Some of us are blessed with great memory and some of us, not so much. In light of countless studies it is evident we have the capacity to enhance our cognitive capacity and ability to store new and recall old memories signiciantly, thorough simple daily 'hacks'.
Gaming of many types has been found to both improve cognitive function and to help prevent cognitive decline. So which type of gaming is best?
Video Gaming - Recently studies, including a 2017 study out of Cambridge University found that video games improved the brain function of those with early memory problems. Whilst a 2015 study conducted at the University of California and published in The Journal of Neuroscience found “playing three-dimensional video games can boost the formation of memories”.
Puzzles & Boardgames - Psychologist Graham Jones in speaking to the Irish Examiner declares that “any games that enhance visualisation will help memory”, regular playing of card games such a Poker and Uno or solitary games like Sodoku can increase memory recall and concentration.
Brain games - Yep, brain training games exist and they are readily accessible via the apple and android app stores. Games such as Mind Games, Brain Well, Lumosity and Elevate amongst others claim brilliant benefits for Memory along with other cognitive functions in as little as 3 minutes per day.
Omega 3 -
There are 3 main types of Omega-3 fatty acids, the three most sought after are ALA, EPA and DHA.
Following a 30-day double blind trial researchers concluded that “following the EPA-rich supplementation, participants’ brains worked ‘less hard’ and achieved a better cognitive performance” whilst “DHA-rich supplementation led to a significant increase in functional activation in the right precentral gyrus” (this is the principal brain area involved in motor function). http://bit.ly/2kgxoWH
Deficiencies of DHA is associated with impaired brain function and the onset of Alzheimers disease. - http://bit.ly/2x9Od6P
Both EPA and DHA can be found abundantly in Mackerel, Salmon, micro algae, Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Egg Yolks, Herring, Tuna and White Fish. Vegans and Vegetarians may particularly struggle to include sufficient Omega 3 in their diets, however, Vegan Omega 3 supplements do exist and can be readily found on the likes on Amazon or health foods shops.
Cocoa Flavanoids -
Yep thats right, Cocoa, as in the type thats found in Chocolate. Numerous studies have relayed the benefits of regular consumption of Cocoa Flavanoids in the diet on Cognitive Function, Memory and Long term cognitive health. A 2014 study published by the American Society for Nutrition concluded “evidence that regular CF consumption can reduce some measures of age-related cognitive dysfunction” - http://bit.ly/2fJxjJx
Whilst the majority of available chocolate will contain some amounts of Flavanoids, general consensus is that Cocoa Powder and Dark Chocolate are your most nutritious and optimal sources. Dark Chocolate ranged from 35 to 99% cocoa solids whilst Milk Chocolate is typically around 35-45%.
Caffeine is the most commonly used Nootropic on the market, it is estimated that up to 90% of adult Americans consume Caffeine regularly. Caffeine appears in most Nootropic supplement stacks so it should be no surprise that it has merit. A 2000 study published by The Human Pschopharmacology found that “habitual caffeine consumption was significantly related to better long-term memory performance and faster locomotor speed” - http://bit.ly/2wu5A2C
Caffeine is found prominently in Coffee, Tea, Functional & Energy Drinks, Caffeine supplements and Nootropic supplement stacks.
Section Recap - Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Fatty Fish / Omega 3 Supplements, Nootropic Supplements. Other foods commonly linked with brain health, function and memory capacity include Dairy (Vitamin B12), Beef Liver (Choline), Ginger and Rosemary.
We all know the physical health benefits of regular physical exercise, well, it appears physical activity is also brilliant for cognitive function.
Weight Training - A Study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise concluded that “Strength training for 60 minutes, three times a week for 6 months can help improve short-and long-term memory performance and attention as you age”
Aerobic Exercise - A study at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Carolina concluded that participants who performed moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise showed increase in blood flow in the processing and memory centres of the brain, along with correlations in improved attention and planning abilities. - http://bit.ly/2yj6ljA
4. Learning a new skill or second language
As with physical training, in order to grow our bodies need a form of controlled stress. Our brains are no different, learning a cognitively demanding skill or language is shown to improve memory formation and delay cognitive decline. Results reveal increases in hippocampus volume and cortical thickness during foreign-language acquisition. - http://bit.ly/1S3VAPS
The use of smart phones can dramatically increase the ease of leaning a new language through applications such as Duolingo, Memrise and Busuu.
Researchers at the University of California found a study group whom integrated 10-20 minutes daily or mindful meditation experienced an average increased score in GRE Verbal tests of circa 13% - http://bit.ly/2yRAhk1
The Journal of Black Studies published by Sage Publications found that students who had meditated for a semester had “significantly higher GPA’s than those who did not meditate” - http://bit.ly/2xb3kSx
Starting meditation can be daunting, fortunately an abundance of advise can be found on Youtube and smart phone applications such as Headspace teach guided meditation starting from a few minutes per session.
Post Recap = Nutrition, Gaming, Exercise, Meditation, Constant Learning & Bonus: Nootropic Supplementation.