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Until a few years ago, scientists agreed that you are born with a predefined level of mental abilities.
 
However, it is now certain that this view of things is downright wrong. Your brain has the opportunity to develop further at any age and to develop new neural pathways. This ability of your brain is called neuroplasticity [1,2].
 
Your daily habits and decisions can either positively or negatively affect this process of constant change. A good memory is therefore not a matter of chance, but of the right techniques and methods.
 

Exercises and tips Improve memory: concentration, focus, ability to learn


 
The following 21 Tips and Exercises are a collection of the most effective and easiest ways you can actively improve your memory. Each point has been scientifically tested for its effectiveness and effectiveness.
 
Also, learn which techniques memory professionals use to memorize incredibly long sequences of numbers and sequences in minutes. Let's start with the first tip:
 

1) Learn something new

The strength of your memory is similar to the strength of your muscles. The more you use your memory, the stronger it gets. However, you can't expect your memory to get stronger if you use the same weight to exercise every day.
 
In order to improve your memory, you need to constantly challenge your brain [3]. Learning something new is therefore a great way to improve your brain's memory.
 
There are so many things you can learn. It is important that you find something that takes you out of your comfort zone and that you enjoy. Here are some Examples and inspiration for new things and skills that you could learn:
 

  • Learn a new instrument
  • Teach you a new language [4]
  • Start taking dance lessons regularly
  • Play sudoku or chess regularly
  • Read specialist books that pique your interest

A study from 2007 showed, for example, that people who speak at least one second language are significantly less likely to develop dementia [5].

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2) Repeat and Recall

Whenever you learn something new, the more likely you are to save what you have learned, the more often you repeat the information. So repetition strengthens the neural connections between your nerve cells.
 
According to scientists, the work doesn't stop there. Studies show that repetition is an inefficient method of learning when used on its own [6]. In her opinion, it is much more important to call up the information over and over again.
 
After repeating it several times, you should therefore sit down again after a learning unit and try to call up and reproduce what you have learned. By testing yourself to see if the information has actually been stored, your brain can store things better and your memory improves in no time.
 

3) Stay tidy

Did you know that tidy people find it easier to remember things and to retrieve knowledge at the right moment?
 
This has to do with the fact that order, like learning, is related to structured thinking. Interestingly, if you clean up your room regularly, your memory and learning skills will also improve and you keep your work or study place tidy.
 
I also recommend starting with checklists or to-do lists. Lists are a great tool for organizing yourself, and once you've written something down, there's a better chance you will remember it later.
 

4) Use abbreviations, donkey bridges, and acronyms

Abbreviations, donkey bridges or acronyms are part of the so-called mnemonics. These are techniques that help you improve your memory and better retain what you have learned.
 
Mnemonic techniques have been scientifically tested since 1960 and to this day are considered the best method for schoolchildren and students who want to keep their knowledge better [7].
 
Abbreviations and acronyms are part of these learning techniques. Acronyms are short sequences of letters that contain the first letters of a certain word sequence. A simple example is MFG (Sincerely). You can use acronyms to help you remember certain things and thus improve your memory.
 

5) Create a palace of thought

The palace of thought is a technique primarily used by memory professionals. You create a visual and complex place in your mind in order to be able to store certain information and knowledge modules in a predefined structure.
 
To learn more about thought palaces, check out memory pro Joshua Foer's TED Talk. He explains to you how professionals can use this technology to memorize over 4000 numbers in the correct order:
 

 

6) Divide and group information

The grouping and sharing of information has to do with arranging new knowledge so that you end up work with knowledge modules that are exactly the right sizeto be able to store them in your memory [8].
 
You have certainly already experienced that it is much easier to remember this number (356-961-730) than to try to memorize this number (356961730).
 

7) Eat more of these foods

Diets like the Mediterranean diet, DASH or the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay) have some things in common. They are able to counteract Alzheimer's and dementia by improving your memory and mental abilities.
 
These diets focus on the following foods:
 

  • Nuts and legumes
  • Chicken and Turkey
  • Olive oil and coconut oil
  • Spices and herbs
  • Plant-based foods (green leafy vegetables)
  • Fatty fish such as salmon or sardines (contains choline: e.g. Alpha GPC)
  • whole grain products
  • Red wine (in moderate amounts)

Oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids and choline. Omega-3 fatty acids contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA can support your brain in important functions from a daily amount of 250 mg. This is an essential prerequisite for improving your memory.
 
Find out more now about which foods you can use to improve your concentration and memory. Once you've changed your diet, you can move on to the next level with nootropics to further improve your memory.
 

8) Avoid these foods

People who adhere to the above diets avoid these foods:
 

  • Processed foods
  • sugar
  • Fried foods
  • cheese
  • Food with simple (empty) carbohydrates

Studies have shown that a high-fat, high-sugar diet can negatively affect your mental performance [9]. The problem is not the fat, but the sugar and the simple (empty) carbohydrates! Because sugar can, among other things, cause the BDNF level in your brain to decrease.
 

9) Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep and quality sleep can improve memory, creativity, focus, and attention. Sleep is also incredibly important to your mental wellbeing.
 
As you sleep, your brain solidifies memories and learning contentwhile your brain cells clean and repair themselves [10,11,12]. This makes it all the more important to get at least seven hours of good, deep sleep every day.
 
You can find out how many hours of sleep you should really sleep per night in this article: How many hours of sleep do you need per night?
 

10) Don't use GPS

As soon as you switch on your navigation device, your brain switches to autopilot and simply listens to actively thinking along with it. By turning off your GPS and taking a different route than usual, your neocortex and hippocampus will be stimulated [13].
 
Scientists have also confirmed that GPS technology makes us mentally lazy and negatively influences important mental abilities such as a sense of direction or spatial thinking [14].
 

11) Drink water


 
A large part of your brain is made up of water. The so-called cerebrospinal fluid absorbs vibrations in your brain and spinal cord. Even a slight lack of fluids can have fatal consequences.
 
Studies have shown that dehydration can cause your memory to deteriorate and your brain to lose weight over the long term [15].
 
Aim to Drink an average of 10 medium-sized glasses of water every day. If you do sport or go to the sauna regularly, it should even be between 12 and 15 glasses per day.
 

12) Have coffee

Coffee and the caffeine it contains is one of the most popular ways to improve your alertness and alertness within a short period of time [16].
 
While low levels of caffeine can make you feel more alert and energetic [17], excessive amounts can lead to insomnia, dependence, or dizziness [18].
 
It therefore makes sense to view coffee and caffeine with a certain amount of respect and therefore to think carefully about the time of day to drink your coffee.
 

13) Get physically active

It is scientifically proven that regular exercise can have positive effects on your health [19]. Exercise improves the supply of oxygen to your body, and exercise moves important nutrients through your bloodstream.
 
Exercise and physical activity also increase the number of brain cells in your hippocampus. The important thing is not the intensity of the training but the regularity. Daily walking is better than a single weekly HIIT workout.
 

14) Have a conversation with someone

We humans are social and societal beings. Scientists have been able to prove that social relationships are an essential basis for a healthy and efficient brain.
 
A 2007 study found that People with a very active social life had the slowest age-related memory loss in the experimental group [20]. Even a 10 minute conversation a day could improve the memory of the study participants.
 

15) Meditate


 
There is ample scientific evidence of the beneficial effects of meditation on your mental and physical health. Studies have shown, that meditation improves various cognitive functions such as concentration, focus, memory and learning speed [21].
 
It stimulates new neural connections and allows your mind to focus again on the essential and important things. It's also one of the best ways to sustainably reduce stress. Test meditation in connection with binaural beats in the alpha and beta range to achieve even better effects!
 

16) Enjoy the great outdoors

Exercising in nature is incredibly important for your emotional and mental health. In a 2008 study, researchers found that a walk in a park will affect your memory significantly better than a walk in a city [22].
 

17) Watch your alcohol consumption

It is true that moderate amounts of alcohol (one drink for women and two for men) can have beneficial effects on your memory. However, being moderate does not mean getting completely drunk or drinking more than one or two glasses of wine.
 
If you drink more than these amounts, it will negatively affect your memory, health, and reaction speed. Therefore, you should not participate in road traffic even if you are drunk!
 

18) Avoid certain medications

Note: Of course, you should take whatever medication your doctor prescribes for you. Follow his instructions and discuss any changes to your medication with him.
 
Studies have shown that certain medications and their side effects can negatively affect your memory. Therefore, you should be careful with the following medications and, if necessary, talk to your doctor about possible alternatives:
 

  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Metformin
  • Medicines for restlessness

If you feel that these drugs are affecting your memory negatively, speak to your doctor about your options.
 

19) Always try to keep yourself busy

People who are very busy usually have better episodic memories. One study confirmed a correlation between the intensity of the schedules and the cognitive abilities of the test subjects [23].
 

20) Try to Lose Weight

People who are overweight tend to have less fluid in their body relative to their body weight than those with a lower body fat percentage. Overweight people also have less brain mass than their peers [24].
 
Reason enough to keep an eye on your own body weight and avoid being overweight in order to do something good for your own brain!
 

21) Learn to manage stress

When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol. Cortisol has been linked to harming your long-term memory and negatively affecting the process of knowledge storage [25].
 
In addition, stress and depression in animal experiments have resulted in the animals' brains becoming measurably smaller [26]. Therefore, make sure that you are exposed to negative stress as rarely and when only temporarily.
 

Summary The bottom line

Our memory is a skill and is not innate. Like any other skill, we can improve and optimize our memory with the right habits, exercises, and tips. You can start step by step today!
 
You can start right away by learning something new, exercising for 10 to 20 minutes each day, watching your sleep, and eating more leafy vegetables.
 
The next time you need to study something for an exam or test, use the memory techniques of professionals such as mnemonics (abbreviations, etc.), memory palaces and the grouping and dividing of information.
 
Recommended article: The best nutrition for an efficient and healthy brain
 

References

Scientific articles, studies, research results

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Hi, my name is Lukas and I am part of the Riseon writing team. For more than 5 years I have made it my mission to learn as much as possible about our body and mind in order to be able to support people to develop their full potential.