Whether your motivation for improving your short-term memory is a response to head trauma, aging, testing requirements or to promote neural health, many activities can help achieve your mental goals. The study of neuropsychology indicates that, though neurons decline with age, their subsequent growth and renewal is a process that continues until the end of life. This indicates that no matter a person's age or circumstance, the brain can improve its neuronal connections, and corresponding short term memory, with a little effort. If you suspect mental deterioration or are suffering from a brain-related injury or mental-health issue, consult your doctor for additional support and guidance.
Using an unfamiliar book with pictures or photos, look at a page for 30 seconds; increase levels of detail gradually. Many children's books are great resources for abundance of detail. When you have finished looking at the page, close the book and try to write down everything you saw on it. Open the book to the selected page and note all the things you failed to mention. Repeat this memory-recall process daily and note improvements.
Before you go to the supermarket, make a list of all the things you need. When the list is complete, say the name of each item out loud. Place the list in your pocket. Upon arrival at the store, try to recall your list. See how many items you can remember. When you can't think of anything else, double-check your list to see if you've failed to remember something. Treat yourself to a special item when your list and your memory match.
Simple puzzles like Sudoku and crosswords aid in building short-term memory by challenging the thought and logic processes of the brain. People who engage in mentally stimulating puzzles tend to have lower rates of dementia and enjoy better memories.
The oxygen-rich support of regular exercise is a great memory stimulant for the brain. Exercises need not be strenuous; the gentle movements of yoga, tai chi, qigong and walking are all sufficient to activate and enrich the areas of the brain connected to memory.
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
Most people have trouble with memory at one time or another. Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet or a variety of other factors can inhibit memory. People who undergo life trauma such as loss, moving, depression or other dramatic change can exhibit memory loss similar to that following a head trauma. However, even when life is difficult, you can improve your memory. The key to better short-term memory is repetition. Though writing things down may seem like a "crutch" enabling poor memory, the process of writing actually builds connections in the brain supporting memory strength. Carry a small notebook with you to record things you wish to remember. At the end of the day, re-read your notes. Write everything you need to do the next day on a piece of paper, and place it in a place where you are sure to notice it.
Learn Something New
Learning new things encourages neuronal connections and supports the ability to form new memories. Despite the conventional wisdom that you "can't teach an old dog new tricks," the truth is you are never to old to learn something new. Take the opportunity to develop a healthy memory through learning to play a musical instrument, learning a new language or taking up a new hobby; this will not only improve short-term memory, but can reduce stress and promote mental health.
- "Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology"; Bryan Kolb & Ian Whishaw; 2009
- "Secret Codes for Kids"; Robert Allen; 2002
- "An Introduction to Brain and Behavior"; Bryan Kolb & Ian Whishaw; 2005
- "Natural Mental Health"; Carla Wills-Brandon, Ph.D; 2005