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Memory math tricks also improve long-term memory

With memory tricks, you can remember impressive amounts of information for a short period. New research now shows that these same tricks also help you remember things over time.

For example, by walking down a familiar path in your mind, and placing a loaf of bread, banana, or yogurt at each intersection, you can remember entire shopping lists. When you’re in the supermarket, you walk down that path again in your mind and see things, as they were. With this type of memory training, you can improve your memory greatly. Memory champions often use memory deficits, as they put in their minds the things they need to remember.

Usually these techniques are used to save things for a short period, such as a memory tournament. But these technologies also appear to work in the long term to improve memory, according to new research. Four months later, people still remember many things.

Less brain activity and better memory

The Austrian researchers screened a group of fifty people who were tested before and after a six-week memory training. At the end of the training, they were given a list of words, which they had to remember as much as possible. Immediately after testing, they were able to reproduce an average of 62, compared to 36 for the untrained control group. Four months later, they were still able to retrieve 50 of these words from their memory, while the untrained group had only memorized 27.

Not only did people continue to have significantly better memory after four months, but their brain activity also decreased – a sign that their brains were performing memory tasks more efficiently. At the same time, the number of connections between brain cells in which new information can be stored has increased. In fact, the participants’ brain activity was similar to that of the memory champions. To write Researchers at Science Advances.

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