Exercise Your Body AND Your Mind
Mental exercises are not the only way to enhance your mental prowess. Physical exercise does more than just strengthen your muscles. Increased oxygen flow to the brain during physical exercise reduces the risk of developing diseases and can enhance memory retention, so remember to exercise your mind and your body.
Negative emotions do not last as long as good ones
Throughout life we all experience positive and negative memories and emotions. Research has shown that positive memories are more likely to be recalled with high accuracy years after the memory was formed. What this means is that the human brain has the amazing ability to self censor, favoring memories that were positive over those that are negative.
Context is king
It has long been known that memory is largely context-dependent. What this means is that a person is more likely to recall a memory if they are experiencing the same conditions as when they stored the memory. A study found that athletes are more likely to recall information that they learned while playing their sport when they are in the stadium or field where they initially learned that information.
Eat Brain Food
Like most things in life, your memory is greatly affected by your diet. The ability to store information for the long term has been found to be affected by food chemicals such as omega-3 fatty acids and various vitamins. To maintain a great memory, choose your meals carefully. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding high amounts of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates.
Technology does it for you
Some details in life are simply not worth remembering. Technology is quickly narrowing down the list of essential-to-remember items. Google is the main player in this industry. With autofill options, password safes, online calendars and address books, and even saved login credentials. As technology marches on, the list of items that we need to memorize is going to be almost nonexistent.
Age Related Bias
As time moves on after a memory is formed, our perception of that memory can change. Over time people may begin to dislike something that they initially liked, or like something they started out disliking. For example, young children often do not like to eat green vegetables like broccoli, but begin to like it as they age. When these children are asked later in life, many will say that they have always liked broccoli, even though that was not the case.
The Most Important Years
The most formative years of a persons life is from age 10 to 30. During this time is when people experience the most important events in their lives. Puberty begins early during this time period, followed by graduation from secondary school while at the same time forming lifelong friends and testing the waters of romantic relationships. The biggest events of most peoples lives are happening during time time, so it is no surprise that this period of time is the most easily remembered.
Stress less, meditate more
Stress can negatively affect the health of your brain. To ensure that memories are formed and remain intact, it is important to minimize stress. Short of medications, which usually have many side effects, meditation is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress. Meditation actually changes the physical structure of the brain, reducing stress and reducing the chance of other diseases.
Most adults cannot recall many memories from before the age of 3. This phenomenon was originally discovered by Sigmund Freud and was coined ‘infantile amnesia’. It appears that as a person ages, the ability to recall memories from before the age of 3 diminishes. Even children as young as 7 years old can only recall less than 66% of memories before 3 years old. This is due in part to the massive growth that is happening to the brain during the first few years of life. Long term memories are much harder to form during this period of time due to incomplete connections and lack of cellular machinery.
Deep thought breeds better memory
Deep thought is very important in forming lasting memories. It was found that the longer an individual contemplates an idea, the better the idea is remembered. By thinking about the deep meaning and implications of something rather than the surface ideas, the idea is more likely to be recalled with high accuracy.