How to Improve Memory: Part 4 Brain Stimulation
What is brain stimulation?
Brain stimulation is exercising the brain by learning, thinking, and challenging what you know.
Do you have favourite puzzle? Crosswords? Sudoku?
Do you love it because you know it? Or because it’s challenging?
While games can, and do, stimulate your brain, they have to be challenging in order to effectively stimulate your brain. Once you know the patterns, you need to increase the level of difficulty. Consider trying a new activity.
Does stimulating your brain, keep your brain healthy?
Stimulating your brain helps to keep your brain healthy, and improves your memory (Learn more on memory in Part 1 or Part 2 of How to Improve Memory). In the same way that running keeps your body healthy, exercising your brain, keeps your brain healthy. (Physical exercise, changes your brain as well, and helps you to remember better). While always relying on an app/ device to navigate, calculate, interpret or even order food, may be convenient, it removes an everyday mechanism to stimulate your brain. You will need to consciously stimulate your brain.
Why is stimulating your brain important?
Brain stimulation can prevent, or reduce, the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Lifestyle factors may account for 30-50% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Brain stimulation has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and memory loss that occurs with aging. It can improve the way your brain functions, from memory, to planning, to processing information. It has this power at any age.
How does brain stimulation help your memory?
Stimulating activities are thought to increase your brain’s reserve capacity. As you age, you are able to tap into this reserve, and function well, despite the damage that has occurred in the brain with ageing. This is true even in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that people with pathological changes of Alzheimer’s disease may have no clinical manifestations of the disease. This was proposed to be due to the reserve capacity of the brain. You are able to build this reserve capacity at any age.
Brain stimulation protects your memory by:
- Increasing the formation of new cells in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain important in memory.
- Increasing thickness of the grey matter of the brain. This typically gets thinner with aging.
- Improving the networks that connect one part of the brain with the other.
- Increasing levels of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This factor improves brain plasticity.
This helps with memory, and with other brain functions. It helps at any age. It becomes more significant as you get older, in order to protect your memory, and reduces your risk of dementia.
In a world where we are trying to make everything as easy as possible, your challenge is to encourage difficulty, as this stimulates the brain.
What can you do to stimulate your brain, and improve your memory?
Formal education, stimulating or challenging work environments, and leisure-time activities are thought to develop cognitive reserve. Increasing the level of difficulty of the stimulating activity, or perhaps changing it may have an added benefit
Suggestions to stimulate your brain:
Study further. There are many free online courses that could be fun. There is so much you could learn- from coding, to gamification, to the history of The Beatles, or how to write a novel. What have you always been curious about? What do you wish you studied? What will help you? Courses are available on Memorability, Udemy, Coursera and many more. Many are free.
Join me for Memorability’s Brain Stimulation Program. Memorability’s programs focus on a cohesive view of brain health, including memory, awareness, empathy, discipline, critical thinking, adaptability, calm and creativity. These skills allow us to function well in the world.This will be launched soon.
Learn a new language. Being bilingual has been shown to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by an average of four years.
What can be better than a good book to help you to learn? Good books teach us about ourselves, and the world. So far on Memorability’s Book Club. I have reviewed True Love (because love is good for the brain); Memory against Forgetting, Mindsight & Modern Art at the border of mind and brain . Next month I will be reviewing The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Join me for monthly reviews and discussions.
Or Stimulate your Brain by:
Starting a new hobby, or consider making an everyday activity a little more challenging. Daily activities can, and do stimulate your brain, but they have to be challenging to effectively stimulate your brain.
What will your challenge be?
Consider a cooking with an unusual ingredient.
Knit a minion. (I have to admit, this may be beyond me)
Learn a new gardening technique- hydroponics, grafting, or learn about the best way to grow potatoes. (If you do, let me know how. Please.).
Playing chess. To make it fun, play with someone you are evenly matched with (or, perhaps, someone you can beat easily); and to make it effective so that you learn- with someone who is better than you. Play with a real person, and not online if possible. Spending time with people is so valuable for health, including brain health and memory.
Visiting art galleries or the theatre. Art, in all its forms challenges, stimulates, comfort or delights. Art also activates parts of the brain important in self-reflection, and how we feel about ourselves.
Choose your challenge to stimulate your brain now
Choose your own challenge. Write this down. Set a deadline. Make it manageable and challenging, practical and fun. Start now.
Will it be ten words of Xhosa or Zulu?
Will it be playing four games of chess?
In a world where we are trying to make everything as easy as possible, your challenge is to encourage difficulty, as this stimulates the brain, this keeps your brain healthy and helps your memory.
Be inspired. Stay Motivated. Keep on learning.
Memorability's Brain Training Program
What can you do to effectively stimulate your brain? How can you help your memory at any age? Do you want to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s dementia?