Do you find it harder and harder to remember a person’s name after first meeting them? Or have you ever read a page from a magazine and forgotten what the writer just conveyed? If so, you’re certainly not alone, as many folks, both young and old, have experienced a memory lapse or two at some point.
The company Lumos Labs has created what it calls Lumosity, which the company says is a web based tool that improves both memory and brain function.
You might have seen the commercials already, as they’ve been airing on TV for the past few months or so, and interestingly enough, the company has started its ad campaign geared towards younger people, which is most likely a technique Lumosity is using to show that all ages could use some memory strengthening, not just seniors.
What’s slightly different about Lumosity from other memory games or techniques is that exercises aren’t just randomly slapped together by software developers or game creators. The company says the mental exercises were put together under its Scientific Advisory Board, which is supposed to be made up of experts and researchers from Stanford, and the University of California, San Francisco.
Along with the company’s team of in-house neuroscientists, the creators of Lumosity say it has made a series of brain exercises to improve overall memory and sharpen the mind’s processing speed, and uses about 30 different sessions within the drills that include games, mental exercises, and health tips for the brain.
Lumosity even gives you progress reports on how well your brain and memory are improving with each exercise.
One of the exercises uses a virtual maze filled with various hazards that users must memorize and avoid during the course of the game. This is supposed to sharpen memory, improve attention and help the mind retain things better, says the company.
Lumosity designed these games to be played on a daily basis, as opposed to just using them when you feel like giving your memory a quick jolt.
The lead scientist at Lumos Labs, Michael Scanlon, says people should be approaching mental exercises in the same way they do physical exercises, because both should be done daily and both should be taken very seriously.
“Research has shown that making brain fitness part of a healthy lifestyle early will lead to optimal cognitive performance and better long-term brain health,” said Scanlon in a written statement.
“We designed Lumosity to help adults of any age build their cognitive abilities without feeling like they’re doing homework. People have to be motivated to train, and we believe that the results we’re seeing stem in part from the fact that the program is enjoyable and you can see your progress," he said.
The company says improvements in the areas of mental processing speed, attention and retention will last for five years after doing the exercises, which is a pretty bold guarantee.
The cost of Lumosity differs depending on whether you choose a monthly or yearly subscription, but a press release the company released when introducing the website a few years back, offers the exercises for a little under $80 for one full year of unlimited access.
Researchers at the University Of Utah School Of Medicine have also studied how people can improve memory and apply that progress into their daily lives.
They first say by organizing things we have to remember, it will put less pressure on our brains to memorize information. And the best way to organize information is by first giving it some sort of meaning or easy to remember association, say the researchers.
The research group also suggests grasping entire concepts of things you want to recall before trying to remember the small details.
This really works when you’re trying to understand something new for a test you’re studying for, or when you have to tackle a new project at work. By understanding the main components of new information, it will make it much easier to grasp and remember its details when you have to, say the researchers.
Stop to reflect
The Utah research team also said we should stop to reflect upon the new things we’re learning.
Sometimes we’re so eager to grasp and apply new pieces of information-- like someone’s name or something your boss said in a meeting--that we quickly try to lock it into our minds and thought process.
But if we take just a few moments to reflect or even meditate on what we’ve just learned, it’s more likely the new information will stick, which will make it easier for us to access it whenever we have to.
Whether games like Lumosity will really improve your memory remains to be seen, and it will be interesting to see what readers say after the product and company builds and even bigger reputation for itself.
Until then, people can simply improve their mental functions by challenging their brains, by maybe reading material that forces you to learn new concepts, or pondering ideas you usually wouldn’t ponder.
Experts also say physical activity and exercise can also improve brain function, so fortunately we don’t have to buy a game or product to help us with remembering somebody’s name. There are a lot of things we can do by ourselves. We just have to do them.