after age 75 may also have a genetic component. There are certainly other factors involved that are important but not yet identified.
More Techniques for How to Improve Memory
It is completely possible to work at improving focus, which will dramatically improve short-term and long-term memory use. Learning these specific techniques will sharpen existing memories while making new memories easier to retain. Another key to how to improve memory.
Some memory enhancing techniques include:
- Making new information more meaningful and relevant to you by personalizing it makes it much easier to recall things when learning how to improve memory.
- Certain organizational habits can be done to prepare your brain to retain new information much more easily.
- Performing these organizational preparation tasks can reduce anxiety and pressure which frees you from stress which subsequently allows greater focus and concentration.
- The more organized you are, the more you can focus on what you need to remember in order to learn how to improve memory.
- Belongings—always keep important items such as keys, glasses, wallet, etc. in the same place.
- Meetings and Appointments—always keep a calendar or electronic organizer to keep appointments and other important dates.
- Daily planner—Keep lists of things you have to do each day in a daily planner. Write down the names of people you need to call, bills you need to pay and errands you need to run.
- For names and phone numbers—keep your address book updated and readily available.
Current Medical Treatments for Hoe to Improve Memory
The treatment of memory loss depends on its cause. Sometimes it is as simple as treating the underlying illness. For example, treating depression, thyroid disease or a sleep disorder should resolve memory loss associated with the condition.
At present, there is no drug that can prevent age-related memory loss or help with how to improve memory. Experts do believe this might become possible. Currently self-help techniques and practical focusing exercises are the most effective way to learn how to improve memory.
Most Doctors Use Drugs to Treat Dementia and its Complications
Drugs have a role in the management of dementia and how to improve memory. Treatment will not reverse the disease. It might prevent its progression, perhaps for up to a year. The choice of treatment depends on the cause. Alzheimer’s disease affects whole systems of signal transmissions in the brain. This system is known as the cholinergic system.
Drugs developed to help improve memory also help restore cholinergic function include medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease that act on the cholinergic system:
Medications do not offer a cure, they simply improve symptoms of mild to moderate dementia. Another drug called memantine (Namenda) works differently than other drugs. Memantine is approved for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease.
In recent studies of patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease, those who took Namenda by itself showed a slower decline in mental function. This was shown when participants were compared with those who took placebos. In another separate study, people who took Namenda in combination with donepezil (Aricept) vs donepezil alone, also showed slower decline Alzheimer’s disease in mental functioning.
Treatment of the complications of Alzheimer’s disease, including sleep disorders, depression and sleep disturbances—require careful evaluation of social and environmental issues. Treatment usually includes lifestyle changes. Should this fail, then medications are reviewed for consideration.
Treatments for multi-infarct dementia are similar to the approach taken to prevent stroke. Most doctors will recommend how to improve memory using lifestyle changes and medications to modify risk factors. Risk factors include tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar.
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How to Improve Memory Article Information Sources:
-Fabiani, M. et al 2006. Reduced suppression or labile memory? Mechanisms of in efficient filtering of irrelevant information in older adults. J. Cognitive Neuroscience. 18 (4): 637-650.
-Gazzaley, A. et al. 2005. Top down suppression deficit underlies working memory impairment in normal aging. Nature Neuroscience. 8: 1298-1300.
-Grady, C. L. et al. 2006. Age related changes in changes in brain activity across the adult lifespan. J. Cognitive Neuroscience. 18: 227-241.