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Having Trouble with Your Memory?

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As we get older, our brain loses more cells; this can result in making it harder to remember. While it is annoying to forget a word, there are ways to improve your memory.

One of the most common memory problems are with working memory. Working memory is the memory that is involved in remembering phone numbers: information is stored temporarily in the prefrontal cortex, manipulated and recalled, then discarded when no longer needed. The average number of items that an adult with no brain damage can store in her working memory is 7±2.

One way to increase the number of items retained in working memory is chunking, a process that groups items, like numbers, together in a meaningful way. An example of successful chunking was in a recorded case where an All-American cross-country runner had a working memory retention of seventy nine; he grouped the numbers together in his mind to be racing times. However, he was unable to have the same size working memory when the items were words; since his method of chunking was not meaningful when done with words, his working memory could not retain the same large amount.

Creating a meaningful connection with the incoming information can help with retention. Grouping information semantically (by topic) can help the brain process information from short-term memory to long-term memory much better.

In addition, associating visual images with auditory information, such as words, strengthens the mental connection. One technique when trying to remember a list of words is to picture a room, and when each word is read, picture it being added to the room. Therefore, when recalling the words, you can use the mental image as a reference. These memory techniques, whether one or all are used, can help with short term memory.

Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch received her bachelor’s of science degree in neuroscience from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in May 2009. Her thesis research was in learning, memory and attention in female college-age sexual assault survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder.

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It is a fact that our brain depleted as we get older. Many of us also feared to get old and lose large part of their memory. As medical science advances, people are living longer making a lot of people want to improve memory so they can live out their golden years as sharp as a tack. An effort to improve memory is like making a fast cash advance to your own brain. There are a number of memory techniques out there to keep the brain working, a lot of mental exercises, and you can always try remembering money matters, as the math will help keep the old noggin in good shape. Tests of memory, recognition exercises, and a healthy appetite for reading all help, as they are credit repair with your own brain, and a good way to improve memory.

May 29, 2009 - 1:53am
EmpowHER Guest

Interesting fact: That 7 item memory size is one of the major reasons that we have 7 digit phone numbers. News you can use!

May 27, 2009 - 8:57pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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