Many people dismiss problems with memory as completely normal – forgetting the name of the co-worker down the hall, losing keys, maybe even missing the occasional deadline. Whilst forgetting is accepted as part of life, it is possible to improve working memory by pursuing a brain training routine. If this is integrated with a more holistic mindfulness and well-being regime, for example alongside physical fitness training and meditation, this can lead to a healthier, happier way of life.
Forgetfulness is something that everyone suffers from on occasion, but some people seem more forgetful than others; they may be ridiculed by friends and family lapses such as forgetting the time or place they were supposed to meet when socializing. One frequent aspect of forgetfulness people report is misplacing their keys; this in itself is not an event of major significance.
However, the potential knock-on effects are – being late for a job interview, an important meeting (perhaps one regarding recurring lateness!) could be more damaging. Whilst ‘being forgetful’ may be written off as a character flaw by understanding family members, friends, and co-workers, sooner or later it may get the forgetful individual into hot water! Furthermore working memory is not just about ‘forgetfulness’ – it is essential for learning new skills and content and therefore everyone from schoolchildren to grandparents could stand to benefit from improvements to this function of the brain.
Brain training became more of a fashion with the introduction of handheld console games claiming to improve mental sharpness in the early ‘noughties’. Several celebrities fronted advertising campaigns advocating the use of these games to improve mental sharpness and avoid age-related memory impairments. Some types of cognitive training programs have been proven to increase retention of multi-step instructions, and improve problem-solving skills and concentration – all skills with working memory at their core. Many effective memory boosting exercises are now available on the internet as well as on handheld consoles.
How Training Helps
Brain training activities usually involve games which revolve around remembering sequences, starting with fewer steps to remember but extending to more complicated patterns. Just like a fitness training regime, it needs to be carried out regularly and routinely to have lasting effects.
The benefits are for everyone; schoolchildren with improved working memory retain facts and information more efficiently because a strong working memory will transfer more information into the long-term memory. For those with a job requiring attention to detail, improved working memory can boost productivity and accuracy. Furthermore, what some people might consider being the most important consideration, regularly exercising the brain and memory in this way can stave off age-related memory impairments.
Although a commitment is necessary with regards to time, brain training has a number of benefits associated with it which could pay huge dividends as regards educational and job performance, as well as general wellbeing for people of all ages. The challenge element of brain training programmes can make it both worthwhile, enjoyable so it would be well worth incorporating this type of mental exercise into an existing wellbeing regime.