Here are 7 everyday ways to boost your memory.
(Click the links for longer descriptions of the studies.)
1. Tell someone else
Telling someone else a piece of information helps you to remember more, psychological research finds.
People in the study who immediately told others a piece of information could remember more later and they remembered it for longer.
Dr Melanie Sekeres, the study’s lead author, explained:
“This has to be actively replaying or re-generating the information — for example, by telling someone the particulars, as opposed to just simply re-reading the textbook or class notes and studying it again later.”
2. Regular sex
Regular sex is linked to a better memory in women, new research finds.
Other research has also hinted that the same may well be true for men.
The theory is that regular sex helps to grow new brain cells in the region of the brain linked to memory.
The type of memory tested in the study was working memory.
Working memory is our ability to hold and process information in the conscious mind.
It is considered one of the most important aspects of memory.
3. Avoid doorways
When passing through doorways, our brains ‘file’ memories away, making it difficult to recall what we were doing, research finds.
It is as though doorways are unconsciously signalling: “That’s enough of that, now we’ll do something different.”
As a result, active memories are shunted out of consciousness.
If you have previously been blaming this on poor memory, then think again.
4. Post to social media
Posting everyday, personal experiences to social media boosts memory for them, new research finds.
Professor Qi Wang, who led the research, said:
“If people want to remember personal experiences, the best way is to put them online.
Social media — blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and others alike — provide an important outlet for us to recall memories, in the public space, and share with other people.”
5. Omega-3 supplements
Even healthy young people can improve their memory by increasing their omega-3 intake, research finds.
The six-month study showed that omega-3 supplements increased people’s working memory.
Working memory is vital to holding pieces of visual, verbal or other information in your mind while you manipulate them.
Better working memory has been linked to improved learning, attention and other vital outcomes.
6. Practice tests
It’s natural for memory to break down under stress.
Except, if you do certain types of learning, even stress cannot hurt memory.
Retrieval practice — the sort where you take practice tests — builds surprisingly robust memories.
Dr Ayanna Thomas, the study’s senior author, said:
“Typically, people under stress are less effective at retrieving information from memory.
We now show for the first time that the right learning strategy, in this case retrieval practice or taking practice tests, results in such strong memory representations that even under high levels of stress, subjects are still able to access their memories.”
7. Pink noise during sleep
Sounds played during sleep can enhance memory and may even benefit sleep, recent research finds.
The sounds, though, need to be in sync with the brain’s natural oscillations to work.
In the study 11 people were played ‘pink noise’ while they slept.
This sounds like gentle hissing that goes up and down — much like the lapping of waves on the beach.
→ Explore PsyBlog’s ebooks, all written by Dr Jeremy Dean:
Here is some pink noise to try out.