Studying 101

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Whether you’ve been studying for weeks or are just starting to cram, everyone’s memory can use a boost. Here are some tips to help improve memory as finals get closer.

Stay active
Whether it’s biking on the Lakeshore Path or taking a walk around campus, get moving. Physical activity — specifically exercises that increase heart rate — boosts brain activity by stimulating chemicals that encourage cell and blood vessel growth in the brain, according to a 2014 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. A better night’s sleep, reduced stressed and improved long-term mental health are other perks of exercise, according to the study.

Eat better
Although a chocolate chip muffin from Connections Café is tempting during those late nights in the library, sugar and grain carbohydrates are two of the worst foods for improving memory. Instead, grab a veggie cup with broccoli or trail mix with walnuts and sunflower seeds — both choices promote better memory, according to a study from Harvard Medical School and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Need a break from the library? Head down Devon Avenue and grab some curry. The main spice in curry — turmeric — contains the antioxidant curcumin, which is another ingredient that boosts brain cell growth.

Sleep more
Start rethinking those all-nighters. German researchers at the University of Lubeck found that sleep helps move information from short-term memory to long-term memory — making a good night’s sleep after studying critical. However, sleep before studying is important, too. Sleep deprivation inhibits the brain’s ability to process new information, according to another study by Harvard Medical School.

Chew gum
Simply chewing on a piece of gum during a test can improve memory by 35 percent, according to research from the University of Northumbria. How does it work? Chewing increases the average number of heartbeats per minute by three, which is just enough to improve blood flow in the brain. Chewing the same flavor of gum while studying and during the test can help create an association between the taste and information, which also benefits memory recall.

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