A good memory is a treasure that helps one a lot in the course of time. Various factors such as health, medical conditions, and vitality of the brain contribute to the functioning of the brain and memory. You might be a student, a working individual or a grey-haired person. Everyone wants to have a great memory irrespective of the age group he/she falls in. Till sometime back, it was believed that once the memory starts to stave, there is nothing one could do to make it the same. But thanks to science and research, it can be said that it is no longer the case. Each day, your brain gets an opportunity to grow new cells and form new neural connections … provided it gets what it requires to produce the desired results.
The human brain possesses an incredible ability to adapt and change—even into old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the term that has been coined for the brain’s ability to change and grow, to become efficient and able in terms of functioning and remembering things. To put it in simple words, the brain’s growth is highly dynamic in nature and keeps changing constantly. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.
The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age.
Science has been continually finding new connections between simple things that can be done on a daily basis to bring about an improvement in our general memory capacity. Memory is a complicated process that is made up of a few different brain activities. Here’s a simplified version to explain how the process takes place:
Connections between our neurons, called synapses are created when our brain sends signals in a particular pattern associated with the event we experience. If we experience or see something for the first time, and not do anything about it again, the memory created would soon fall out of our heads. This is where a process called consolidation comes into play. Most of this process takes place when one is asleep. Recalling any incident or something that has been experienced before is easier when it gets strengthened over time, and each time it is done, we run through that same pattern of brain activity again, making it a little stronger.
Here are some ways to boost memory power:
Do Not Compromise On Physical Exercise
“Regular aerobic exercise may increase the size of the hippocampus—the part of the brain [that is] responsible for learning and verbal memory,” explains Dr.Vernon Williams, sports neurologist and director of The Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles. Well, it is already known that exercising helps you enhance muscle power, maintain a balanced weight, and ward off diseases. But research shows us that exercises have MULTIPLE benefits. Working out improves memory power, boosts thinking and encourages brain cells to grow as we age. Any form of exercise will do, particularly anything comprising of focused movements or something that requires learning new skills. Physical activity also tends to improve mood, sleep habits, and stress levels—all of which can cause, or lead to, cognitive impairment later on in life.
The sharpness of the mind gets amplified when the body performs physical exercises. It increases the oxygen supply that goes to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Exercise also enhances the effects of helpful brain chemicals and reduces stress hormones. Perhaps most importantly, exercise plays an important role in neuroplasticity by boosting growth factors and stimulating new neuronal connections. Well, there are tons of exercises that can be performed, however, as has been proved, aerobic exercises are particularly good for the brain. One must perform exercises that keeps the blood pumping. Exercising in the morning is ideally the best time, but, you can fix it according to your routine and time commitments.Aerobic exercise is particularly good for the brain, so choose activities that keep your blood pumping. In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain.
Sleeping Well Is The Key
New memories are formed within the brain when a person engages with information to be learned. However, these memories are initially quite vulnerable and can easily knock out of the brain in sometime, so in order to keep them intact in the brain, they must be solidified and improved. This process of “memory consolidation” occurs when connections between brain cells as well as between different brain regions are strengthened, and for many years, it was believed to develop merely as a passage of time. With scientific research, it has been demonstrated that time spent asleep also plays a key role in preserving memory. Well, the amount of sleep an individual requires in order to function and the amount of sleep required by him/her to function effectively are two massively different things. The truth is that over 95% of adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night in order to avoid sleep deprivation. Even skimping on a few hours makes a difference! Memory, creativity, problem-solving abilities, critical thinking skills and the most important, ‘memory consolidation’ are all compromised. One must refrain from being in touch with any device that emits blue rays (like TVs, tablets, phones, and computers) as they tend to suppress hormones that cause sleep. Make a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (this must include weekends as well). If you intake caffeine on a regular basis, cut down on that.
Stress Needs To Be Controlled
Stress is an extremely common part of daily life. It happens each and every day and comes in a wide variety of forms. It might be the stress of trying to juggle family, work, and school commitments. It might involve issues like health, money, and relationships. In each instance where we face a potential threat, our minds and bodies go into action, mobilizing to either flight or fight with the problems. As regularly as we face stress, we fail to analyse how harmful it can be for us. It can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches and chest pain. In addition to that, it can produce mood problems such as anxiety or sadness. It can even lead to behavioral problems such as outbursts of anger or overeating.
What one might not know is that stress can also have a serious impact on your brain. When in stress, the brain goes through a series of reactions – some good and some bad—designed to mobilize and protect itself from potential threats. Sometimes stress can help sharpen the mind and improve the ability to remember details about what is happening. One 2012 study found that chronic stress has a negative impact on what is known as spatial memory, or the ability to recall information the location of objects in the environment as well as spatial orientation. A 2014 study revealed that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol were connected to short term memory declines in older rats. The overall impact of stress on memory hinges on a number of variables, one of which is timing. Numerous studies have demonstrated that when stress occurs immediately before learning, memory can actually be enhanced by aiding in memory consolidation. On the other hand, stress has been shown to impede memory retrieval. For example, researchers have repeatedly shown that exposure to stress right before a memory retention test leads to decreased performance in both human and animal subjects. Chronic stress damages brain cells.
The scientific evidence for the mental health benefits of meditation continues to pile up. Studies show that meditation helps improve many different types of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Meditation also can improve focus, concentration, creativity, memory, and learning and reasoning skills. Meditation works its “magic” by changing the actual brain. Brain images show that regular meditators have more activity in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with feelings of joy and equanimity. Meditation also increases the thickness of the cerebral cortex and encourages more connections between brain cells—all of which increases mental sharpness and memory ability.
Laughter, Indeed, Is The Best Medicine
When one laughs, it engages their entire brain in it. As per research, laughter causes the body to release more endorphins and dopamine to the brain, which makes it feel good and improves memory by increasing gamma wave band frequency. It also has the potential to improve immune function and change brain wave activity toward the “gamma frequency” that improves memory and recall.