People who experience slight bouts of forgetfulness may wonder if there are ways to improve memory. They may curiously question, “Can memory be improved?” The answer is likely yes if the cause is not related to an underlying disease or condition that affects parts of the brain and is absent of cure.
This article relates to maintaining healthy brains and/or improving memory ability in adults with some slight cognitive impairment. For clarity, we will define slight cognitive impairment as normal bouts of forgetfulness or age-related memory loss that does not disrupt daily life. Memory improvement means increasing mental focus and clarity and retaining information better.
In a related Amac article, we learned the importance of exercise, eating and sleeping well, and using stress management to fend off brain fog. Essentially, brain fog is a non-medical term used to describe periods of thinking when memory or brain power is sluggish. Most often, brain fog is a condition that is related to lifestyle. It may also be part of the normal aging process. However, frequent and serious memory lapses, or those which interfere with daily living, should be reported to a doctor to rule out diseases, medical conditions, or injuries to the brain.
Brain or cognitive training
Brain or cognitive training is a real thing. Many doctors believe it’s a beneficial way to maintain and improve thinking and expand memory abilities. It is frequently described as a “use it or lose it” method designed to strengthen brain function. Brain training uses mental exercises to stimulate the mind in the form of games, drills, and activities. It is particularly helpful for middle-aged and older adults who face some subtle age-related declines in memory.
What’s the goal of brain training?
The goal is to improve memory and thinking skills so that older people who face subtle memory decline may live mentally well and independently for as long as possible. While some studies indicate that brain training might be helpful at slowing cognitive declines, likely more studies are needed to understand its full benefits.
Some bad & good news…
The bad news: Unfortunately, brain training does not prevent or stop the progression of dementia. Alzheimer’s, a neurodegenerative disease, is the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease typically worsens with time and currently has no cure. The good news: While brain training cannot prevent or stop dementia, it can be a useful tool for individuals with mild bouts of forgetfulness to improve memory and thinking.
How is brain or cognitive training done?
Brain training involves those activities which engage the brain – and even the body – as physical exercise has brain benefits, too. Examples include:
- Cardiovascular fitness
- Learning a language
- Playing video or online games
- Doing puzzles
- Playing board games
- And more
Note that watching television is not considered to be the best brain stimulating exercise. Those exercises which people actively participate in, not passively do, remain of most value to fuel the brain. Reading, largely defined as both passive and active, is known to powerfully work out the brain. In fact, studies show it improves brain and memory function. Since reading relaxes people, it also reduces stress, which has a positive effect on the brain. The calming benefits of reading are now being studied to determine if they, in fact, have the potential to decrease chances of developing some diseases.
To answer the question, “Can memory be improved?”, we discover that it is quite possible. Numerous studies point to links between game playing and improved performance in some individuals. Per Geico Living, studies have shown that playing video games regularly may increase the brain’s gray matter (associated with muscle control, memories, perception, and spatial navigation) and boost brain connectivity. To learn more on this intriguing topic, read our related articles here.
This article is not medically reviewed. It is purely informational and is not intended as a medical resource or substitute for medical advice.