Did you know your memory speed declines by about 2% each decade, starting in your late 20s? Yes it does! However, there are lots research-backed strategies that can help you keep your brain functioning at its peak. And today, I’ll share some of these with you.
1. There’s no such thing as a “flashbulb memory”
I’ve heard lots of people say the details of an event can freeze in the mind like a photograph. Well, experts don’t agree with this. Charles A. Weaver III, PhD, chair of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University in Waco, Texas says, “Our memories are more like a narrative that we continually edit.” Furthermore, research into what people remember about 9/11 showed that more than 70% claimed they remembered seeing live footage of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. But that video of the crash didn’t become available until later.
2. Emotions can alter your recall
A witness to a crime can see one thing and think she saw something entirely different. Gary Wells, PhD, a psychologist at Iowa State University who specializes in eyewitness testimony says it’s because a witness’ account can be skewed by fear. “Fear triggers a survival response that can use up cognitive resources, so the emotion can impair memory encoding,” he says.
3. Is Déjà vu really a real thing?
According to Charles A. Weaver III, “It’s a response based on a general feeling of familiarity.” It could be a particular sensation or scent that triggers a related, dormant memory. Thus, making the current situation feel familiar.
4. Naps are good for your brain
After taking a 45 minute nap, your information recall is five times better compared with watching a tv.
5. Stress can make you spacey
Researchers found that people who received high doses of the stress hormone cortisol daily for four days performed worse on recall tests than those in the control group. And University of Pittsburgh researchers found that women who felt high levels of stress over 20 years had decreased volume in the right side of the hippocampus.
But relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation and tai chi can enhance your memory. Therefore, anything that calms you down should have the same effect. It could be chatting on the phone or going for a run.
6. Don’t fret about memory blips
Forgetting where you left your keys or an old classmates name shouldn’t throw you off a cliff. A study from the University of Virginia found that these little lapses are rarely related to cognitive decline. “Your ability to access info quickly starts declining as early as your 30s,” says James Leverenz, MD, Cleveland director of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health at the Cleveland Clinic. Most of us multitask and chronic multitasking only makes it tougher to focus.
Dr Small says, “The brain cells storing the factoid you’re searching for haven’t died—they just need to be dusted off.” It’s normal to have trouble remembering what you did last week or a month ago. This is a phenomenon called “scrambling” – when minor details get mixed up in your head that you shouldn’t worry about. However, if you notice that you’re progressively struggling with daily activities—like balancing your check book or cooking your favourite meal, visit a neurologist.