Six Ways to Learn Something New | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 20 December 2012 16:26

122012sen1

BY MARK UNDERWOOD

Special to the Times

As millions of people move into middle age and grow older, many experience age-related changes like forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, or memory lapses such as misplacing their car keys from time to time.

Some people work on improving their brain power by learning something new, for example: taking a class, working on difficult crossword puzzles or learning to play a musical instrument that requires concentration and focus.

Many people are looking for brand-new strategies to help them improve their ability to learn and remember what they just learned. Here are six exercises you can do to help boost your ability to learn and remember.

• Pay sharp attention to what you want to remember. You can’t remember something new if you’re multi-tasking and are distracted.

• Write down what you’ve learned. If you write it, either by typing or longhand, it may help imprint the information on your brain.

• Involve the senses. Try to relate the information you’re trying to remember to tastes, smells, colors and textures. If you’re a visual learner, this may help lock in that new bit of information in your brain.

• Make up your own acronyms. When you’re memorizing a list of information like the names of all the Great Lakes, try memorizing them with a single word like “HOMES.” That word connects the first letter of each lake’s name: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior into one word that may help you remember each lake’s name.

• Review the information after you learn it. Instead of cramming to learn new information, review it the same day you learn it but leave time between remembering it and reviewing it.

• Work on understanding basic ideas first. If you’re trying to memorize complex information, concentrate on the bigger ideas first then focus on the details later.

Mark Underwood is a neuroscience researcher and president of Quincy Bioscience, a biotech company in Madison, Wisconsin.

CAPTION: Learning to play a musical instrument can improve your brain power.

 

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