Multitasking May be the Key to Effective Memory Retention

Megan Ray  |  January 8, 2014

Findings from new studies on memory loss have suggested strategies for improving mental retention that may not have been previously considered. According to the research, beneficial multitasking activities can present themselves in the most surprising places.

"In the future, your doctor may prescribe you a video game," reported The Wall Street Journal.

Productive gaming
Playing video games, although often associated with teenagers, may help prevent memory loss, according to a new study from international science journal Nature. Maria Carrillo, vice president at the Alzheimer's Association in Chicago, suggested that video games offer a modern alternative to activities with similar benefits, such as Sudoku or crossword puzzles, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Challenging yourself with new situations is needed for maintaining your brain," Carrillo said. "The healthier our brain is, the more we can withstand cognitive aging."

Scientists responsible for the study focused on how complicated situations posed in video games may help exercise players' brains. Games with objectives that require players to multitask may provide the stimulus essential to rebuilding mental abilities that diminish with age. The study noted improvement among older patients over a short period of time, and senior citizen participants who trained on the game used in the research project for 12 hours often beat first-time players of the game who were in their 20s.

In response to the study's results, video game companies like Nintendo are developing games with senior citizens' and baby boomers' interests in mind, such as racing and puzzle-based games.

Draw it out
For people interested in non-tech alternatives for potential memory boosts, CNN suggested drawing or, more specifically, doodling. According to the source, a 2009 study researched the benefits of drawing while listening to information. The study found that, contrary to assumptions that doodling distracted listeners, drawing may actually help individuals focus by diminishing the potential to daydream. 

Self-professed "doodling evangelist" Sunni Brown continued research to pinpoint reasons why drawing may aid concentration. Like advocates of the video game study, she believes that doodling's multitasking aspect makes it particularly effective as a means of improving memory.

"Doodling absolutely influences and aids concentration as well as elevating information retention since it allows people to bring what's happening right now into a more saturated and sensory experience," she explained.

Brown added that what doodlers draw is key to determining how it helps aid concentration, suggesting that the listener should sketch out visual representations of the ideas and themes that they hear, or "infodoodles."  

"[The doodler] is connecting neurological pathways with otherwise disassociated pathways in the brain, making spontaneous marks with [the] body to help [the] mind access insights," Brown said.

Alzheimer's & Memory Care Categories:

Join Our Newsletter