How to Improve Your Memory - 7 Ways to Give Your Brain a Boost

Written by Paul Wolf

Want to Improve Your Memory? Forget Your Routine

Here are seven ways to give your brain a boost:

1. Shake up the automatic activities of the day.

According to Katz and Rubin, this can be done in many ways, including brushingbrain building and boosting memory from trying new things your teeth with the opposite hand; taking the side streets when you'd normally take the thoroughfare; or reorganizing your desk at work.


2. Retire to other work.

Whitaker warns against exchanging "the office for the couch." You can keep active by deferring retirement, mentoring others in the field, taking up challenging civic or environmental causes, traveling to exotic lands or stepping up your role with the grandkids.


3. Fill up your senses and trick them occasionally

The modern, industrialized world has made us put too much emphasis on sight and hearing, say Katz and Rubin. There was a time when smell and touch were crucial to gauging the freshness of food, or even the suitability of an overnight shelter. Memory is not just for sights and sounds, but for texture, smell and even emotions.

Explore an Indian or Asian market and get to know the spices and unfamiliar foods. Take in the fragrance of garam masala, the curry powder, and file it in your mind.


4. Find hobbies that use different parts of the brain.

You don't need a map of the cortex to guess what activities might fit the bill. Even if you have two left feet, ballroom dancing may be just the thing. Reading from short stories to Tolstoy is a great brain-building hobby.


5. Replace TV with other forms of stimulation.

Whitaker distinguishes passive activity and stimulating ones. Gardening, playing chess or redecorating the living room are inherently better than TV.


6. Create new associations

Instead of waking up to the smell of coffee, take a whiff of vanilla extract first thing. Do this daily until vanilla replaces coffee as the smell you associate with morning. It may sound off-the-wall, but Katz and Rubin say creating new associations, even arbitrary ones, are tantamount to brain-building.


7. Talk (and listen) to people you would normally ignore.

Every day is an opportunity to practice memory boosting. Ask the bus driver his name, start a conversation, recall his name on the next occasion. If he tells you his 13-year-old son is taking tuba lessons, make a note to ask him how the boy is progressing.

Boosting memory is not just about overthrowing old routines but creating new, more dynamic ones.

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Photographer: Carole Nickerson


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