There is simple no doubt that people can make a difference in preserving memory function with age. There is clear evidence that lifestyle modification and certain behaviors can delay the onset or slow the progression of Alzheimer and dementia.
Conducting Memory Practice through ‘practice and performance’
The 2010 and 2011 world memory champion, 21 –year-old Wang Feng, was able to recall 300 to 400 numbers spoken at a rate of one per second and remember the sequence of a shuffled pack of cards in a mere 24.21 seconds. His ability is honed by 5-6 hours of daily practice using various methods, including visualization. The ‘practice and performance’ method dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, when – although much important information was written down- orators with exceptional powers of memory were held in great respect.
Memory Tools for you to use
The memory ‘systems’ of other cultures include a number of techniques that most of us would be able to use. Try employing some of them and you will soon see an improvement.
- Memorizing the chunks: Split information such as telephone numbers into manageable chunks – it will be far easier to recall.
- Tell yourself a story: Weave information into a story in which people and events represent things to be memorized. Studies show that this technique, akin to the oral tradition of relating myths and folk tales, makes information easier to remember and retrieve.
- Say it out loud: Reading information aloud makes it easier to recall. You can do this either by yourself or with someone else. Relating something to another person has been proved to help embed facts in your own memory.
- Memorise to music: The brain is more adept at storing and recalling information that is associated with music and rhyme, studies show. It seems that familiar music acts as a soundtrack for a ‘mental movie’ playing in the brain. So try setting information to a well-known tune, making up your own rhymes.
- Create colourful visual images in your head and associate them with the names of people and places you want to recall. To link pieces of information, draw ‘memory maps’ made up to strong images. You could also use smells and textures in your memory maps.
- Daily practice: Take a leaf out of the champion’s book and practice memory tasks – even simple ones like shopping lists. Rehearse over and over again until you have perfect recall. If you concentrate hard you’ll find that these challenges get progressively easier.
- File your memories Use the example of American Jill Price, who remembers 99.9 per cent of everything that has ever happened to her, by creating your own mental filling system. By storing information in separate ‘compartments’ in your mind, you’ll grately increase your powers of recall.
- Recalling by route: Imagine a familiar journey or route and place things you want to remember along it at specific location s to create spatial memories.
These steps may be useful for individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, mild cognitive impairment, or age-related memory loss.