Today, I am excited to present a post from a guest blogger, Jackie Edwards. Jackie is a freelance editor, researcher, and writer with a focus on education, health and well-being.
Cerebrum Callisthenics: Exercising Your Memory
The brain might not be a muscle, but it sure behaves like one. Performing repetitive exercises, primarily involving your memory, have been shown to enhance your brainpower. Stimulating the brain for mental benefits has been something humans have been aware of in principle for thousands for years. In recent decades, we’ve known about the benefits as a result of science–from brain-training games like Sudoku, to the simple act of stimulating your senses, such as going for a run in the park. Psychological exercises have helped countless people to become more brain-able, too.
Like most things in life, some exercises and techniques are better than others and have been shown to yield better results. You can mitigate the effects of dementia, and in the process, master your own memory or hone problem-solving skills such that you find yourself more successful in work and life. Today, we’ll reveal to you some of the best techniques to keep your brain fit, and perhaps, trick it, psychologically, into working better.
Working memory has been described as integral to your overall fluid intelligence—that is, your ability to reason and solve problems you have never encountered before. Working memory itself is your ability to temporarily hold information in your mind for thinking and behaving. It is your ability to recall anything at all on the fly without even concentrating; your unconscious ability to remember.
Memory exercise is a very straightforward and easy way for anyone to start training their brain. In fact, memory is crucial to being able to develop other, more intricate skills—which holds especially true for problem-solving tasks, like mathematics and engineering.
Science has backed this up, too, and John Hopkins University have demonstrated that a particular working memory exercise benefits your brain. A study performed on children showed that those taking part in the consistent brain-training exercises had improved memory function after 5 days. By taking part in an exercise called the ‘dual-n-back’, in which you are asked to recall sequences of both visual and auditory patterns, the subjects demonstrated the value of brain training exercises for brain health and working memory.
Exercise has a huge range of benefits for the mind, body, and more esoterically, the soul. However, you might be surprised to learn that exercise can have an excellent effect on your working memory. A 2016 study for Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology found that physical exercise improves working memory in healthy older adults. Building on this, gentle exercise has been shown to be as beneficial for patients who are recovering from stroke and have been diagnosed with memory-affecting symptoms.
Importantly, exercise doesn’t have to be particularly strenuous. The above study only used moderate intensity aerobic exercise (40% maximal oxygen intake during exercise). So, for you, this could be as simple as a jog or run in the park, which will also benefit your brain via the stimulation of senses.
Mindfulness involves taking stock of your surroundings, thoughts and feelings, and detaching yourself to give a sense of perspective. This is in order to mitigate the effects on your day-to-day actions and to try and remain calm and objective through adversity. Mindfulness helps, therefore, in your overall concentration and ability to continue working as you would normally whilst potentially distracting thoughts are present in your environment.
This relationship between mindfulness and mitigating distractions has led to interest from the scientific community. In 2013, the Association for Psychological Science found that mindfulness assisted working memory by removing distractions from your day-to-day life. Essentially, by becoming more mindful of your surroundings, your working memory is improved by the virtue of not being affected by distractions. With mindfulness easily accessible via apps, and low-impact in terms of time and difficulty, this is one of the easier ways to improve your working memory and your brain. Unlike the other methods, too, this is entirely a psychological way of ‘tricking’ your brain into perceiving the world differently.
Brain training seems like a fad, but it really isn’t. The tasks you’ll undertake to flex your brain and it’s all-important working memory are simple and easily completed, with little expertise required. However, in the long run, they’ll bring you and your health dividends.
If you’d like to read more on today’s topic, you can check out the link provided by Jackie: https://www.fractuslearning.com/2017/10/24/brain-exercise-improves-working-memory/