buy this one
“I can so do my homework better with the TV or radio on.” Smart
kids would get an even better grade without it. Any speech or speech-like
sounds automatically use up part of your brain’s attention capacity,
whether you are aware of it or not.
Everybody forgets what they went into the
next room to get
It isn’t a problem with memory. Usually, it’s a matter of something
psychologists call interference or divided attention. If you
step on the cat you forget the drink of water you got up for.
A trick to recall what you just forgot
Trace your movements back
in your mind. Picture what you were just doing and where you were.
Work back inside your memory step by step until you find it. Pop!
You will remember why you are standing there with the fridge door
The “White Noise” machine
White noise is a blended spray of sounds
representing the entire range of audible frequency. Since it has
no patterns to it your brain ignores it easily. Machines that generate
white noise mask other potentially distracting sounds. A TV set
is not white noise unless the sound is off and the screen is in
Why you can’t remember the first film
of a double-feature
bunch of information often gets temporarily blanked out by the
next batch you try to learn. That interference is only temporary;
take breaks so that the facts you are studying won’t interfere
with one another as you study them. Interference also works the
other way. For example, when your friend gets a new telephone number,
the old one will still be so familiar to you that it’s hard to
remember the new one right away.
Where young brains have an edge
For anyone, it can be difficult to pay attention to more than one
thing at once. That’s especially true if the two things are similar.
Experiments with divided attention tasks show that the ability
to filter out distractions and juggle competing demands on our
attention is one of the most fragile kinds of skill we possess.
The ability to cope with this kind of task typically begins to
decline between ages 30 and 40.
Don’t study on an empty stomach
Glucose improves memory, even for
people with Alzheimer’s. That’s why memory formation is better
after a meal. But eat light at lunch if you work all day. Digestion
robs fuel from the brain.
Working memory workout
Here’s a departure from your usual routine
for solving a crossword puzzle. Try it with a relatively easy puzzle.
Go through the clues and figure out as many of their solutions
as you can in your head, without filling them in. Then cover the
clues and try to fill in the grid from memory.
Use it or lose it
The kinds of skills that tend to weaken with
age are ones that, at any age, must be used to maintain them. Your
brain adds physical capacity, just as your other physical systems
do. Capacity grows when you work hard. You can get your brain back
“in shape” but it won’t stay there without regular effort. That’s
a spiral that can go up or down, depending on the choices you make.
What do “photographic” memory geniuses have going for them?
who use memorization tricks often seem to have a bigger memory.
They worked to learn data that helps them shortcut long calculations,
for example. Or they develop visual memory so they can visualize
the objects that words represent. Tricks that improve everyday
performance do not, as a rule, improve the brain’s automatic ability
to store and recall data. On the other hand, if the tricks become
automatic and habitual, people who use those tricks do have a good
memory in practice.
Pills for better memory
Some research has found evidence that taking
painkillers such as ibuprofen — collectively known as nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — protect against Alzheimer’s
disease because they reduce inflammation in the nerve cells. Antioxidants,
such as vitamin E also seem to help.
Visualize it if you want to remember it
Your brain knew how to
remember what something looked like way before it learned what
to name it. So use those primitive visual powers any way you can
to tag new things you want to remember. Think of names and other
words as shorthand for the real thing you can see in your mind’s