Memory is the capacity of the human brain to encode,store, retain and recall information. Memory is basically the sum total of what we remember which gives us the capability to recall past experiences and learn from them. Brain is the seat of memory that stores everything a human learns. Human memory can be divided into sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory.
Sensory memory takes the information from the senses and retains it briefly but accurately. Sensory memory is what helps humans perceive things and is short lived.
Short term memory temporarily records events and has a very limited capacity. It is short lived but is essential for retaining important events in the brain.
Long term memory stores everything that is important. When humans recall, it is from the long term memory as it stores everything that they have learnt or are learning. The capacity of long term memory is unlimited and it lasts a lifetime.
The first step in creating a memory in the brain is encoding which begins with perception. Humans perceive many things at the same time but can pay attention to only a few things. It is the things that they pay attention to that get encoded in the hippocampus of the brain. The sensory memory first perceives some information that gets stored in short term memory. The more important and information that repeats often is transferred to long term memory where it is retained. When humans remember something, they recollect or recall the information from the long term memory.
Long term memory remembers things very effectively but sometimes it may not function well and distort information. This happens when the information was not stored and encoded correctly. When this happens, humans tend to forget things. As humans age, the long term memory may further deteriorate. This happens because as humans age, they lose brain cells that produce a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which aids learning and boost memory. This causes memory to decline. There are other factors as well that affect the memory adverse and speed up its decline.
Memory boosters or memory enhancing drugs are medications that help to boost the brain functioning. There are many memory boosters available but these are available only in prescription. Memory boosters help to:
- Increase learning ability and retention
- Increase focus and concentration
- Increase IQ
- Increase productivity and creativity
- Improve mental performance
However, memory boosters also have their side effects. These are:
- Memory boosters can cause headaches and nausea.
- The use of memory boosters can make one addictive to them.
- Some of the memory enhancing drugs are not approved for safe use and may have many adverse health effects.
- Memory boosters may cause insomnia.
- The use of memory boosting drugs can cause nervousness and agitation.
- Memory enhancing drugs can even lead to high blood pressure and several coronary diseases.
Natural memory boosters
Since memory boosting drugs have many adverse side effects on the health, it is better to try natural ways of boosting memory. The natural methods of boosting memory can be tried and applied at any age without any risks on the health. Some of these are:
- Staying active is the best memory booster. Physical exercises increase blood flow to the brain keeping it healthy.
- Breathing is a great exercise to stimulate the right and left hemispheres of the brain and even improve memory.
- Exercise the brain by trying to learn new things everyday.
- A healthy balanced diet is essential to improve and stimulate memory. To boost memory, one must include memory boosting foods like carrots, milk, spinach, almonds, walnuts etc. in the diet.
- Memory boosting herbs can be used as supplements to diet to ensure that the memory is improved and stimulated.
- Detoxification of mind and body can help get rid of toxic residues that weaken the memory and thus help to improve memory to a great extent.
- Lemon taken in dried form can help to improve the capacity of the brain to learn, store and retrieve information.
- Chewing gum boosts memory as it increases the heart rate thereby supplying more oxygen to the brain.
Playing mentally stimulating games like puzzles and riddles also help to increase memory and improve the functioning of the brain.