Did I lock the door? Where did I park the car? What was his name again? These are fairly common occurrences as we move into our forties and fifties, maybe even our thirties. This problem of forgetting and the manner in which we deal with it is discussed in Keep Your Brain Alive; 83 Neurobic Exercises written by Lawrence C. Katz Ph.D. and Manning Rubin. We usually don’t think of our minds as something that needs to be exercised to stay healthy, but just like a muscle, it’s either use it or lose it.
We can improve upon our memory through association. Recall the vividness of a child hood experience that is brought about by a certain smell or sensation. If the brain has the ability to recall even a mundane experience from our childhood, there should be no reason it cannot do the same with events that occurred hours or days ago. Obviously, some people are subject to irreversible disease, but for the majority of the population, the ability to remember can be improved upon via simple association exercises. What’s better yet, you don’t even have to break into a sweat.
The goal is to stimulate the brain, via the 5 senses, in such a manner that many regions are stimulated with a particular activity. A good example is that of a strawberry. If we just look at it, only the visual portion of the brain is stimulated. However, if the strawberry is picked up, smelled, tasted, heard as our teeth move through the crunchy texture, (see, your brain has already produced a perfect memory of a strawberry!), many areas of the brain are utilized. The process doesn’t stop there however. In turn, these different centers of the brain relay information to one another thereby enhancing the whole experience thus creating a heightened memory experience that is easier to recall.
- Shower or get dressed with your eyes closed
- Don’t just smell the coffee in the morning, open a few jars in the spice rack
- Brush your teeth with the opposite hand
- Take a different route to work, keep the window open allowing you to smell along the way
- As your driving, try to identify coins in the middle console via touch
- Reposition everything on your desk at work
- Take someone to work with you
- When you meet someone new, use more of your senses in doing so
- Organize a “brainstorming” group
- Swap lunches with friends at work
- Set up a chess/checker board at the water cooler for an ongoing game among the staff
- Take the reverse route through the grocery store, or try a new market altogether
- Have everyone sit at a different seat for dinner
- Ad lib a TV or radio commercial
- Start a new hobby, or go on a different style of vacation
The possibilities are endless and potentially a lot of fun, the results could be memorable!