Your Brain’s Ability – Use It or Lose It

In the Times last week there was a very interesting piece on how machines are once doing the work that our memories once did.  If you think about telephone numbers, how often do you think about a number to dial it?  Chances are, you will open up the address book on your mobile phone, look for the name and press the green button to dial.

So here is an interesting question for you – if you lost your phone and you found yourself in the middle of nowhere (but near a phone) would you be able to remember a useful number to call someone to come and help you if you needed it?

So many people are relying on artificial means of storing information that we used to use our memories for that the mind is becoming a flabby muscle in comparison to what it is actually capable of.

It is true, you use it or lose it.  I can relate to that entirely.  When I competed and came second in the World Memory Championships a few years ago I was able to memorise 9 complete packs of cards, a 752 digit number and 966 binary digits amongst other things.  I had trained my memory to be able to do that and practiced for months to get to that level (something that you could do too if you so desired).

Now a few years on, I can still memorise cards and numbers (and just about anything that I want to) but I couldn’t do it at the same intensity without going through all that practice again.  I would have to exercise my memory muscles to get them back to the same peak state they were.

Now if you are not using your memory as much as you could, it will fade and become “flabby”.  If you read what some of the experts are saying about things you can do to delay or prevent diseases like Alzheimers and Dementia then keeping an active mind is one of them.

The brain is a very adaptable and plastic mechanism in that it can compensate for areas that aren’t working as well because of some problem.  But just like it is much easier for a very fit person to recover from an injury, it is much easier for a stimulated and exercised brain to compensate for any deficiencies.

So the moral of this post is to exercise your mind and your memory as often as you can.  The more mental stimulation you can get the better it will function and the hardier it will be if faced with any challenges in the future.