Want to Improve Your Memory?

A Decade-Long Stanford Study Suggests You Should Stop Doing This 1 Thing

Researchers find that spending less time multitasking may be the key to improving cognitive performance and memory.

By Nate KlempCo-founder, Life Cross Training (Life XT)@drnateklemp

Do you ever have trouble keeping track of all the things racing through your mind? Do you ever feel like your life would fall apart without to-do lists, calendars, and constant reminders?

Most of us believe the subtle shifts in memory we experience are the result of aging. The older we get, we think, the harder we have to work to encode new memories. 

Researchers at the Stanford Memory Lab, however, found that aging isn’t the only factor that diminishes what psychologists call “working memory”: our ability to process and store information. Another key factor is the amount of time we spend multitasking.

In the modern attention economy, we’re all guilty of this habit. We all have moments where we’re on a conference call while texting, emailing, and sneaking an occasional peak at the news or social media. When this becomes a way of life, however, multitasking can begin to diminish cognitive performance and memory.

After examining over a decade of data, these Stanford researchers found that “heavy” multitaskers significantly underperformed “light” multitaskers on tasks that required working memory and sustained attention.

Multitasking, in other words, went hand-in-hand with a diminished ability to process memories and sustain a single point of focus.
Why does the amount of time we spend multitasking have such a negative impact on memory?

Stanford psychologist Anthony Wagner theorizes that “reduced working memory occurs in heavy media multitaskers because they have a higher probability of experiencing lapses of attention.”  The more time you spend watching TV while emailing and surfing social media, in other words, the more difficult it becomes to sustain your attention.

Instead of building concentration, multitasking reinforces the mindset that psychologist Linda Stone famously calls “continuous partial attention.” It turns this scattered state of attention into a habit.
So how can we reverse the damaging impact of multitasking on memory? Here are a few strategies:

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Build ‘no multitasking zones’ into your day.
The most basic way to counter the momentum of multitasking is to block your calendar for periods of full engagement on the task at hand. Close all the windows on your computer.  

Put your phone on airplane mode if you have to. Do whatever you need to do to silence the continuous distractions of the attention economy, so you can focus on a single task at a time.
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Notice when you crave mental stimulation.
It’s no accident that so many of us struggle to kick this habit of multitasking. As Adam Alter notes in Irresistible, many of the technologies we use have been designed to create a kind of “behavioral addiction” to continuous digital stimulation. We’re drawn to that dopamine-induced hit of pleasure that results from pulling out our phone, reading the news, or scanning our Facebook newsfeed.  

As a result, multitasking through over-consuming digital media is easy. Blocking out these distractions to focus is hard. That’s where awareness becomes crucial. Notice each time you feel drawn to this base form of informational pleasure. Then see what happens when you resist, when you look at the sky for a minute rather than looking at your phone.

Multitasking is to the brain as junk food is to the body. It’s the thing we crave that’s keeping us from feeling our best. Mindfulness is to the brain as physical exercise is to the body. It’s the daily practice that helps us build greater mental strength and endurance.

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So if you haven’t started some sort of practice already, try meditating for five or more minutes each day. And if you can’t do that, try using your walk from your car or from the train station to work as a time to bring your full attention to the sights and sounds around you.
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Donald Hebb, an early jneuroscientist, noted the core problem and opportunity at the heart of this modern predicament: “neurons that fire together, wire together.” When we multitask, we’re firing the neural pathways of distraction and diminished memory over and over again. Eventually, these neurons that fire together, wire together.
When we break this habit, however, we’re firing new, more productive neural pathways. 
We’re wiring together mental habits that allow us to achieve deeper levels of focus and heightened levels of memory processing and recall. In short, we’re smarter when we just do one thing at a time.

Day two

The air is fresh as a morning dew
The birds are singing
The clouds are perfect white
And she is coming in all blue

We are going toward a distance park
She is sad, full of stories of hardship
Full of responsibilities
But she is so beautiful

Are arrive at the park
I talk about my magnolias
Left and right
And how I think I neglected left

We talk and talk
I ask her for perfect triangle
She responds without hesitation
I discover the perfect pattern

The lines and circles are awaiting my touch
It is only us and trees surrounding us
The ray of lights coming through leafs
And birds singing in the distance

She comes forward
I can taste the warmth and honey
We are merging in each other
I do not want to stop

She is now moving upward
Toward the blue sky
Calling my name softly
Breathing faster and faster

Reaching for my pleasure spot
I am now flying towards her
Want to merge with my shiva
Suddenly we come to a stop

She says let’s pause or stop
Let’s go for a walk
We walk in the beautiful garden
Full of trees and bushes

I started to discover the curves
They are so perfect
With a line dividing them
I tell her about my dream

She smiles and say why not
I talk about that one day
I might ask for a dance
She nodes in agreement

I talk about my elaborate plan
How to do a and b and c
She looks at me and say
Just text me and I will come

I feel she will say yes now
but i do not ask
My option B is near by
In excitement I miss restaurant twice
But i do not ask – I want her to want

We talk and talk
We talk about future
Path full of color
And infinite happinesses

I am so happy
She is mine
She is mine
And I love her so much

Day one

She says five, four thirty and four
I am in rush to be there on time
She walks like an angel
With such a beautiful smile

Yellow, orange and black
Covered the beautiful
Creamy color of softness
She seems too far from me

So absorbed in the beauty of the eyes
Covered by the round frame
And counting the leafs on the ring
Missed a big red signed

But now I now it is size six and half
Drove and drove
The usual path to the trees high
Parked in front of same broken tree

Slowly moved toward the heat
The softness of the path to apex
Is like the calm lake with no wave
But once it has been reached it is incredible

Talked about 15, 30 and 60 degree
And agreed that the optimum is 60
We are talking and talking
The sun is moving downward

I move behind the tight curtain
Now I realized the cause of my
Sensational memory relapse last time
But this time I can touch the source

I recall a beautiful table cover
With small white circular pattern
I used to touch the smoothness of the table
By moving my finger in circular motion

I can go lower and reach the source of heat
Curtain upon curtain
I can imagine the red color
I can sense her pleasure

We have stopped talking
Just me and her and the sun
And she is moving toward sky
I can sense that she wants to fly

I am constrained by the maximum
Of the elasticity of fabric
But have reached the circle of desire
Like shiva she is dancing

After few minutes
Hard breading
She calms down
The the gate to heaven is closed