Complex marvel: brain
Our brain is a complex marvel. Constantly making new connections between nerve cells, it’s not uncommon for our mind to dig up memories we had long let slip. Conversely, we often can’t recall things, processes or names that should be familiar to us.
What dims our memory?
Various factors contribute to how well or how poorly we remember something:
- When suffering from stress or fatigue, we can’t expect our memory to perform at its best.
- The same applies to diseases that damage not only the body but also the brain. The most well-known are dementia diseases (such as Alzheimer's). But fever, depression and diabetes can also lead to impaired mental performance.
- Taking medication regularly or consuming drugs and /or alcohol can dim the memory.
- With older people especially, who often drink too little, a lack of fluids can also negatively impact their cognitive abilities.
It is scientifically undisputed that memory exercises can specifically help people with dementia to maintain or boost their cognitive functions. But even if you're young and healthy, it's still a good idea to keep your brain fit. Even more than that, children who train their memory from an early age tackle tasks more happily and easily. Memory training is therefore not a question of age, as our brain is extremely adaptable. Scientists refer to this as neuroplasticity.
Memory lapse or dementia?
Minor memory lapses are usually harmless and something we all experience from time to time. However, if you find you are constantly forgetting names or can no longer recall routine procedures at work, you should take heed and discuss the issue with your family doctor. Although it is mostly older people who suffer from dementia diseases, there are, according to «Alzheimer Switzerland», exceptional cases in which younger people are also affected. And this calls for instant action.
How do I keep my brain in good shape?
There are countless exercises to keep your brain in shape. And they can often be built into everyday life:
Playing helps keep the brain fit, whether this means grappling with a Sudoku alone, or playing chess with a buddy. The classic is – and the name says it all – the memory game, a good exercise for short-term memory.
Memorising your shopping list with pictures is a way of giving your brain a workout every time you go shopping. Just check before reaching the checkout to see if it actually worked.
- Left, right, left, right: trying now and again to do things – like brushing your teeth – with the «wrong» hand, also stimulates the brain.
Creativity and exercise stimulate the brain cells, whether it’s dancing, painting, cycling or workouts.
- A healthy and efficient brain also needs the right food. At the top of the list are nuts, such as walnuts or hazelnuts.
Before smartphones, most of us kept frequently used phone numbers in our heads. And today? How about storing the most important numbers of family and friends in your head instead of on a SIM card.
If you want to go one step further, and have the time, try holding the newspaper upside down to read it.