5 Tried and Tested Ways to Help Your Memory
You have probably already mastered the techniques for revision that suit you best; no doubt, by the time you have reached final year of medical school you have already revised for countless assessments and exams. There are so many tips for revision that include following a healthy, active lifestyle which is of course important for your general wellbeing as well as helping your brain work properly.
Whether you are confident in your ability to revise effectively or you feel like you need a helping hand, here at Pastest we pulled together a few proven ways to improve your memory. This could be highly useful outside of exams and revision too; whether you're a medical student or practitioner, you’ll have a million things a day to remember!
It is well-known that having periods of rest and relaxation in between work is important, but meditation could take it that step further. We use our working memory every single day and when we hear something that we no longer need, our memory lets go of it. Most adults can hold up to 7 items in their working memory at any one time, but if you feel like your memory struggles, try meditating.
Research has shown that those who have had no prior experience of meditation could improve their memory recall in just 8 weeks. Meditating can affect the functionality of your brain long after you have finished meditating. Harvard Medical School discovered that those who meditate have more control over something known as ‘alpha rhythm’; a brain wave that blocks everyday distractions and allows for more important information to enter the brain.
Playing brain games
Regularly challenging your brain and surprising it with new information can reduce the risk of your brain deteriorating. While this sounds extreme, the basis of it is to just keep your brain active. Brain plasticity research shows that you should provide your brain with the appropriate stimulus and essentially keep your mind on its toes!
Playing brain games online such as Lumosity can improve cognitive abilities including memory and multitasking skills.
Mnemonics have been around since the Ancient Greek times and are incredibly useful. Often used to help you remember words, concepts and information, mnemonics organise information so it’s easier to remember.
Acronyms and rhymes are one such example, but you can also use visualisations which involve imagining images to remember certain information. Chunking is also helpful, such as organising numbers in your mind in the form of a phone number. You probably already implement some of these tools without realising!
Look after your second brain
Gut microbiota, or the bacteria that reside in your gut, can have a huge impact on your overall health including psychological wellbeing. The microbiota has its own neural network known as the ‘enteric nervous system’, otherwise known as your second brain.
In other words, your gut health can impact brain functionality as both are very closely linked.
Managing the well-being of your gut microbiota can be achieved by controlling your intake of probiotics and prebiotics. One of the best sources of probiotics is yogurt, as well as sauerkraut, miso soup, fermented, soft cheeses (like Gouda) and even sourdough bread. Whereas, prebiotics are a type of fibre already living inside the large intestine, which are found in un-digestible plant fibres and can be sourced in food such as raw or cooked onion, leek, banana and garlic.
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to faster memory loss in older adults, and while this isn’t something you have to worry about right now, there’s no harm in giving yourself a boost of vitamin D!
Researchers have found pathways for the vitamin in areas of the brain that are involved in planning and processing information, including the formation of new memories. Activated vitamin D receptors have been known to increase nerve growth in your brain.
Pastest is dedicated to bringing you both useful and up-to-date techniques to ensure you succeed in your assessments as a medical student or junior doctor. For more help, check out our online revision tools!
In Medical Revision on Friday, 2nd December, 2016