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Friday, March 2, 2018

Improve your memory without effort

Por sumily

The correct mechanism by which rest seems to be beneficial is still unknown, but many of its keys lie in how memories are formed. When they are codified, they go through a consolidation period, and they are stored in an area for a long term. There was a time when it was thought that this took place during sleep, at which point the communication between the hippocampus, the area where memories first formed and the cerebral cortex, intensifies, a process that could fortify the new connections neuronal, which are used later to call those memories. This increase in nocturnal activity may explain why we usually assimilate better before going to sleep.

It is normal for all of us to assume that the more we try to memorize any new information and the more effort we put into it, the more satisfactory the results will be. However, what we might need would be exactly the opposite and instead of trying to learn, pause, relax 15 minutes and remember much better we tried to learn, that if you had been engrossed in using that time more productively.

While it is known that we should not rush when we study, recent research shows that we must register minimal interference during these breaks, deliberately avoiding any activity that may interfere with the task of forming memories. For this, it is recommended not to look at the cell phone, or check emails or surf the Internet. It is about offering the brain the opportunity to recharge batteries without distraction.

This revelation is comforting for people with amnesia or some forms of dementia, as it presents a way to recover a latent, previously unknown, ability to learn. The German psychologist Georg Elias Müller and his student Alfons Pilzecker were the first to document the benefits of rest to improve memory in 1900. In one of his many experiments, Müller and Pilzecker asked the participants to assimilate a list of meaningless syllables. One half of the group was asked to quickly learn the content of a second list, while the other was able to rest six minutes before beginning the task. Once the experiment was over, when both groups were examined an hour and a half later, the two revealed notable differences. Those who made the parenthesis remembered about 50% of the list, while the other part only 28%.

This shows that the newly learned information memory is substantially fragile, has barely been regulated, which makes it susceptible to interference if we receive new information. This finding became more evident in the early 2000s, as a result of a study by the researcher at the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom, Sergio Della Sala, and Nelson Cowan of the University of Missouri, in the United States.

On this occasion, the team wanted to discover if reducing interference could be useful to improve the memory of patients who had suffered neurological damage, using a technique similar to that of Müller and Pilzecker, they gave participants a list of 15 words and they put them to the test 10 minutes later. Some subjects were kept engrossed with cognitive tests and others were left to rest in a dark room. The impact of a mild intervention was much deeper than expected.