There is a clear analogy between mental, or cognitive, exercise and physical exercise. Athletes will engage in mental exercise that benefits their physical performance. So ice skaters and gymnasts will mentally rehearse their routines. Divers will run through their dives in their mind. Batters might imagine hitting that hanging curve ball out of the park. Physical exercise can enlarge your hippocampus (See the Healthymemory Blog Post, “To Improve Your Memory, Build Your Hippocampus”. The mental demands of memorizing and navigating all the streets of London enlarges the hippocampus of apprentice London cab drivers preparing for their licensing exam.
So both cognitive and physical exercise assist in keeping and enhancing a healthy memory. A modern society provides many devices that keep us from doing physical exercise, so some people decide to by pass these devices and walk to the store and climb the stairs to derive the benefits of physical exercise.
Similarly, there are many devices that help us avoid cognitive exercise. Spell checkers were discussed in the immediately preceding blog post. But we can rely on digital devices to relieve our memories of needing to remember phone numbers, addresses, or appointments. We can look up information as needed on the internet. So our cognitive demands have been reduced substantially analogous to our physical demands.
So why not consider eschewing some of this technology to afford cognitive exercise similar to taking the stairs rather than the elevator, or walking rather than driving to some destination? Use your personal memory rather than transactive memory. You will find a host of techniques for remembering information under the Healthymemory Blog category “Mnemonic Techniques.” There are also free websites to help you master these techniques see
http://www.neuromod.org/ and http://www.thememorypage.net/. Still, for very important appointments I recommend that you use transactive memory as a backup and either write it down or enter it into your digital device! (See the Healthymemory Blog post, “An Embarrassing Failure of Transactive Memory,” and “Another Embarrassing Failure of Transactive Memory)
© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2012. 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 healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.