How reminiscing and being tech-savvy can sharpen your brain

Posted in: Wellbeing Last updated: 29 Aug 2014

Did you know that there are more connections in your brain then there are stars in the universe? Despite us all being proud owners of the most complex organ in the entire world, everyone can lose their train of thought now and again. For some people this can spell disaster – take 76 year-old actor Jack Nicholson, it’s been rumoured that he retired from the big screen due to memory loss, after struggling to remember his lines for scripts. Whilst there’s no way around the fact our memory fades as we get older, research-tested methods suggest that certain habits can help.


Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses loved to share stories about the war with Del Boy and Rodney and he was right to do so. Reminiscing on old tales and swapping stories can wake up parts of your brain that have been lying dormant, according to researchers from Exeter University. A study which involved groups of older people reminiscing about their youth (including wartime experiences) saw significant improvements in memory.

Surfing the web and sending emails

Brazilian scientists have proven that being IT literate can give your brain a good work out. Surfing the internet and sending emails can prevent memory loss in the elderly, and it may also be helping in the fight against dementia in Britain. An eight year study of almost 6,500 Britons aged from 50 to 90 found that the brains of those who regularly go online are declining more slowly than those who do not.


Along with a whole string of benefits reading brings, being a bookworm can help to boost your brain power. A study undertaken by the Rush University Medical Centre found that reading at any time of life could help preserve your memory into old age. It’s thought that any kind of activity that triggers mental stimulation can stave off cognitive decline.

Drinking less alcohol

Lots of us like to unwind from a hard day by indulging in a few beverages, but a few too many swigs of alcohol could see you paying the price later on in life. A recent study found that middle-aged men who drink more than two and a half drinks per day will experience memory loss and cognitive problems up to six years sooner than those who drink more moderately.


A case of the giggles may help to keep your memory intact – researchers at the Loma Linda University found that laughter puts the mind into a true meditative state, minimising the damage that stress hormones cause. The rule is simple – the less stress you have the better your memory is likely to be.


Evidence suggests that working out can sharpen our minds. A study conducted by the University of Texas-Dallas found older exercisers saw improvements in memory and cognition, in as little as six weeks after starting an exercise regime. Improvements were recognised even for those who had sedentary lifestyles.


Researchers at Plymouth University found that when carrying out memory tests, doodlers performed 29% better than non-doodlers when asked to recall names and places. According to experts, doodling doesn’t tax the mind and it actually stops us from daydreaming so we can concentrate on the task at hand.

As well as monitoring your habits, there are plenty of tricks that can help to banish those ‘thingy me bob’ moments – check out our article Simple memory tips and tricks for over 50s.

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