There are ways other than memory training for exercising your brain. Just as a child acquires knowledge by trying new things, an older person’s memory can be challenged and further encouraged. Every new impression and experience provides impulses that extend the brain’s neural network and thereby open further opportunities for accessing memory.

Focusing Your Perceptions

Try performing an everyday task blindfolded to focus your perception exclusively on what you are doing at that moment. For example, the next time you do the dishes, wash them with your eyes closed (sort out the knives beforehand and put them to one side). Another good exercise is to blindfold yourself and try walking around your home, finding your way by touch. You might also try eating while blindfolded or with earplugs in. Many families or couples have an unspoken seating arrangement at the dinner table, change this from time to time. When you’re waiting for the train or sitting on the bus, close your eyes and pay attention to the sounds around you; you’ll be surprised how much you hear. These sorts of sensory impressions are very important for incorporation in memory techniques.


Juggling is an activity that involves a sequence of movements requiring the active participation for both halves of the brain. This is why many participants in memory competitions juggle during breaks. From time to time, try juggling during your memory training. It’s fun, it stimulates your entire brain, and it relaxes both your body and your mind.


To test your reactions, you can play card games like the one I used to like called snap. All you need is one other person and two complete decks of cards. Each person takes a deck and shuffles. At the command “Go,” both players begin to turn over their cards at a steady rate (about a second apart) and lay them down face up. If the cards are the same value—such as two jacks or two tens, regardless of suit—the players have to say, “Snap” as quickly as possible. Th e one who says it first gets the cards that have been turned over up to that point. Once you’re through the deck once, reshuffle whatever cards you have and repeat until one player has all the cards. The player who ends up with all the cards wins.

You can also play games to sharpen your perception of linguistic connections. When my brother and I were little, my mother used to play a game with us in which she would make several words out of one. It’s best when played with several people, but you can play it on your own if necessary. It works like this, Choose a long word, such as disestablishmentarianism. Each player has ten minutes to form new words using the letters from the original. The new terms should be as unusual as possible. After ten minutes, everyone reads out the words they have come up with. If more than one person has written the same word, that word is removed from the lists. In the end, the only words that count are those that only one person has found; each word left on a player’s list earns 1 point. How long you play this creative little game is entirely up to you. For example, you could end the game when someone reaches a total score of 30 points.

Here are a few more words you can use as starting points for this game, chandelier, dramatization, globalization, and incommensurate. Initially, all the words should have ten to fifteen letters and as many vowels (at least three) as possible, as well as some important consonants.