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Maybe it is my age (approaching 41), but my short term memory isn't as good as it was when I was younger. As such, I feel that my level of productivity is suffering. I am looking for ways to increase my memory stamina?

I know that I can make a note of things that I need to remember but they can be cumbersome at times. Of course, the really important stuff gets documented and filed away. But stuff such as trying to remember someone's name or his job is getting a bit difficult for me.

Any ideas?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

If you'd like to increase your memory stamina, the very best thing you can do for yourself is practice! Remember, your brain is a muscle, and without excercise, it becomes weaker.

Brain excercises such as

  • Puzzle games
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Flashcards
  • Etc

Are all viable options to help you to increase your memory and other brain functions as well.

If you like, there are specific websites/applications aimed at this purpose such as :

As well as even specific foods that aide your brain's memory functions

  • blueberries
  • apples
  • spinach
  • ...

Or even foods generally aimed at improved brain function

  • berries
  • cherries
  • apples
  • ...

As well as sleep studies

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+1 for some some excellent suggestions. – tehnyit Jun 30 '11 at 9:36
I don't think many of these will actually help in the general case. See Skeptics.SE: Does solving Sudoku puzzles improve your mental abilities?. (It applies to other puzzles as well.) – Mateen Ulhaq Dec 10 '11 at 2:30

Short term memory allows you to remember something for some seconds up to a small amount of minutes. It decays over time at a much faster rate than our long term memory, in the case that we don't recall...

enter image description here

If we want to learn something so that we remember it for a longer time, it is important that we associate it with things we know or that we recall it often so that we don't forget it. Yet another trick is that "chunking" too long words or numbers into sub parts, preferably of length 3.

  • 4179428329 is easier to remember as 417 942 8329 (chunked, association - telephone number)

  • 01021768 is easier to remember as 01 02 1768 (chunked, associaton - day month year)

  • Huzsundncov Woomi is easier to remember as Huz sund ncov, Woo mi (chunked, syllables)

By recalling our memories, and recapitulating on the longer run, we remember things.

Note how the short term memory, the first minutes, only increases because we keep recalling it. In the long term memory, the rest of our time span, we see on the learning curve that recalling it after certain time periods will help us remember things.

So, don't just hear his name X, but recall it by saying "Goodbye X" at the end of the conversation and perhaps you think about it once more on transit. Well, you might need to recall less/more often and less/more attempts for the memory to survive; your mileage may vary...

If you meet him often, you will get chances to recall his name every time you talk to him. But if you haven't seem him for months to years, forgetting his name if he hasn't been a (good) friend of you is normal as we haven't recalled it in all that time. No, you don't necessarily have to plan on recalling him at home, the best you can do is write his name in your phone book...

My post is not all inclusive at all, I gave the basics as a start. You can read more tips, check out Fitness & Nitrution to improve your physical condition which might benefit your health and memory, as well as look online for memory exercises and games (perhaps, something as simple as matching pairs of cards).

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The image does not exist any longer. Photobucket is 90-day storage, IIRC. – Mateen Ulhaq Dec 10 '11 at 2:32
@muntoo: I didn't even upload it there, I'll see whether I can fetch a similar one soon... – Tom Wijsman Dec 10 '11 at 3:30

Some ideas:

Link the fact or name to an easy to remember, funny attribute of the person, repeat the information while talking to the person. Go to your contact list from time to tile to trigger memories.

Use mindmaps to improve your memory in general.

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I think the Dual N-back game has been shown to increase memory and fluid IQ in some studies.

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