How to Enhance Your Brain and Memory
Think back to when you were a child and loved to play games. Your parents may have purchased a game for you to help develop your memory. All the cards were laid face down, and then you flipped a card over. Then you flipped a second card over. If it matched the first, the two cards were removed. The trick was to remember where certain cards were; hence the term memory game. As a child, you thought you were just playing a fun game, when in reality, you were learning to hone your memory.
Later on, you may even have watched a game show called “Concentration” where basically you were doing the same thing as in the childhood game. Only this time, the contestants won prizes. The incentives change, but the ultimate goal is the same—to keep the brain sharp.
In the past, doctors and scientists thought cognitive decline (losing of one’s memory) was simply the inevitable result of aging. However, we know now that it’s not a forgone conclusion that growing older means a mental decline. It is possible to maintain robust mental health throughout your life and keep your brain as sharp as it ever was.
Studies show a definite link between mental stimulation from leisure activities and improved cognitive function. Mentally challenging activities can actually provoke the growth of new cells and new connections in the brain. There are even studies that show the possibility that the human brain can regenerate.
The simple act of memorizing songs, poetry, dance steps, or learning new skills can stimulate the brain and keep it sharp. Playing games like chess, or computer games, even card games and word puzzles can improve your ability to concentrate. Other ways to keep your brain sharp would be to learn a new language or read and discuss books. Try taking a new class. Anything new will get those neurons firing. Any Tan says that “memory feeds the imagination.”
For those who enjoy their online time, there are even forums and discussion groups, where those with the same interests can visit and discuss everything from current events to music, books, theater and television. There’s nothing like a great little debate to keep those brain cells active.
Exercise is another way, believe it or not, to keep that gray matter healthy and active. A good, brisk walk or jog is great for clearing away the cobwebs and keeping your brain firing on all cylinders. It actually enhances the learning process. This happens because it increases cerebral blood flow, providing in turn an increased supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain.
With the great wave of Baby Boomers all becoming seniors in the next few years, there is even more of a need to stimulate the brain; keep it as young as possible. No one wants to end their days rocking on the porch, unable to remember their own names. So, get out there and enhance your skills, take classes-- learn to dance, learn to play the piano, or guitar, read more and start a discussion group. Go to the movies and the theater, go to concerts, play games. But keep that brain working at top performance and speed.
In the words of Tryon Edwards (1809-1894), “The secret of a good memory is attention, and attention to a subject depends upon our interest in it. We rarely forget that which has made a deep impression on our minds.”