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Other Ways to Improve Your Memory

Updated on July 25, 2010

Okay, let’s look at some other ways to improve your memory. So far, I’ve confined myself to things that seem to work for me. But of course not everybody is like me (yeah, yeah, ‘Thank God!’ and all that). So I’ve been looking around and reading up on what other people recommend. Here’s the top three on almost every list I found:

  • Learn a new language.

I can see the logic behind this: you have to learn and memorise vocabulary, pronunciation, grammatical rules and a host of other things. That’s a great mental work-out but is anybody really going to bother? They might if they want to be able to speak or understand another language - and even then, most people give up early in the process – but if the goal is to remember things more effectively in their own language (especially if that language happens to be English), I seriously doubt it. We all had to learn the rudiments of French, Spanish or German at school but how many have bothered to build on that since? How many of us can remember more than a few words of what we learned?

  • Learn to play a musical instrument.

If you feel driven to make music, your memory will certainly benefit as a side effect. There’s a lot to remember – fingering, technique, breathing, posture etc. Written music, like written language, is a code and you have to remember what the symbols mean. If you play by ear, you have to recall a sequence of notes and ‘hear’ the sequence in your head before you can reproduce it.

Music is a wonderful thing that enriches all our lives, but is anybody really going to take up an instrument for any reason other than the love of music itself? There are certainly easier ways to improve your memory.

On a personal note, I have always found it helps my problem solving abilities if I sit and ‘noodle’ around on a guitar or keyboard for a while, although I doubt this is the result of any memory enhancement. It seems that certain areas of the brain act like spoilt children, demanding attention and getting in the way. If we keep these areas occupied – by playing a musical instrument, for instance – the rest of the brain can get on with doing what it needs to do unhindered.

I used to try and achieve the same result with the simple card games that come bundled with Windows (okay, I still do that). Sometimes it works but more often I find I’ve just wasted half an hour. Maybe my thinking is clearer afterwards? I doubt it, because then I can’t stop obsessing over how stupid I was to have wasted that half hour.

  • Cookery.

Following a recipe and implementing the various steps exercises your mental faculties. If you don’t use a recipe, you have to remember the various stages in the correct order. Even if you’re creating a new dish, you have to recall the flavours of the ingredients to be able to predict how they will combine to produce a satisfying result. And of course, you can produce food that has a positive mental effect – more about this in a future hub.

You can read the previous hubs in this series by clicking on the 'Read more Hubs by Tom Nolan' button on the right.

Tom Nolan is a dentist with over 30 years’ experience.

If you found this article useful, you should check out his book

Watch Your Mouth – An Owner’s Manual.

Also available as a download. This book is packed with practical advice and will tell you everything you need to know to keep your mouth healthy, trouble-free and beautiful for the rest of your life.

You can get in touch via Tom's practice: The Dentist in Town.

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