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Maximize Your Memory: Tips To Improving Memory

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Who hasn't forgotten someone's name, misplaced their keys, or walked into a room and forgotten why they entered?

Over the past year, studies have shown that there are ways to remember things better.

CBS 2's Mary Kay Kleist reports on some simple changes we can all make to maximize our memory.

Holly Ramsburg is a busy mother.

"Whether it's appointments, stuff for school, one day I forgot the lunch; you know, 'cause there's 87 things going on," she said.

Ramsburg is like a lot of other people who find it hard to remember things like phone numbers, people's names, passwords.

"I wish I were a list person, 'cause I think that would help, but it's very easy to forget things," she said.

Experts say, to remember passwords, use the name of something that you feel emotional about.

Dr. Duke Han, an assistant professor of clinical neuropsychology with Rush University Medical Center, said, "The region in the brain that processes emotion is right next to the region of the brain that processes memory. And so, if one is active, the other one is thought to be also active as well."

Han also discussed the importance of staying active with cardiovascular fitness. Staying active increases blood flow to the brain.

Other tips include lifting weights with your eyes closed. That forces the brain to work harder and make new connections.

Studies show chewing gum improves performance on memory tests.

Don't forget to floss. British researchers found that gingivitis and periodontal disease were associated with worse memory.

Inhale fresh flowers to ease memory-zapping stress, but be careful you don't unwind too much. Doctors say a little stress is good to help you remember things.

"When someone's in that low stress place where they're not really able to take in the information because they're so relaxed, that doesn't seem to help as well," Han said.

An easy way to keep your brain in tune is to enjoy a cup of green tea, because it's rich in antioxidants.

"What antioxidants do is they help clear the brain of gunk, if you will, and help you think clearer," Han said.

Other good memory-boosting foods include sage and fish, like salmon, which is high in Omega 3's.

Puzzles and games also really help.

Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of "Marbles: The Brain Store," said that they do have repeat customers that actually see a difference in their own life after they do puzzles and memory games.

Tammy Glynn and her family spend a lot of time playing games that rely on memory. She said she remembers things better than most.

Asked about addressing her Christmas cards, Glynn said, "Last year I did email for the first time and I did almost every one by memory."

And Glynn said she sent out 125 Christmas cards last year.

A couple of other tips: first, get a good night's sleep, quality counts. Experts say deep sleep – when you dream – is crucial to your brain's ability to learn and remember. Second: If you smoke, quit. A recent study showed former smokers scored 15-percent higher on memory tests than current smokers.


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