Brain Training Part 3 – Improving Your Memory Without Medication
In Parts 1 and 2, you have learned how to improve your attention and speed. And while there is absolutely cross-over between how each focused function interacts, one of the most frequently discussed brain issues is memory. “How can I improve memory without medicine?” is a top concern for many.
Whether you are in your 40s or 80s, chances are you have lamented at some point that your memory just “isn’t what it once was.” Let’s face it, the older we get, the more things we have competing for our brain’s space and focus! And while there are numerous useful products on the market that can help with the physiology of the brain, there are also a variety of exercises that can help your memory become stronger again.
How Memories are Made
The phrase “making memories” is often used to refer to events, vacations, meals, or outings with loved ones in your life. But how are memories actually made? Memories are impressions made in the brain through the sensory experiences. In short, the brain’s ability to record and process information received through the senses accurately and quickly makes memories and recollections more clear and sharp.
#1 Hear, Hear
Distractions and disruptions are a part of daily life. Your brain excels at filtering out the sensory information that you ignore – information that is irrelevant. Filtering is what allows you to concentrate on a conversation in a crowded, noisy restaurant or ignore the other voices yelling for parents at a playground.
Hear, Hear allows your brain to improve its ability to process sounds, filter out the distracting ones, and focus on the relevant sounds, imprinting memories. You will hear a target sound, then hear a series of sounds. Your job is to identify the target sound. As you improve, the sounds will come more quickly, while also sounding more alike. Being able to recall the target sound will train your brain to ignore the distractions and sharpen memories with auditory associations.
#2 Memory Grid
Picture Memory games are common in childhood. Find the matching pairs. In this version, however, you are challenged to match syllables. As you click on a card, you’ll hear a syllable or word. Continue to click on cards to hear other sounds, then find the matches.
This game sharpens the brain’s auditory processing by asking it to recognize individual sounds that comprise a word or syllable. The more distinct sounds your brain can acknowledge, the stronger the memory of the word and the sharper its ability to not only recall the word, but to associate it with meaning and experiences related to the word.
As you progress through the exercise, the sounds will become more similar, there will be more cards, and a variety of voices and accents will be used. This further challenges your brain to distinguish individual sounds that form the words or syllables. The ability to understand and accurately process and record sounds from male and female voices, the speed in which the words are spoken, and the accents in which they are pronounced, has tremendous real-world application.
#3 Mind’s Eye
Think of how often you filter out what you don’t want to see in order to find a specific book on a library shelf or your favorite brand of bagel at the grocery. It would be easy to be overwhelmed from the sea of visual stimuli. Fortunately, your brain pushes the information you are not seeking into the background, muting the visual “noise” to find the sought after object.
In Hear, Hear, you focus on sensory discrimination by filtering sounds. In Mind’s Eye, the sensory discrimination training emphasizes focusing and filtering visual stimulations. Training your brain to ignore distractions is especially important as you age; this keeps the processing function sharp and quick.
In Mind’s Eye, a target image appears. It may be a still image or a moving image. You will be shown a series of similar images or moving images. Your mission is to match the image or the direction in which the image is moving.
Using both visual sweeps (movement) and still images, the brain is challenged to form a memory of the target while filtering out anything different. The more levels you achieve, the harder the challenges become. Changes include remembering more than one image, having more options to which to match the target, and having greater similarities between the target and the different images. Just like the body, the stronger the brain becomes, the more challenging the task must become in order to progress.
#4 Rhythm Recall
Music has a huge impact on memory, and indeed, the health of the brain as a whole. There is a reason the alphabet is taught to small children in song. Most of us still have that song run through our brain as we recall the letters in sequence. Musical training impacts the brain in the following areas:
- Processing speed
- Cognitive function
In order to tap into the power of music as it relates to memory, Rhythm Recall asks you to follow a sequence pattern. (Although musical notes are played, it’s the rhythm that matters, not the notes themselves.) After you hear a pattern, you must use your keyboard to hold the keys in the same rhythm as the target sequence. The better you get, the longer the sequence becomes. Eventually, you are challenged to recall the rhythm pattern without a visual guide. Using this “multimodal integration” approach challenges numerous areas of your brain to coordinate and work together…
You see, you hear, you respond with action.
#5 Scene Crasher
The only thing in life that is constant is change. Being able to recall what was and identify what has changed is incredibly important. Whether it’s finding a child in constant motion while carrying on a conversation with another grown-up, or remembering where you’ve already looked for your lost keys so you don’t keep looking in the same place, noticing what has remained and what has changed is essential to preserving this important cognitive skill.
Age and other cognitive disorders can make this particular brain function difficult. Scene Crasher challenges and strengthens your “working memory” to recall what was there, then detect what has been added (i.e. the change). A group of objects will appear on the screen briefly, then a disruptive screen will flash to essentially erase your visual impression. When the screen shows the group of objects again, an additional object will be present. Your task is to identify the new object. To maximize the progress in this challenge, the exercise will change by:
- Adding more objects on the initial screen
- Spreading the objects further apart and further from center
- Changing the background
- Showing the initial screen for briefer periods
#6 Syllable Stacks
Ever feel like you’re using your brain to jot down quick details, such as a phone number or a quick message to give someone? You are! This “scratch pad” or “working memory” function of the brain is considered very short-term memory (less than a minute). It lasts just long enough to either use the information or store it away into a more long-term format.
Strengthening the ability to retain those scratched notes is important. If you’ve ever had to listen to a voicemail multiple times in order to recall the phone number you’re supposed to call back, you know what I mean. Syllable Stacks plays audio of syllables or words, then shows those corresponding words. Clicking on them in the order heard trains your brain in this working memory function. The better you get, the more sounds you’ll have to remember, the more similar the syllables become, and the faster they are said.
#7 To-Do List Training
This may be one of the most practical and real-world applicable trainings you will ever do. Have you been on your way to the grocery when your roommate calls and asks you to add a few things to the list? Or has your spouse told you to fix a leaky faucet when you’re finished mowing as she’s walking out the door? And how many times do you get home from the store without the one thing you went to get? (You didn’t write it down because you just knew you would remember!)
To-Do List Training addresses these issues. Listening to a request of things to be obtained and then selecting them in the correct sequence sharpens the working memory. You will be challenged with more objects as you progress. The request is not just a list, but given in a real-life speech pattern – for example, “Get the ice cream, but make sure you pick up the cereal and milk first.” Even though ice cream was the first object mentioned, it is the last item that should be selected.
Don’t Forget to Remember!
Memory training is just a phone call or click away. Call us at (888) 549-5519 or use the online chat feature to learn more about the amazing exercises that can help strengthen and improve your memory without medication.