Mind-Sharpening Techniques

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Neuroscientist Michael Merzenich of the University of California at San Francisco refers to the brains as "a learning machine." As human beings age, however, these "learning machines" become slower and less agile than in their younger years. Memories become less infallible and both new and old data is harder to recall. However, you can sharpen your memory at any age with various mind-sharpening techniques.

1 Mathematical Puzzles

Mathematical puzzles keep the brain sharp and agile, especially if you do not use mathematics in your daily job, as your brain will treat it as a refreshing challenge. For example, the website Smtechnet.com has mathematical puzzles that test your knowledge of math, logic and numbers. The puzzles require you to use the information given in each puzzle and your knowledge of math to solve the problems. Stumped players can always click on the "Solution" link to see how to best solve the problem.

2 Engage Your Focus

You don't need to purchase sophisticated software to sharpen your mind. According to Merzenich, "Anything that closely engages your focus and is strongly rewarding" will kick your brain into learning mode. For example, you can achieve this just by taking up a new hobby such as ping-pong or embroidery, learning a foreign language or trying a musical instrument. You need an activity that will cause you to concentrate, but that you will also enjoy.

3 Visualization

Instead of looking lazily around your house, challenge your brain to remember where everything is. With your eyes shut, stand by your front door facing toward your house and try to walk to your couch, slowly and carefully, without knocking everything over. This activity will force your brain to picture where everything is and thus avoid it. Or shut your eyes in the shower and try to visualize where the soap or bottle of shampoo is. These basic exercises will truly flex your brain's memory and make you more aware of things spatially.

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."