Vitamins for memory - think positive about ageing
In a way the words ‘generous’, ‘independence’ and ‘interesting’ are vitamins for memory.
Can some words inhibit memory, while others boost retention?
To answer this question, Thomas Hess and his colleagues of North Carolina State University came up with an experiment. Participants had to make word-sorting puzzles. Half of the participants had – unbeknown to them – negative words linked to aging slipped in their puzzles – like brittle, complaining, confused, cranky, dependent, depressed, feeble, forgot, fragile, grumpy, incompetent, inflexible, lonely, rigid, sedentary, senile, sickly, slowly, stubborn and tired.
- Just reading these negative stereotypes could push your mood straight into a depression, but hang on, it will get better in the next sentence.
The other subjects had positive words in their puzzles like accomplished, active, alert, dignified, distinguished, experience, generous, independence, insightful, interesting, kindness, knowledgeable, loving, patience, pride, respected, sociable, successful, understanding and wise.
- Feeling a bit better?
After the subjects had made the puzzles, they were asked how many words they remembered. Not surprisingly, young subjects (between 19 and 30) outperformed older subjects (from 62 to 84). Also, positive or negative words related to aging had no effect on the performance of these youngsters (they remembered about 63 percent of the words).
However, in the group with older subjects an interesting effect occurred. Older people primed with positive words remembered 53 percent of the words, while their retention of the words dropped to 40 percent when they were unconsciously exposed to the negative words.
Interestingly, some older subjects were less vulnerable to the negative stereotypes. That is, their retention did not drop after implicit exposure to the negative words. Why? Because their unconscious attitudes to aging were less negative. In other words, they did not connect the negative words about aging to bad memory.
- Try to start thinking positive about aging. This will boost your memory performance. Another trick is to read the following vitamins for memory: accomplished, active, alert, dignified, distinguished, experience, generous, independence, insightful, interesting, kindness, knowledgeable, loving, patience, pride, respected, sociable, successful, understanding and wise.
Research on these vitamins for memory:
Hess, T.M., Hinson, J.T., & Statham, J.A. (2004). Explicit and Implicit Stereotype Activation Effects on Memory: Do Age and Awareness Moderate the Impact of Priming?Psychology and Aging, 19, 495-505.