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Mind Your Memory
In the paced competitive world of “ Fastest Finger First” and puzzling question rounds what does it take to improve one’s memory? Read on to find out more about the most complex, yet interesting control centre of our body.
Dec 21, 2018 at 12:01

 

"Just launched: “A brand new technique to improve your memory.”

“Have you tried the new game that will exercise your grey cells better?”

As fascinating as these catchy sentences sound, have you ever stopped and wondered whether these sentences actually mean what they claim? And what is the actual logic behind improved functioning of those grey cells?

So let’s take a break, pause and examine the facts from fiction, which surround these different, ‘promising’ brain games and exercises.

Firstly, let us understand that the idea behind most of these memory exercises and games is to enhance one’s memory skills by constantly challenging the brain with various modules. These modules, games and activities are today available on apps on our phone as well as in the markets, everywhere. These games / exercises target skills such as working memory, part of short term memory, and attention. The level of difficulty increases as one gets better at them. We can consider the example of a child who is taught how to ride a bicycle. Since they carry out this task day in and day out, it gets registered in their brain and soon becomes a skill. The more they practice this skill, the more they can perfect it and get better at it.

A fascinating research was conducted by University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Center, where they gathered a mix pool of people. Some of them were young adults suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI, a decline in memory), and half of them were patients of dementia (a brain disease that affects the ability to think and remember). All of these people were told to take similar tests and exercises over a span of few weeks.

When the results were tallied and compared, it was found that the people who showed early signs of MCI did show a marginal improvement in memory retention, learning and attention. However, from the pool those who suffered from dementia could not achieve the same results. This has been just one of the many studies conducted for testing out the brain-games. One needs to remember that a lot of studies, which show a positive result for the games, are sponsored by the brain-game companies themselves. If one collates the results from many different (independent?) studies carried out around the world, there is a pattern we can discern.

The results of these researches only confirm that most of these brain training exercises and games do not show significant, cognizable results. They can, probably, help reduce and control the early symptoms of memory loss, and don’t really help in increasing or improving memory on the whole. Further it was highlighted that when people were put in a group under supervised sessions better results were obtained, however, the effectiveness of the same exercises performed using online programs alone at home, remain inconclusive.

Some of the people undertaking the research were young adults suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI, a decline in memory), and half of them were patients of dementia (a brain disease that affects the ability to think and remember). All of these people were told to take similar tests and exercises over a span of few weeks.

 

Rather than opting for these modules, which only incur a huge dent in ones’ pockets with no assurity of results whatsoever, scientists claim that the best way to exercise our grey cells is through easy, age old practices. It may take time to achieve the desired results, however, they are a sure shot, pocket friendly way of doing so.

Some of the best ways to improve our memory is to exercise regularly. And no, not the mental exercises that these games provide, but a healthy jog, a walk or a few hours in the gym help boost your mental activity a lot more. It is understandable that in the rapidly paced world of today, there is no time to wait for nature to take its course. We all want immediate results, and hence, opt for these fast solutions, which are more or less phony and fake. A popular premium app, Lumosity even got sued for deceptive advertising, and were made to pay a whopping $2 million for it!

Another way to keep those grey cells active and healthy is by ensuring that your body gets good amount of sleep. Teenagers/young adults need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Researches show that a good sleep pattern helps in consolidation of memories, which in turn boost the overall functioning of the brain. Lack of sleep hampers logical reasoning and problem solving abilities, which happen due to the slow functioning of the brain.

Out on an early morning walk, you may have come across a group of people, gathered in the park laughing their hearts out. Yes, the centuries old “laughter therapy” can actually do wonders for your brain. It has been proven scientifically that laughter helps engage various parts of the brain simultaneously. This engagement leads to more activity of the brain, which in turn leads to a healthier and well functioning brain.

The jury is still out if there are or could be any positive results from engaging and playing these games. There simply hasn’t been enough independent research to prove that. While, whatever small number of research has been done, has only proven otherwise. Currently, these brain games are backed by marketing, more than science.

To conclude, you will realize that sometimes the basic everyday routine can help boost your memory so much more than the marketing gimmicks that surround you on the internet. Probably, it’s time to go back to the basics to live a simpler and healthier life!  

 

Understanding what it takes to crack the UPSC exams.

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