Healthy Memory: You Need Not Pay for It

“Brain-training software may be a waste of time. People who played “mind-boosting” games made the same modest cognitive gains as those who spent a similar amount of time surfing the web.”1 This conclusion comes from a study done by Adrian Owen of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK, who tested brain-training software on volunteers recruited through a BBC television program.

There are many commercial programs that claim to contribute to healthy memories, but many are not based on scientific evidence and do not come with experimental evalutions of their effectiveness. When they do come with scientific evaluations of their effectiveness, it is important to note the nature of the control group that was used for comparison. Studies where the benefits of web-surfing were compared against a control group that did nothing special showed the benefits of web-surfing. In the English study where brain-training software was compared against a web-surfing control group, no benefits were found.

So before spending money out of pocket to build a healthy memory, consider what can be done for free. The Healthymemory Blog advocates using the internet as a means of maintaining and building brain health. We advocate going beyond simple web-surfing and building social relationships and learning substantive bodies of knowledge. This is called transactive memory and is one of the three themes of this blog.

We also believe that having a fundamental understanding of the way that memory and cognitive works is helpful in building a healthy memory. Here you build an understanding of memory performance and how it changes as we age. You will also become aware of fundamental shortcomings of memory, the consequences of these shortcomings, and how to avoid them. Accordingly, Human Memory is another one of the three theses of this blog.

A third theme involves mnemonic techniques themselves. These are techniques that have been around since the time of the ancient Greeks that can lead to phenomenal memory performance. Here memory techniques are addressed directly. Using them not only can improve memory, but the act of using them can also improve your ability to concentrate and provide exercise for a healthy memory.

1Callaway, E. (2010). Skills from the mind gym don’t transfer. New Scientist, 24 April, 10

© Douglas Griffith and, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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