Exercising Your Brain to Improve Memory

Remaining mentally active and engaged is critical to retaining information as we age.
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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Are there any tricks to improving our ability to learn?

Ottavio Arancio:  There are ways, tricks that people use to learn for us to store more numbers that way.  It’s very important that we exercise at learning.  I bet that relying too much on your notebook or your BlackBerry or whatever does not help in this direction because we are confident that we do not need to learn, but because as I said at the beginning attention is very important, so if you do not pay enough attention because you write that kind of thing then obviously you will learn less, so the secret would be just to obviously if you will pay ten times the same thing you have more chances to learn it or if you use association within what you are learning with something else and you store this association in the brain then you will remember that particular thing better than others, so there are ways people use to memorize and then there are also…you know, differences between one person to the other.  For instance, I’m very bad with remembering numbers, but I’m much better with remembering geographical names, location, et cetera, so I bet a lot of people are better remembering notes in music than others.  It depends also what you like and what you don’t like, just because you pay more attention to what you like than to what you don’t like. 

Question: Are there any treatments available that can help improve our memories?

Ottavio Arancio:  As I said before the only thing that is sure is just to exercise your brain and just like you do with the gym with your muscles and that’s for sure it should help, because the brain…   We have to see the brain also like an organ that has a reserve, so if we build up bigger reserves then when diseases will hit or the memory problem will start occurring we’ll have more time to compensate for the problem, so diseases should be… start later and slower and just…  Not that we will avoid the disease, but it most likely what we scientists think most likely happens is just we have more reserve in the brain, so that is for sure.  I have to say also that although it needs to be confirmed, validated and one cannot dispute that it will end up like with the aluminum story that people say that diet like the Mediterranean diet with presence of antioxidant, this kind of stuff in your diet they should protect and against the problem like Alzheimer’s disease or be more protected, which does not mean again that the… does not mean that it will not happen, but it will happen…  there will be less incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in this population or a population that eats for instance, fish or…  These studies obviously we are to be careful because there are things showing it, but they might not be confirmed in the future, but that’s what I mean the exercise and eating healthy.  It’s not only memory, also other problems.

Question: What type of brain exercises are most effective?

Ottavio Arancio:  Whatever you like to do and it’s not you have to take it like a pill, now I have to do ten crossword puzzles and instead of five.  It does not… it doesn’t work like that.  It’s just to be involved with your life and being active and not…  Unfortunately when sometimes people become old they tend to be less stressed out about life and they or they tend to be depressed, so less involved, less interested, so that’s the thing is just to be active, mentally active and to be mentally active I bet you need to like what you are doing.  I mean you cannot oblige yourself to be mentally active.  I have to be mentally active.  I don’t think it works like that.