Mental Memory – keeping your mind sharp | Macro

Mental Memory – keeping your mind sharp


By Richard Hayes, Managing Director, North America

Many of you are familiar with the term “muscle memory”.  When a muscle has been trained in a specific way and has been repetitively exercised to perform a certain function, it has an uncanny ability to return to this “trained” state; muscle memory.  This ability for muscles and physical activity to be dormant for a long period of time then recovered in a relatively quick time period has been studied in the scientific and health sciences community extensively.  I am neither a physiologist nor a neuroscientist, but, I wanted to share a phenomenon that I find equally as fascinating as muscle memory… mental memory.  It is my contention that that the mind is much more stubborn than muscles and must be exercised more frequently in an effort to stay sharp. 

My contentions are not based on science but rather on my own personal observations and ability to recall or remember events and information from my past.  We frequently hear terms like “it’s an over 50 thing” or “early Alzheimer’s is kicking in” used as excuses for the inability to recall information.  It is my belief that the advent of the computer has greatly diminished the need to remember things, however trivial, and has caused the memory to become “lazy”.  

For those of you who grew up without cell phones; remember when you memorized everyone’s phone numbers?  The introduction of the computer as the replacement for the human memory has caused the “memory muscle” to become lazy.  No longer do we need to remember important dates, phone numbers, addresses, etc., because they can all be stored for immediate recall.  This dormancy of the “mind muscle” (memory) is pervasive and I believe has negatively affected other cognitive areas of our brain.  In order to combat this lethargy of the mind, I have made some simple adjustments to my behavior to help me exercise the mind and maintain my “memory health”.  Following are a few suggestions to help you fire your collective synapses. 

We are all creatures of habit and tend to perform tasks the same way and create our own rituals which preclude active thought; driving home on the same route each day, the order in which we dress, household chores, etc.  Try mixing things up.  Take a different route home occasionally, try raking the leaves with the opposite hand, put a sock and a shoe on then put the other sock and shoe on, etc.  Whatever your normal ritual is… shake it up!  These changes may seem small but you will be amazed how much effort and concentration is required to make even minor changes in your daily rituals.  There are websites that highlight and promote some of these rarely used cognitive skills; feel free to visit    

In order for the mind/memory muscle to respond as quickly as the other muscles of the human anatomy, it is important that it be exercised more frequently and stretched with motions and directions which are not innate.  Try and make a decided effort to memorize items that you need to recall frequently; phone numbers, email addresses, etc.  In order to keep the mind sharp, exercise your memory!  Make a concerted effort to reduce your dependence on computers and electronic calendars.  Only by using your ability to recall frequently will you enhance your “mental memory”.   

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