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8 Effective Brain Exercises To Improve Your Memory

The human brain is the most complex organ, the command centre of the human nervous system. Being the central organ, the brain controls most of the bodily activities and help the process, integrate and coordinate information. With time and age, the functions of your organs can deteriorate and your brain too undergoes these changes. Memory loss, the primary indication of ageing is normal and nothing to be worried about [1] .

Brain Exercises

However, it is critical that you have a well-functioning brain because, without memory skills, one would not even be able to learn anything, be it studies or basic life skills because most of the actions we carry out are learnt from imitation and remembering when we are younger. Memory can be described as a cognitive process in which a person's mind or brain, stores information so that it can be retrieved whenever required [2] .

We can boost our brain and protect our memory by exercising some healthy habits on a daily basis. Brain exercises or exercises for improving your brain health (memory, concentration, attention etc.) are becoming common in recent times [3] . There are several brain exercises to boost your memory such as brain games, socialising, meditation etc. Read on to know the different ways through which you can improve your memory.

Exercises To Improve Your Memory

1. The 4-details observation exercise

The goal of this exercise is to observe the details and recall them later. Also termed as passive memory training, the exercise requires you to observe things and make your brain recall the information later. Under this one, you are required to observe details about real people, buildings, cars, movies or series [4] . Focusing your attention on details about real people are more effective in comparison to objects. You are required to notice 4 details about the person and recall them later in the day, which works your brain into improving your memory [5] .

2. Memory palace

You may have seen this in 'Sherlock', where the exceptionally smart detective uses his mind palace to remember everything that has happened around him. The mnemonic device is also termed as the method of loci or cicero method [6] . The memory enhancement method uses visual images (visualisation) through one's spatial memory (part of the memory responsible for the recording of information about one's environment).

Brain Exercises

[Source: Think Tank]

3. Spaced repetition

This method focuses on practising remembering at the right time. Spaced repetition requires one to reinforce the information in your mind. This technique can be applied using flashcards; organise your flashcards into three batches and test your memory by checking whether the information you remembered is correct. Start with small intervals and then increase the time gap [7] .

4. Number brain exercises

Doing maths in your head is one of the most effective means to improve your memory. Figure out problems in your head instead of writing it down on a paper or using a calculator. Try to do it while walking because, as your brain is required to give attention to both the actions (calculation and walking), strengthens your working memory [8] .

Brain Exercises

5. Repeat and recall

Train yourself to focus on what people are saying, while they are talking to you. Listen to the person and repeat their words in your mind as the conversation goes. By practising your memory to recall the information and details, you are exercising your brain [9] .

6. Visualisation practice

For this exercise, you can practice exercising your brain by creating pictures in your head. The visualisation method helps you remember the incidents by the minute details [8] , that is, pay attention to the location, the person and similar things involved in the scene (be it a movie, a conversation with someone or an object).

Brain Exercises

7. Learn a foreign language

Bilingualism is extremely beneficial for your brain. Learning to speak and read a new language requires your brain recalling information on a constant note. It helps increase the impact and effectiveness of exercising your brain [10] .

8. Mind mapping

This type of brain exercise help improve your association, imagination and creativity, thereby having a direct impact on improving your memory as well. By using keywords, associations, connections, colour and image, a mind map requires you to imagine and remember events - helping your brain function effectively and improve memory [11] .

Brain Exercises

Some of the other ways through which one can improve their memory are by learning to play a music instrument, learning how to cook a new cuisine, trying to identify individual ingredients in your meal, taking up a new hobby that involves fine-motor skills and also by learning a new sport [12] .

Learning something new, as aforementioned, is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to improve your memory [13] . Exercising on a regular basis is also effective because you need to have good health to take care of your mind [14] . Some studies have asserted that using your non-dominant hand can improve your memory as your brain is required to function in a way that it is not usually used to.

View Article References
  1. [1] Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Basak, C., Szabo, A., Chaddock, L., ... & Wojcicki, T. R. (2011). Exercise training increases the size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,108(7), 3017-3022.
  2. [2] Berchtold, N. C., Chinn, G., Chou, M., Kesslak, J. P., & Cotman, C. W. (2005). Exercise primes a molecular memory for brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein induction in the rat hippocampus.Neuroscience,133(3), 853-861.
  3. [3] Smith, G. E., Housen, P., Yaffe, K., Ruff, R., Kennison, R. F., Mahncke, H. W., & Zelinski, E. M. (2009). A cognitive training program based on principles of brain plasticity: results from the Improvement in Memory with Plasticity‐based Adaptive Cognitive Training (IMPACT) Study.Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,57(4), 594-603.
  4. [4] Ploughman, M. (2008). Exercise is brain food: the effects of physical activity on cognitive function.Developmental neurorehabilitation,11(3), 236-240.
  5. [5] Bherer, L., Erickson, K. I., & Liu-Ambrose, T. (2013). A review of the effects of physical activity and exercise on cognitive and brain functions in older adults.Journal of aging research,2013.
  6. [6] Van Praag, H. (2009). Exercise and the brain: something to chew on.Trends in neurosciences,32(5), 283-290.
  7. [7] Tully, T., Bourtchouladze, R., Scott, R., & Tallman, J. (2003). Targeting the CREB pathway for memory enhancers.Nature Reviews Drug Discovery,2(4), 267.
  8. [8] Cotman, C. W., & Berchtold, N. C. (2002). Exercise: a behavioral intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity.Trends in neurosciences,25(6), 295-301.
  9. [9] Smith, G. E., Housen, P., Yaffe, K., Ruff, R., Kennison, R. F., Mahncke, H. W., & Zelinski, E. M. (2009). A cognitive training program based on principles of brain plasticity: results from the Improvement in Memory with Plasticity‐based Adaptive Cognitive Training (IMPACT) Study.Journal of the American Geriatrics Society,57(4), 594-603.
  10. [10] Ball, K. K., Vance, D. E., Edwards, J. D., & Wadley, V. G. (2004). Aging and the brain.Principles and practice of behavioral neurology and neuropsychology, 795-809.
  11. [11] Tharmaratnam, T., Tabobondung, T., Tabobondung, T., & Doherty, S. (2018). Synergistic effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and exercise intensity on memory in the adolescent brain: a commentary.Environmental health and preventive medicine,23(1), 12.
  12. [12] Tabibnia, G., & Radecki, D. (2018). Resilience training that can change the brain.Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research,70(1), 59.
  13. [13] Lima, M. G. P., Schimidt, H. L., Garcia, A., Daré, L. R., Carpes, F. P., Izquierdo, I., & Mello-Carpes, P. B. (2018). Environmental enrichment and exercise are better than social enrichment to reduce memory deficits in amyloid beta neurotoxicity.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,115(10), E2403-E2409.
  14. [14] McEwen, S. C., Siddarth, P., Abedelsater, B., Kim, Y., Mui, W., Wu, P., ... & Kaiser, S. (2018). Simultaneous Aerobic Exercise and Memory Training Program in Older Adults with Subjective Memory Impairments.Journal of Alzheimer's Disease,62(2), 795-806.

Read more about: memory exercises memory loss
Story first published: Friday, June 7, 2019, 16:15 [IST]
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