Improving Your Memory

Is it really possible to improve your memory? If you’ve ever found yourself forgetting where you left your keys or blanking out information on important tests then you have probably wished that your memory was a bit better. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to help improve your memory. These 8 research-proven strategies can effectively improve memory, enhance recall, and increase retention of information.

1. Do brain training

a man improving his memory with a brain training exercise on an iPad

In a similar way to muscles, the brain needs regular use to stay healthy. Mental workouts are just as essential to gray matter as other factors, and challenging the mind can help it grow and expand, which may improve memory. A large trial from the journal found that people who did just 15 minutes of brain training activities at least 5 days a week had improvements in brain function. The participants’ working memory, short term memory, and problem solving skills all significantly improved when researchers compared them to a control group doing crossword puzzles.

2. Exercise

Physical exercise has a direct impact on brain health. As the author of research in paper notes, regular exercise reduces the risk of cognitive decline with age and protects the brain against degeneration. The results of a 2017 study suggest that aerobic exercise can improve memory function in people with early Alzheimer,s disease. The control group did nonaerobic stretching and toning. Aerobic exercise increases a person’s heart rate and can include any of these activities:

  • brisk walking
  • running
  • hiking
  • swimming
  • dancing
  • cross-country skiing

3. Avoid Cramming

Study regularly to improve memory

Studying materials over a number of sessions gives you the time you need to adequately process information. Research has continuously shown that students who study regularly remember the material far better than those who do all of their studying in one marathon session.

4. Utilize Mnemonic Devices

Use mneumonics to improve memory

Mnemonic device are a technique often used by students to aid in recall. A mnemonic is simply a way to remember information. For example, you might associate a term you need to remember with a common item that you are very familiar with. The best mnemonics are those that utilize positive imagery, humor, or novelty.

5. Elaborate and Rehearse

Rehearse information to improve memory

In order to recall information, you need to encode what you are studying into long-term memory. One of the most effective encoding techniques is known as elaborate rehearsal. An example of this technique would be to read the definition of a key term, study the definition of that term and then read a more detailed description of what that term means. After repeating this process a few times, you’ll probably notice that recalling the information is much easier.


meditation class

Mindfulness meditation may help improve memory. The authors of a research notes note that many studies show meditation improves brain function, reduces markers of brain degeneration, and improves both working memory and long term memory. The researchers observed the brains of people who regularly practiced meditation and those who did not. Their results indicated that making a habit of meditating may cause long term changes in the brain, including increasing brain plasticity, which helps keep it healthy.

7. Reduce sugar intake

Sugary foods can taste delicious and feel rewarding at first, but they may play a role in memory loss. Research on animal models noted that a diet high in sugary drinks has a link to Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers also found that drinking too many sugary drinks, including fruit juice, may have a connection a lower total brain volume, which is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Avoiding extra sugar may help combat this risk. While naturally sweet foods, such as fruits, are a good addition to a healthful diet, people can avoid drinks sweetened with sugar and foods with added, processed sugars.

8. Eat dark chocolate

Eating dark chocolate sounds like an indulgence, but it may also improve a person’s memory. The results of a 2011 study suggest that cocoa flavonoids, which are the active compounds in chocolate, help boost brain function. People who ate dark chocolate performed better on spatial memory tests than those who did not. The researchers noted that cocoa flavonoids improved the blood flow to the brain.

With that said, it is important not to add more sugar to the diet, and so people should aim for at least 72% cacao content in dark chocolate and avoid chocolate with added sugar.