You rely on your car, so you take it in for regular service and try to keep it in top working order by checking the tire pressure, topping up the coolant, etc. Considering that your brain is even more vital to your well-being than your car, shouldn't you show it the same respect?
Science shows that there are simple but unexpected behavior changes and practices that can help keep your brain functioning at its best. PsyBlog rounded up a handful of recent studies on the subject, including these.
1. 40 seconds is enough to cement a memory.
Looking to get better at remembering new facts, faces, and names? Spending just 40 seconds mentally replaying new information seems to be enough to make it stick in your brain.
That's the conclusion of a recent study that asked subjects to try to recall YouTube clips. Those that spent 40 seconds replaying the clips (either mentally or out loud) had vastly better recall weeks later. "The findings have implications for any situation where accurate recall of an event is critical, such as witnessing an accident or crime. Memory for the event will be significantly improved if the witness rehearses the sequence of events as soon as possible afterwards," commented lead researcher Chris Bird.
2. Stop snacking late at night.
OK, this study was on mice, not people, so more research is clearly needed, but as you probably shouldn't be downing chocolate bars late at night anyway, it's probably a good idea to heed these preliminary results.
"We have provided the first evidence that taking regular meals at the wrong time of day has far-reaching effects for learning and memory," said lead author Dawn Loh. "Since many people find themselves working or playing during times when they'd normally be asleep, it is important to know that this could dull some of the functions of the brain."
3. Eat more veggies (and drink your hot cocoa?).
While we're talking about diet, here's another sensible tip that has an unexpected effect on your brain. If you're older, eating your veggies isn't just a great way to get your vitamins; it can also significantly slow memory decline, according to recent research. Mom, it appears, was right yet again.
The study of 3,718 retirement age folks living in Chicago found that "compared to people who consumed less than one serving of vegetables a day, people who ate at least 2.8 servings of vegetables a day saw their rate of cognitive change slow by roughly 40 percent. This decrease is equivalent to about five years of younger age," reports PsyBlog. More surprisingly, hot chocolate has also been linked to slower cognitive decline among seniors.