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New Study Suggests an Easy Method To Get a Better Memory

 Scientists may have discovered a new way of training and improving our memory and it's nothing like you might expect. It doesn't require you to write in journals, solve sudoku or crossword puzzles or exercise, it does require, however, for you to try new things and hope for the best, and this theory is based on a chemical found in your brain called dopamine. What do we mean? To find out more about this method, just continue reading.
dopamine and memory formation brain

What is dopamine and why is it important for my memory?

Neurotransmitters are the on and off switches of our brain, and the more scientists learn about then, the better we understand how our brains work and what causes anything from forgetfulness to neurological problems to mental illness. One of the 'lead actors' in our brains is dopamine, a neurotransmitter produced in our brains that has been time and time again linked to motivation and anticipation, as its levels increase when you expect a reward, making you feel bliss and joy.
Like when you're trying hard to open a jar of pickles, and then, after countless struggles with the lid, you finally succeed and get a crunchy pickle that you could swear somehow tastes much better than an ordinary pickle.
Low levels of dopamine, on the other hand, have been time and time linked to mental illness and depression, with many treatments working towards increasing the levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain. Okay, but what about memories, how does dopamine influence those?
Research links the formation of episodic memories with high dopamine levels, so the lack of this hormone in the brain may be the culprit behind bad memory and even memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia. And though there are medical treatments that can increase the amount of dopamine in the brain, scientists are currently looking into games and other less invasive treatments that train your memory by increasing your dopamine levels. We will discuss one of such treatments below.

A recent study at Brown University showed how an unexpected reward in a computer game caused the formation of memories.

dopamine and memory formation games

In this study, the researchers hypothesized that an unexpected big win in the game will make them remember pictures better, as it is known that dopamine levels rise the most in the presence of unexpected results. The more surprising and thrilling the victory, the believed, the more likely a person should be able to remember something.

To test how well the participants remembered the pictures, they asked almost 300 participants to select the pictures secretly associated with a reward from a selection of similar pictures. They tested them twice, first 5 minutes after the game, and then once more 24 hours later to see if the memories were lasting.

The study found that, indeed, the participants managed to form more vivid memories when they’ve seen an unexpected good outcome, and the higher the risk of failure, the more likely were the participants to remember. The researchers believe that this game can train the players’ memory and make it better long term, and they plan to test if people with mental or physical conditions associated with low production of dopamine will behave the same way healthy participants do.

In the meantime, it might be useful for you to know that you don’t have to actually play this specific game to improve your memory. Any unexpected positive reward, like finding a new favorite coffee shop, accidentally stumbling upon a friend while grocery shopping, or even winning in a card game you just learned will all improve your memory and make you remember seemingly ordinary events more vividly and fondly.

Most definitely, this research motivates us to try new things, visit new places and surprise yourself and others more often. What a beautiful and inspiring message, don’t you agree?

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