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May is National Mental Health Month here in the U.S., but mental and emotional wellness is really the foundation of health no matter what the time of year. While some states are slowly beginning to transition out of lockdown, it may still be awhile until things feel “normal” again. If you’ve been feeling the effects of isolation, or if you find that mental health is something that requires some extra attention in general, this is the episode for you.
Maybe you’ve heard of people who have Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) and remember everything from their lives. Or perhaps you’re even familiar with the USA Memory Championship competitors, who recall long strings of random faces and numbers on command. The ability to form and recall detailed memories is one of the most amazing parts of the mind.
While some people are born with an exceptionally powerful capacity for memory, anyone can implement certain methods and habits to strengthen their mnemonic ability. Improving your memory can make work or academics easier, deepen your relationships, and help you hold onto precious moments.
How to Increase Memory Retention and Recall
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep and memory are intrinsically linked in the human mind. Being sleep-deprived makes it harder to recall existing memories, and it can even prevent your brain from forming new ones. The brain uses both the NREM and REM stages of sleep to consolidate memories and release unnecessary information.
Mental exercises like puzzles are a great way to make your brain stronger, but don’t forget to work up a full-body sweat as well. Regular aerobic exercise is linked to better mental functioning in older adults.
The best time to exercise to build your memory is four hours after learning something new. A 2016 study had participants learn 90 picture-location associations and then tested their recall. The group that exercised four hours after the lesson, as opposed to the groups who did not exercise, or exercised immediately after, had the best scores.
If you’ve tried dozens of memory exercises and nothing is clicking, you might try a memory-booster. C60 is a naturally occurring molecule made up of 60 carbon atoms, extensively explored in biomedical research. Perhaps the most powerful antioxidant currently discovered, C60 works at the cellular level to neutralize free radicals. Taking a C60 extract has been shown to increase longevity, support healthy immune responses, and prevent cognitive decline. C60 supplements can also improve mental function, increase memory, and reduce oxidative stress.
The memory palace, or method of loci, is a memory training technique dating back to ancient Greece. Popularized by the detective Sherlock Holmes, anyone can use the method to improve memory retention and recall.
To build your memory palace, visualize a place you know very well. You might walk through it in person, noticing as much as you can, so you can rebuild it in your mind’s eye. Once you can picture the place clearly, take the information you want to remember, and assign it a spot in your “palace.” The more colorful it is, the better you’ll remember it. For instance, if you want to remember “milk” on your shopping list, you might imagine a gallon of milk bouncing up and down on your desk, singing opera. Then, any time you “walk” through your palace in your mind, you can simply “pick up” the memories wherever you left them.
The human mind automatically searches for patterns; chunking is one of the memory strategies that make the most of that tendency. If you think of phone numbers in blocks, separated into sections such as 555-866-0001 (as opposed to 5 5 5 8 6 6 0 0 0 1), then you already know how to “chunk.” You can adapt this method for larger amounts of data by grouping them into categories. For instance, if you’re learning new vocabulary, trying grouping words based on their first letter or by topic.
You likely learned many helpful acronyms at school. Many people know HOMES to remember the five Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior), or the acrostic Every Good Boy Does Fine to remember the lines of the music staff (EGBDF). Acronyms and acrostics are easy ways to improve memory that are customizable to diverse groups of data.
If you’re looking for how to increase recall, one of the easiest memory techniques is to close your laptop and pick up a pen. Handwriting your notes is proven to improve your ability to retain and synthesize information. Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham once summarized this effect as, “students remember what they think about.” While typing can help you transcribe data verbatim, handwriting draws connections that might otherwise be missed.
Mind mapping is an innovative way to brainstorm ideas and build your recall memory capacity. To create a mind map, put the central idea in the middle. From there, create subtopic branches, filling them in with detail as you go, and connecting related ones. This nonlinear atlas allows you to build complex concepts and remember facts based on their location on the map.
Learn a Foreign Language
Being bilingual increases your brain’s advanced processing, reduces your risk of Alzheimer’s, and builds gray matter. All of these benefits translate to increased memory capacity. It might seem like an extreme answer, but when you’re looking for how to improve short term memory and long term recall, learning another language might be the best way to build more storage space in your brain.
Actors memorizing lines swear by the same technique children use to learn the alphabet: set it to music. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to learn a song than it is to learn a speech? When paired with a melody, the brain can “suggest” the next line of information to you by pulling from the melodic structure.
Working on how to improve memory function can help you lead a richer life all around. Implementing specific techniques, habits, and supplements can help you build your mnemonic ability. Being able to recall meaningful facts, dates, recipes, names, and more will not only impress people and help you get ahead – it can also help you hold onto what’s important.
- health benefits
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- The C60 Show
You can also send your questions to email@example.com for our next webinar! We have a webinar every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the Month at 7:00 pm MST.
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