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Lawyers are what they remember, so here are three tips for how to improve your memory

Mark Gluck, a PhD researcher on memory, gave a fascinating lecture a few nights ago. As I am riveted by how our brains work and what enhances their operation, I will share three of the points he made about sleep, stress, and exercise.

Point one is that sleep helps us remember since during it our brain collates, organizes and imprints perceptions. While we snooze, the brain makes sense of and stores our memories. During rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, the brain releases acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which enables these processes. Cholinesterase, by the way, blocks the release of acetylcholine. Gluck said that “even a short nap can improve memory retention” (See my post of Aug. 26, 2008: concerns about sleep-deprived associates.)

Point two is that stress gums up memory. One reason is that when we experience stress, our brains release cortisol, a hormone that stops neuron growth. Over time, highly-stressed people damage their brains (See my post of June 11, 2008: stress with 18 references.)!

Gluck’s third point is that aerobic exercise, even modest amounts, does wonders for keeping one’s memory sharp and broad. He lists six ways that breaking a sweat helps us learn and retain what we learn (See my post of Feb. 25, 2008: exercise and the brain; April 16, 2007: corporate health centers; Nov. 6, 2007: energy; May 2, 2008: exercise improves the mind; and Nov. 23, 2008: thermogenesis *4.).

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