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6 enticing and scientifically-backed memory recall tactics you haven’t tried

You’ve taken walks in nature — or as close as you could get by the koi pond — and you’ve got the mosquito bites to prove it. You’ve played memory games on various apps that cost you several pretty pennies and cramped up your fingers. You’ve eaten walnuts and blueberries, but your gut didn’t communicate with your brain to the necessary degree. Who? What happened? Nah — don’t remember.

While you may see a few improvements in your memory, most of what you’ve tried didn’t stick in the long run. You definitely remember the mosquito bites and sadly choosing blueberries over chocolate, but you have yet to find what works for you. Here are six ways to improve memory you haven’t tried yet.

1. Involve more senses

The reason experts suggest you focus on mindfulness or meditation to boost your memory lies behind using the sensory experience to heighten memory retention. Your five senses all pick up different details that make memory recall more powerful.

You likely heard that smell is the strongest sense and closely tied to memory. You might look a little strange trying to sniff an object in public, but the key to recall is involving more senses in the process.

Multi-sensory learning improves retention, and many learners gain a performance benefit when they focus on audiovisual stimuli over modality-specific stimuli.

The Montessori form of education employs this technique, also, and some studies also found that engagement with multi-sensory stimuli helps stroke victims to recover.

Imagine talking with someone whose language you don’t comprehend. While listening, you also “listen” to their body language with your eyes, incorporating more than one sense. You do this in everyday conversation, but when you employ multi-sensory focus to a task, your memory boosts. Don’t watch TV while studying, but actively focus your senses on the task at hand.

2. Use humor

You’re more likely to remember an occasion or detail when it tickles your fancy and makes you snicker. Humor triggers the reward center of the brain, stimulating long-term memory and goal-oriented action.

Your sense of wonder and your funny bone are connected. Humor invokes a sense of community and social learning, which is why when you tune into Ellen Degeneres you’re more likely to recall news
stories.

Faced with a long Spanish vocabulary list? Make a song about a cactus and an eagle falling in love. Peligroso.

3. Swap beer for red wine

Stay close to me, red wine. Now that that song is stuck in your head, did you know red wine helps your brain retain information? So, cancel that beer order, and tell the bartender you want a glass of cab sauv.

Researchers conducted a study on aging rats and resveratrol — a chemical in wine known to protect against obesity, cancer and other conditions — and found it had beneficial anti-aging effects on the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with mood and memory. A separate study also revealed brain operations decline less quickly in moderate drinkers, so choose that red, red wine as you age — or whenever you need to take the edge off.

Different kinds of alcohol affect your recall. Researchers say that if you indulge and want to improve memory, it’s best to consume under 14 units a week. A 750 ml bottle of wine holds 10.5 units with an average of 14 percent alcohol per volume (APV) compared to a 50 ml double of vodka, which holds two units and 40 percent APV. A strong beer pint contains 2.7 units and 4.8 percent APV.

Wine keeps you steady whereas you might end up under the table with hard liquor — plus, beer makes you feel heavy. Ready for a nap or want to focus? Choose the red wine.

4. Wrap yourself in a blanket burrito and snooze

Fan of the all-nighter? Stress and perceived lack of time affect your ability to recall details and be productive. You need sleep to skip the mental fog and get a better memory recall weather report. Here’s your permission to get the eight hours you deserve — or at least a nice long power nap. Neurons utilized during learning activate again during non-rapid eye movement sleep, resulting in integrating and storing that memory into your long-term memory. When you sleep, the brain rids itself of unnecessary neural connections stored throughout the day and keeps what matters to you.

A good 90-minute nap on a Sunday afternoon will make sure you cycle through all the stages of sleep at least once.

5. Stop memory-shaming – Talk to yourself in third person

Bad at remembering names? Tongue-tied when a friend asks you what you had for brunch last Sunday? Don’t know where you put the tickets? Feel like you just suck at remembering anything and everything? You probably remind yourself of that “fact” all the time, too.

Stop jinxing yourself with memory-shaming. What’s true is that people are their own worst critics, and negative self-talk doesn’t get the memory gears going. You wind yourself up, the specific words you choose affecting how you see the circumstance or memory — and pronouns especially matter. Those who use the third person are more likely to offer words of support to themselves and positivity spreads, triggering reward centers of the brain — and memory storing!

6. Walk through the door again

When you lose something, friends suggest you retrace your steps, but you end up on a wild goose chase all over town. Your brain feels overwhelmed with the possibilities of where you — or someone else — might find your lost object.

Retracing your steps is better utilized with something you just lost, such as an idea or object. Wonder why you forget what you were doing the instant you walk through a doorway? The doorway is literally like a portal or gateway that jilts your thinking — passing through an entryway triggers an event boundary in the brain. Your memory corresponds to your changing environment. So, walk through the door again and pause to try to recapture your fleeting memory.

Similarly, this technique works for dream recall, too. When you wake up, lie still in bed and hold on to the last detail you recall. Be present within it and use your senses to absorb what comes to you like a
sponge. Write it down to cement it when you feel ready.

These six enticing and science-backed spins come from what experts say you should do. Plus, they give you permission to take a power nap or have a glass or two of red wine. Don’t you just love science?

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