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How to improve my memory and mind in general

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 18, 2010 at 7:52 AM

The topic pretty much says it:

So, how could I improve my memory the paleo way? I'm especially interested in ways to improve my long-term memory but would also be glad about advices concerning working memory, concentration and such.

Please enlighten me :)

3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on November 19, 2010
at 02:10 AM

Personally, the SRS, but only because it is the tool I have most fully implemented it into my daily habits. I haven't gotten good at mnemonic techniques yet, and I'm only part way through Wake Up Productive. I have a feeling if I stick to Wake Up Productive it will be the most useful habit change in my life. Dual-n-back is really hard to quantify in terms of results. The science for it is there. I would compare it to fish oil in that there is a lot of science promoting its benefits on the brain but you don't really "feel" them right away.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 18, 2010
at 03:49 PM

Excellent tips. Which of these has been most useful to you personally?

1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on November 18, 2010
at 02:07 PM

Andrew, have you read the palmdoro technique? It is basically interval training to build focus and attention.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on November 18, 2010
at 02:05 PM

Meditation = concentration

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on November 18, 2010
at 08:20 AM

I wonder if mental intervals could work. A great way to justify cram sessions.

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8 Answers

8
3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on November 18, 2010
at 11:24 AM

Working memory, which isn't really memory in our common parlance, can be trained by using dual-n-back software. See the study by Jaeggi et al. There's some free dual-n-back software out there called Brain Workshop which tries to replicate the study.

For long term memory I recommend using a spaced repetition system. First, read the Wired article on Peter Wozniak, then look up the Wikipedia entry on spaced repetition. Then search for the program called "Anki." Download it, it's free. Watch their introductory video for an explanation. This single tip could give you returns in your life that are currently unimaginable to you.

Concentration is also trained. The first step is to stop multi-tasking, especially on the computer. Don't chat online, browse 5 windows, and have the TV or radio going in the background. Single task, and work up to longer and longer periods of single tasking. If I were to offer one product or program related to this it would be "Wake Up Productive" by Eben Pagan, but it may be expensive to you.

Again for long term memory, there are plenty of mnemonic techniques to use that go back all the way to the ancient Greeks. Look up memory contests on Google. Those people that memorize the order of a deck of cards in under a minute have trained themselves to be that way. There's a program called PMemory which might be useful. They offer the book for free, but marking and help by the teachers has to be paid for.

Of course, all of this is outside what "Grok" would do. Then again Grok didn't speak 10 languages, yet you can accomplish that with an SRS system.

3a966a805e09d88b0f223f2985392e4f

(836)

on November 19, 2010
at 02:10 AM

Personally, the SRS, but only because it is the tool I have most fully implemented it into my daily habits. I haven't gotten good at mnemonic techniques yet, and I'm only part way through Wake Up Productive. I have a feeling if I stick to Wake Up Productive it will be the most useful habit change in my life. Dual-n-back is really hard to quantify in terms of results. The science for it is there. I would compare it to fish oil in that there is a lot of science promoting its benefits on the brain but you don't really "feel" them right away.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 18, 2010
at 03:49 PM

Excellent tips. Which of these has been most useful to you personally?

4
691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on November 18, 2010
at 03:34 PM

Try intermittent fasting!

A recent study at Yale University Medical School proposes that hunger aides in helping us learn and remember things!

The study found that increased ghrelin levels increased learning in mice. Ghrelin is released by the stomach when the body is experiencing hunger.

They found that ghrelin was binding to cells not just in the primitive part of the brain that registers hunger (the hypothalamus) but also in the region that plays a role in learning, memory and spatial analysis (the hippocampus). The researchers then put mice injected with ghrelin and control mice through a maze and other intelligence tests. In each case, the biochemically ???hungry??? mice ??? mice infused with ghrelin ??? performed notably better than those with normal levels of the hormone. The finding was startling, but ???it makes sense,??? Horvath says. ???When you are hungry, you need to focus your entire system on finding food in the environment.??? In fact, some biologists believe that human intelligence itself evolved because it made early hominids more effective hunters, gathers and foragers.

The theory goes if you want to learn and retain something maybe do a little IF before and during the lesson and your brain will be more receptive.

Article link...

4
5f0158c23fcb5636e57b4ce097784da0

(1386)

on November 18, 2010
at 12:16 PM

performance of the brain is best when chronic stress is low and blood sugar is stable and in normal range (chronic elevated cortisol and blood sugar levels are probably #1 reason for mental decline with age). furthermore, make sure to not be deficient in any important nutrient for the brain like B12, B6, DHA, cholines, etc. for example, just by taking, say, 100mg of activated B6 and 100mg phosphatidylserine, most people will experience a strong brain and mood boost. there are many other natural supplements that do similar things like ginseng or gingko. but keeping stress low and blood sugar stable/low is by far then most important factor long term.

2
3c04e97f68c270d7a03861e2daf75f68

on November 18, 2010
at 02:46 PM

I feel it's kinda preaching to the choir but since you asked, Seth Roberts has data to suggest that eating more butter and animal fats in general increase his arithmetic ability. Here's a good summary: http://quantifiedself.com/2010/08/arithmetic-and-butter.php

He's a good read in general, for example he often blogs about ways on how to measure if you are really making the progress you want too.

Caveat: he seems to love his flax seed oil. WTF!!

UPDATE 26/11/10

It's somewhat tangential to the original discussion but Seth seems to address the flax seed preference in a recent post "Flaxseed Oil vs. Fish Oil":

http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2010/11/21/flaxseed-oil-vs-fish-oil/

2
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on November 18, 2010
at 02:02 PM

The brain is a use it or lose it tool.

I treat it like a muscle and train it.

If I want better memory, I practice memorizing things.

If I want better math skills, I do math in my head.

Eating paleo, sufficient EFA etc takes care of my brain fuel. DHA is brain food

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22923)

on November 18, 2010
at 02:05 PM

Meditation = concentration

1
5f0158c23fcb5636e57b4ce097784da0

(1386)

on November 18, 2010
at 03:27 PM

ah, btw, forgot to add these two awesome presentations about brain health from two of my favorite "gurus" in the realm of health, disease prevention and nutrition:

both are light years ahead of mainstream medicine and also fit into our paleo approach very well. you should definitively subscribe to both of them.

1
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on November 18, 2010
at 01:52 PM

To expand on Bryan's comment on memnomics I want to suggest "The memory house of matto ricci" which is about. A monk teaching memory techniques in asia. The memory house technique works pretty well for long term storage and is one of the oldest tricks I know of. There are other sources but this is available and quite readable.

0
Aa1d5fbb9d8051538161c9a03afd384e

on November 18, 2010
at 08:56 AM

Here in Spain (and all over Mediterranean Basin I suppose...) it's said that eating raisins enhances memory. I really don't know what might be true behind this claim, but I suppose it would be because its high sugars content, or maybe boron...

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