The Memory Game; Memory Issues Are Not Just for the Older Generations, They Can Affect All of Us. Here MICHELE O'CONNOR Receives Some Helpful Tips from Dr Joanna Iddon

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MOST of us can lose our train of thought midway through a sentence but when you're a stand-up comic, it can spell disaster - as comedian Billy Connolly knows.

The 70-year-old Scot has admitted he suffers from worrying bouts of memory loss on stage and sometimes cannot remember his punch lines for gags.

But absent-mindedness is not just about "senior moments", says neuropsychologist Dr Joanna Iddon, co-author of Memory Boosters (Hamlyn Press, PS6.99).

"In a recent study of healthy adults, the average number of memory slips, like putting the coffee jar in the fridge, was around six per week, irrespective of age, gender and intelligence," says Dr Iddon.

"In fact, it was the younger, busier people that were the most absent-minded.

"Remembering is an active process and making the most of your memory involves paying better attention, planning and organising."

Luckily, there are some tricks and strategies to help you banish those thingumabob moments.

ASSOCIATE THE MEMORY WITH THE ENVIRONMENT So if, for example, a joke is learned in the presence of a particular smell, that same aroma may cue the memory for that joke.

"More simply, when in an exam, I advise my students to visualise the place in which they were revising as a cue to memory," says Andrew Johnson, memory specialist and lecturer in psychology at Bournemouth University.

CLENCH YOUR FIST Research suggests that balling up your right hand and squeezing it tightly actually makes it easier to memorise phone numbers or shopping lists. Later, when you want to retrieve the information, clench the left fist.

LEARN SOMETHING BEFORE BED "The best way to 'consolidate a memory' is to go through the information just before of going to sleep," explains Dr Johnson. "This is because there are fewer 'new' interfering memories so you will remember it better the next day."

DRINK MORE MILK Scientists asked 972 people to fill in detailed surveys on their diets and to complete eight rigorous tests to check their concentration, memory and learning abilities. Adults who consumed dairy products at least five or six times a week did far better in memory tests compared with those who rarely ate or drank them.

EXERCISE MORE Several studies have shown that aerobic exercise improves cognitive function and is particularly good at enhancing memory. …


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