23 March 2009

How to Improve and Challenge Your Memory

Are there exercises to enhance memory or gain photographic memory?

Well before we consider if there are any exercises to enhance memory or gain photographic memory we need to be sure that we’re singing from the same sheet. What is photographic memory; if there is such a thing.

There is plenty of debate about whether the concept of a photographic memory even exists and many so-called experts often confuse someone’s claim of having one with eidetic memory. Perhaps because of the misnomer of photographic memory, some researchers believe that people who have the ability to remember small details are claiming to have total recall that lasts more than two or three minutes.

The test for eidetic memory was devised to test the concept of a photographic memory, in that a person is given 30 seconds to scan an image. The image is then removed and the person attempts to recreate the image in their mind and relate what they see.

Very few individuals have been able to repeat the image in clear detail and after a few minutes could only offer a rough outline. Based on these types of test, these researchers are claiming that photographic memory is a myth.

Despite the conclusions drawn by these experts, there are numerous people who have demonstrated that photographic memory is very real and very possible. The basic theory is that people have enhanced memory capabilities enabling them to remember things longer that most, instead of actually taking a picture with their brain.

Memory Traits Can Be Expanded

The idea of someone having a photographic memory is more dominant in children who can often recall something they have seen in vivid detail. Unfortunately, as they grow older outside influences disrupt the memory process replacing the older images, or memories, with new thoughts or visions. It is believed that adults have so many interruptions in their daily lives to collect effectively information in their “mind’s eye” to be able to store enough detail in their memory.

There are numerous resources that can help individuals capitalize on their memory abilities and train themselves to have a virtual photographic memory. Memory course have been around for several years to help people with recall of important information such as names and dates, and through this training develop what is sometimes termed as a photographic memory.

Those who claim to have an eidetic memory, the ability to recall an image in detail after seeing it only once, are extremely rare while those with what they believe to be a photographic memory can recall detailed information as though they were actually looking at the information embedded in their brain. It is presumed their expanded memory capabilities allow them to form an image of the information they are trying to recall.

Challenge your memory and gain with brain games and exercises.

Writer Nancy Christie at EverydayHealth.com recently interviewed me about the increasing popularity of brain games and their benefits. When it comes to brain games or memory exercises, I tell my patients to “use it and keep it.”

By challenging your brain with new exercises or games, you strengthen such cognitive skills as the ability to remember something, solve a problem, or use a particular strategy to win a game. We posted tips in our blog entry called Challenge Your Memory: Use It or Lose It.

If you are in the market for a game or just looking for an activity to challenge your brain, I recommend finding something that will help you engage in several mental processes at one time. For example, look for games and activities that require you to utilize skills such as problem solving and memory retention challenges. I also recommend using your five senses - hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight - by engaging in something new several times a week such as trying new cologne or take a walk through a new park. Challenging the brain with new experiences will wake up the unused parts of the brain to keep it sharper and healthier. In other words, “use it and keep it.”

What brain games, exercises or activities have you tried? Would you recommend them to others? Have you noticed improvement in your memory?

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