Concentration -- or attention -- and memory are two crucial mental skills and are directly related. In fact, many memory complaints have nothing to do with the actual ability to remember things: They come from a failure to focus properly on the task at hand.
For example, when you don't remember where you parked your car at the mall. It is likely that you did not pay much attention to where you parked the car in the first place, since you were thinking about what you were going to buy... thus leaving your brain with little opportunity to process any information that could be recalled later to help you find your car.
Another example: Not remembering where we put our glasses...
Focusing attention is effortful. And as we age it often gets harder and harder to concentrate. But focusing our attention on the task at hand is key for better memory performance... so what can we do to improve concentration AND memory?
The first general solution is to optimize our brain health and performance by adhering to the main pillars of brain fitness: balanced diet, physical exercise, cognitive stimulation, stress management, and social engagement. That will help improve a range of cognitive functions, including concentration and memory, and to maintain them in good shape over time.
Additionally, you can try these specific tips.
Tips to improve concentration
- Practice meditation. Multiple studies have shown that meditation can be a good brain training tool to improve attentional/ concentration skills.
Tips to improve memory
- Start by improving concentration
Putting it all together: Tips to better remember names
Yes, we all forget names, and often in the few seconds after we hear them. Most of the time this phenomenon is due to a lack of attention or concentration. Also, most names have no specific meaning and are thus hard to memorize.
Say you are introduced to Kim today:
- Pay attention to the name: Ask Kim to repeat her name if you have not heard it very well. Make a conscious effort of trying to memorize the name: Focus on it ("Her name is Kim. I want to remember it.")
Hope this helps! Have a Happy, Healthy and Sharp 2016!
And, here are a few brain teasers for some added cognitive stimulation if you want...