How often do you get annoyed when your memory doesn’t work the way you want it to? What affects memory? Why can’t you remember where you put your keys or glasses when you’re running late for an appointment, yet you always know where to find a piece of chocolate? Why can’t you remember the name of the new colleague you just met yesterday, but you can immediately recall the name of your favorite singer or actor? Why do you remember certain things that a speaker says yet forget other parts of the same lecture? What determines the things you remember or forget?

We hardly give any thought to the wonderful, high- performance tool we carry around in our head—our brain. We often take for granted that our brain registers, saves, allocates, and coordinates all the signals from our nervous system and, in doing so, provides us with a massive range of skills.

Since ancient Greece, humans have tried to understand how the brain works. But only as recently as the end of the eighteenth century did the German doctor, Franz Joseph Gall map each human action to a part of the brain, showing the connections in a diagram. Since then, science has made great progress. Above all, the various technical methods by which the workings of the brain can be illustrated have made a large contribution to our understanding. Nevertheless, many questions about the physiological processes of the brain and the workings of neural networks have yet to be answered. Th e cerebrum consists of far more than 100 billion brain cells. Th e number of possible biochemical processes is inconceivably large. The fact that 100,000 to 1 million biochemical reactions occur each minute to maintain vital functions gives you some idea of the brain’s capabilities.

Given the large number of brain cells, the thought that more than a thousand of these cells die each day shouldn’t worry you, since this figure is more or less insignificant compared to the overall size of the brain. What’s of greater importance is knowing that the brain is able to form new cells again and again by activating and exercising its neural networks. Consequently, in certain circumstances, specific areas of the brain can take over the functions of other areas, such as when a person becomes blind. In this case, the area of the brain associated with sight is no longer used for seeing, so it assists the sense of touch.

The objective of memory training is not simply to improve memory, but also to activate a number of other associated areas of the brain. Th e result is enhanced performance and a greater ability to absorb a large volume of information and transform it into knowledge. Clearly a person’s intellectual development is controlled by genetics on one hand, but on the other hand, it is also influenced by the stimulation of sensory perception. Therefore, as long as you are not ill, you can improve your memory throughout your life by training it—along with all of the senses associated with it—in the same way that you exercise and build the muscles of your body. It is never too late to begin memory training.

People who are mentally active and productive are able to maintain and hone their intellectual skills well into their later years. Since life expectancy is longer than ever before, it is comforting to be able to look forward to aging and know that you have the ability to keep your brain active using memory exercises.

Another benefit of memory training that shouldn’t be underestimated is the ability to measure improvement objectively, which is generally difficult to do with mental performance. You may also be astonished to learn that, with some memory exercises, it is easy to improve your memory by 100 percent or more with relatively
little effort.

To optimize your memory power, it’s important to exercise, so that you provide your brain with oxygen and get your circulation going. It’s also important to make sure that you eat properly and, above all, drink enough fluids.