Strong brain

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We’re all forgetful from time to time, but for some of us, forgetfulness is a real problem. From little things like items on our grocery list to bigger things like important work meetings or anniversaries, the tendency to forget is not only annoying, but it can be detrimental to our relationships, work, and general ability to function well in a structured, fast-paced society.

There are many ways to combat memory loss and decrease an individual’s risk for conditions such as Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. Playing cognitively stimulating games and engaging in educational classes or activities has been proven to reduce the onset of memory decline.

But what if you could do more than delay memory loss? What if we told you that it is possible to triple your memory with one simple method? Memory expert Dave Farrow, author of the book “Brainhacker,” has developed a test that does just that. Farrow believes that our minds have slowed because individuals are no longer asked to remember things. Phone numbers are programmed into our phones and we are able to “ask” our phones to remind us of important dates or events.

“We have become better at sifting through information and searching for information. Looking through search engines and such, and much worse at remembering information. And the reason is because we have a device that remembers it for us,” Farrow tells StudyFinds. “We don’t need phone numbers. We don’t need to hold it in our heads, things like that. Just a little bit of brain training and actually exercising your brain makes a difference there.”

That’s why he suggests what he calls “The Farrow Memory Method,” which he claims can triple an individual’s ability to remember. Here’s how it works:

The Farrow Memory Method

1. Make A List Of Random Objects

Select six or seven random objects and make a list. Focus on the order of the objects. You will need to repeat the objects in order at the end of the test.

2. Use Visual Association

Make connections between the objects. “Essentially what you would do is you’d get a list of random objects and you use visual association.” Instead of memorizing the entire list at once, focus on two at a time. Farrow continues, “the way I would memorize that is, you want to connect two items together at a time. The mistake people make when they’re trying to memorize a list of items is they try to hold it all in their head, and that’s why you have a limit of six to seven items or so. But what you should do is just focus on two at a time and making a connection.”

Farrow uses an example list to explain: shoe, tree, rubber ball, money, and movie. After he makes his list, he begins connecting the items by visualizing silly pictures or actions. “So the first item was a shoe. I would imagine a shoe connected to a tree. Maybe a tree is growing shoes like some miracle of genetic engineering. I love that. I actually pictured like a tree growing out of a giant shoe and it’s just like sitting on the ground and some art project,” he says.

He connects the tree to a rubber ball by visualizing balls coming out of the tree and hitting kids nearby. The kids discover money inside the rubber balls. He says, “Some of the kids, they pick up the ball, and they open it up and they realize it’s actually money inside. So they’re all excited.  After money, I believe I had a movie, and I just imagined like you go to a movie and just dollar bills are raining from the sky in the movie, like you just won the lottery or something.”

By making unique, visual connections, individuals are more likely to remember the list. Objects are no longer random, but part of a story.

3. Take Some Time

Read a book, watch a movie, or go out with a friend. Walk away from the list for a period of time. Then, come back to the list.

4. Recall The List

Using the visual connections, restate your list. The images should help you tie the seemingly random objects together.

Will you always need the silly pictures to help you remember? Farrow says no.

“With just a few repetitions most of these links will fade, but the information will stay. That is, you won’t remember that there was a tree growing out of a shoe. It’s just, whenever you think of shoe, it’ll remind you of tree,” he explains. “By the third or fourth repetition, the links would fade, and you would just remember the information. That’s really the goal. You don’t want to have to come up with silly pictures all the time just to remember your parent’s phone number. So it’s a means to an end. The picture fades and the information stays.”

Brainhacker: Master Memory, Focus, Emotions, and More to Unleash the Genius Within, by Dave Farrow

Other Memory Tips

Of course, previous studies point to other easy ways we can improve our recall.

In one study, scientists in Australia found that simple mental activities strengthen the brain by improving a person’s cognitive reserve. Activities such as adult literacy courses were found to reduce dementia risk by 11 percent, while playing intelligence-testing games led to a nine-percent reduction. Engaging in painting, drawing, or other artistic hobbies displayed an association with a seven-percent decrease in dementia risk.

And following a healthy lifestyle with a nutritious diet is also beneficial in warding off memory loss. A decade-long study of Chinese adults over the age of 60 shows that the benefits of healthy living even positively impact those with a gene making them susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. The study followed carriers of the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene — the strongest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Those with favorable or average lifestyles were nearly 90 percent and almost 30 percent less likely to develop dementia or mild cognitive impairment in comparison to unfavorable lifestyle participants, respectively.

Do you have tricks to better remember things? Let us know what you like to do in the comments section below.

About Jenny Somers

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