So, the exams are getting closer and now I know quite a few things about memory and how to improve it! It started with the 1st semester at Charles University. I am studying biology there and I was quite afraid of exams as I think that my memory isn’t exactly one of the best. Anytime I want to learn something, I got to write it all down and even after that, I have a difficult time remembering much of anything. It’s known that every person learns better differently, someone learn better from reading, someone listening and someone all of the above.
Anyway, I want to write about the universal memory improvement on the brain level. We still know a little about how memory is stored and how does it all work in our brains. The basics are that whatever we perceive goes into our brain and the more you are focused and interested in the subject the more you’re going to remember. It’s because the brain releases some chemicals which are then causing that you remember it more. Anything you perceive is literally changing your brain. There are being constantly created new synapses between the neurons. The longer the synapse is going to preserve the better you’re going to remember the thing you perceived.
Firstly, the memory is stored in the short-term memory and then it works it’s way into hippocampus and from there it gets somehow coded in other parts of the brain into long term memory. This process is happening mainly during the night while we sleep. There goes the 1st tip to better your memory! Sleep - Check out article on that here. Also, theoretically you should remember more when you are learning before you go sleep. Quick review of what you’ve learned that day helps a ton too. The synapses are going to get stronger and that’s what we want.
I was mainly interested in which chemicals and food would make you remember more. I’ve found out that there are:
- L-theanin which is one of the amino-acids and it’s doing wonders! It’s said that it improves cognitive functions and memory (improvement in cognitive function will improve your memory too because you are perceiving things better). It should make you feel better and relaxed. It also acts like an antioxidant in the brain! And where would we find this awesome substance? Do we have to buy some pills or some nootropics which have L-theanin inside them most of the time? No, because L-thenin is in the tea! Green teas have more of it, though matcha tea has the most of it and right under is senja. Not only it has L-thenin, but also a ton of other beneficial substances, antioxidants and last, but not least caffeine.
- Back at it again with the tea! But this time it’s Baccopa Monieri (Brahmi, Watter Hysop). It grows in India and it has shown to improve cognitive function, reduce stress and improve memory! It has neuroprotective function which is helping with synapses persisting longer. It has been used in ancient times to help memorize lengthy Vedic hymns and chants. This tea was proven to work!
- Alright, no more tea. Lecithin, it’s a phospholipid and they play a key role in membrane of cells. That’s the reason it’s on the list because lecithin is essential for myelin sheath which is covering synapses. And why is that good? Well we know that if the synapse persists more the better memory. Myelin sheaths do exactly that. More myelin means better connection and smaller losses of energy. All that means that your memories should come up easier and should strengthen the memory itself more. And where do we find lecithin? Mainly in egg yolks, fish oil, oil (although there is a lot of it lost during the procedure of making) and some in wholegrain bread.
- Surprisingly, exercise (Full article on exercise HERE) is a huge factor. There a several benefits from undirect effects on memory as well as studies proving direct connection. So 1st of all, when we are studying hard for the exams we should make pauses between 20-30min sessions, because 20-30 minutes is the most you are going to stay focused a lot. Pause can be for example 5 minutes long and in that time, it’s best to do a little bit of exercise. Not only you get energised and blood with oxygen gets to your brain, but it was also shown to directly affect short and long term memory. Well the study was with running and it was shown that if you run before learning, your short-term memory will improve and if you run afterwards your long term one will improve. I think it’s not just running but any exercise. It has also positive effect on creating new neurons and synapses.
- It causes neuron stem cells to create new neurons and strengthen connection between them. We can find apigenin in parsley and celery.
That was the most interesting and important I could think of. Just a few more tips. The best strategy to memorise stuff (not sure if for studying tho) is to imagine some place in your mind you know well, e.g. your house, room or some street, then you are going to start putting things you want to remember into that place. It is difficult to do and requires practice, but it’s one of the best, if not the best practise there is. World’s best memory athletes are using it. When you want to remember something you just imagine that place again, walk through and find what you are looking for. The memory should automatically come up. I think meditation has some positive effects on memory too. Alright, that was all. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!
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