Memory Maximizers: Memory Strategies for Recall; Antioxidants for Cognitive Boost

Memory Strategies Make Recall Easier

Researchers have identified an effective formula for absorbing and remembering new information: Break up a learning task into chunks of information that can be digested in a half-hour or less, and then study each chunk in a single session with two short 10-minute mental breaks between periods of intense study. According to a re-port on the study published in the Sept. 25, 2013 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the formula works best when learners engage in physical activities during the mental breaks so that new information does not interfere with the memory-forming processes already underway. The strategy should be repeated every day or so until the information is well learned.

Other strategies can also help fix information in the mind, and all should be used regularly to get the maxi-mum memory benefits. Here are a few examples:

  • Acronyms. Form a word, real or invented, using the first letter from a group of words you wish to remember. A grocery list of paper towels, apples, milk, eggs and butter might be BEMAP, or PBEAM.
  • Sentences. Make up a sentence using the first letter of each work you want to remember. The grocery list above might be Peter Ate Berries Every Morning.
  • Rhymes. “I before E, except after C” is a good example of this method.
  • Journey method. Using a location you know very well, imagine yourself walking along a defined rout (e.g., from the front door through your house to the back door) and placing the objects you need to remember in clearly defined places along the way (e.g., on top of the TV set, on the couch, on the kitchen table, on the stove). To re-trieve your list, mentally retrace your steps.
  • Stories. Make up a story incorporating all the things you wish to remember—the more unique, the better.
  • Chunking. Remembering a list of numbers is easier if you form it into small groups or chunks. The number 83916462 might stick in your mind as 83 91 64 62.

Consume Antioxidants for a Cognitive Boost

A study presented at the September 2013 World Congress of Neurology meeting in Vienna suggests that consuming plenty of antioxidant-rich foods can improve your brainpower. Researchers looked at blood levels of 10 antioxidative micronutrients in a group of 767 healthy older adults, assessed their cognitive function, and looked for signs of brain atrophy and damage to cerebral white matter in each participant. Results indicated that participants whose blood levels of antioxidants were highest in vitamin A and its precursors had significantly better executive function and visuopractical skills (skills or abilities in which what is seen must be understood and then acted upon). Although larger studies with a more varied population are needed to confirm these results, the research suggests loading your plate with foods rich in vitamin A—-such as liver, red pepper, sweet pota-toes, dark leafy greens, butternut squash, dried apricots, cantaloupe, and carrots—is a healthy way to give your brain a boost.

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