Mind Improvements


"One of the reasons we forget things is that we don\'t really pay attention," Small notes. "Multitasking isn\'t good for the memory – there is only so much a brain can handle." To correct the problem, Small teaches the "Look, Snap, Connect" technique, which goes like this:

Look: Actively observe what you want to learn. For example, say you need to run errands. Pay attention as you make your list: Pick up stamps, milk, and dog food.

Snap: Create a vivid mental snapshot and memorable image. To remember your list, visualize a post office, a milkman, and a dog.

Connect: Link the images visually. Picture the milkman going to the post office while walking the dog, and your to-do list gets locked in your brain.

Create reminders.

Writing things down, making lists, and keeping a date book or planner can all improve your memory. Establishing daily patterns, like always putting your keys in the same place when you come home, will help you remember the locations of commonly misplaced items.

Train your brain.

What would a boot camp be without rigorous physical activities designed to strengthen and tone? Try out a couple of these puzzles from Small\'s book:

A. A woman marries 11 men in the space of 10 years. She divorces none of them, none of them die, and she has not committed any crime. How is this possible?

B. Shirley has idiosyncratic tastes. She loves weeds but despises flowers. She adores confetti but hates party decorations. She likes feet but dislikes hands. Based on her preference pattern, would she prefer sitting or standing?

Did you figure them out? Click here for the answers.

Keep learning

"Do things you enjoy that fire up your mind," Small urges. Taking on a new hobby, learning how to play a musical instrument, and even changing the types of books you read can all help keep you mentally sharp.

The four main features that distinguished these periods were:

Daytime drowsiness despite getting enough sleep the night before

Falling asleep two or more hours during the day

Staring into space for long periods of time

Episodes of disorganized or nonsensical speech

Bugstunt: Here\'s a trick that\'s guaranteed to wow your camping buddies: Listen for a cricket, count the number of chirps the insect makes in 15 seconds, then add 40, and -- voilà! -- you\'ve got the ambient temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.

Sir, I send a rhyme excelling / In sacred truth and rigid spelling / Numerical sprites elucidate / For me the lexicon\'s dull weight

Encoded in second-rate poetry: the transcendental number pi to 20 places. Just count the number of letters in each word: three, one, four, one, five, nine ...

"30,000 genes can\'t be enough to generate the complexity of a human being."

Before the Human Genome Project published maps of the human genome in early 2001, researchers expected that the full complement of human DNA would contain as many as 100,000 genes. The surprise figure -- roughly 30,000 -- means that humans possess only slightly more genes than the lowly wall cress plant (25,000).