Archive for the ‘improve your memory’ Category

About Memory

January 16, 2015

hippocampus1The hippocampus is the horseshoe-shaped region of the brain that is heavily associated with memory. It plays an important role in consolidating information from short-term memory into long-term memory.

The hippocampus is part of the limbic system, a system associated with emotions and long-term memories. It is involved in such complex processes as forming, organizing, and storing memories.

Functioning of the hippocampus can decline with age. By the time people reach their 80s, some of them may have lost as much as 20 percent of the nerve connections in the hippocampus.

Experts believe that we can hold approximately seven items in our short-term memory for about 20 to 30 seconds. Grouping related information into smaller “chunks can help us stretch this capacity somewhat.

In a famous paper published in 1956, psychologist George Miller suggested that the capacity of short-term memory for storing a list of items was somewhere between five and nine. Today, many memory experts believe that the true capacity of short-term memory is probably closer to the number four.

Some of the major reasons we forget things include:

  • failure to retrieve the information, which often occurs when memories are rarely accessed, causing them to decay over time
  • interference, which occurs when some memories compete with other memories
  • failing to store the information in memory in the first place
  • intentionally trying to forget things associated with a troubling or traumatic event

Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs help to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Our programs for baby boomers are designed to stimulate targeted areas of the brain to help improve skills such as memory, attention and organizational abilities.

Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Brain Exercises for Families on the Go

December 16, 2013

Keeping children occupied and happy while you are driving can be a challenge for busy parents.

Following are some suggestions for engaging the kids mentally, whether you are making the rounds in town or on an extended road trip. Obviously, it’s better and safer if some of the games are conducted by the adult who isn’t the driver.

  • Have your children write down the license plate numbers, make and model, and color of passing cars. Two or more kids can compare who has the most entries in 10 minutes.
  • Ask your children say the alphabet backwards, spell their full name (first, middle, and last) backwards, or recite the pledge of allegiance backwards.
  • Try “category” games. For example, have the kids list—in one minute—all of the colors they know. Try other categories such as breeds of dogs, words that mean red, words that mean small, etc. Make the task harder by having them clip paperclips together while listing things in a category.
  • Make several lists of common words. At first, only one word and ask your children to repeat it. Give them two words and ask them to repeat both words. Keep adding additional words until it looks like the children have reached their capacity for remembering.
  • Keep two or more identical U.S. maps in the car. Starting with your home state, give your kids directions and ask them to follow on the map. Then move to the two states to the east, west, etc. Ask them to find the capital city of the state you are traveling to.
  • Using paper and a pencil, give your children a time on the clock, such as 11:15 am. Ask them to draw that time on a traditional clock face with minute and hour hand, and then show how the same time would appear on a digital clock.  Next tell them to draw the clock as it would appear in 6 hours and thirty minutes. Draw the clock as it appeared 2 hours and 10 minutes ago.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at:

Link Between Healthy Lifestyle and Fewer Memory Complaints

July 25, 2013

While research has shown that healthy behaviors are associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, less is known about the potential link between positive lifestyle choices and milder memory complaints—especially those that occur earlier in life and could be the first indicators of later problems.

In a recent study, researchers examined the impact of lifestyle choices on memory throughout adult life, surveying participants about both their memory and their health behaviors, including whether they smoked, how much they exercised and how healthy their diet was.

As researchers expected, healthy eating, not smoking and exercising regularly were related to better self-perceived memory abilities for most adult groups. Reports of memory problems also increased with age. However, there were a few surprises.

Older adults (age 60-99) were more likely to report engaging in healthy behaviors than middle-aged (40-59) and younger adults (18-39). (For example, only 12 percent of older adults smoked, compared with 25 percent of young adults and 24 percent of middle-aged adults.) So this finding actually runs counter to the stereotype that aging is a time of dependence and decline.

In addition, while 26 percent of older adults and 22 percent of middle-aged respondents reported memory issues, it was surprising to find that a higher-than-expected 14 percent of the younger group complained about their memory too.

multitask1It’s possible that older adults may participate in more healthy behaviors because they feel the consequences of unhealthy living and take the advice of their doctors to adopt healthier lifestyles. At the same time, memory issues in younger people could be due to stress and the increase in multitasking that comes with the use of technology.

These findings reinforce the importance of educating young and middle-aged individuals to take greater responsibility for their health—including memory by practicing positive lifestyle behaviors earlier in life.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at:

Try These Mind Games for Mental Fitness

February 15, 2013

brainexercising1If, like many of us, you are a little nervous about your ability to remember things or stay focused on a project or activity, here are a few exercises you might want to try to keep your brain’s cognitive functions—memory, attention, language, visual/spatial skills and executive function—in good shape.

  • When listening to music, choose a song you don’t know and memorize the lyrics. This boosts the level of acetylcholine, the chemical that helps build your brain.
  • Shower or get dressed in the dark, or use your opposite hand to brush your teeth. These changes help build new associations between different neural connections of the brain.
  • Change your route to work or reorganize your desk. These simple changes will force your brain to wake up from habits and pay attention again.
  • Combine activities like listening to an audio book with jogging, or doing math in your head while you drive. This will force your brain to work at doing more in the same amount of time
  • Walk into a room and pick out five items and their locations. When you exit the room, try to recall all five items and where they were located. Wait two hours and try to remember those items and their locations.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at

Eating to Improve Brain Power—Part 2

December 22, 2012

With New Year’s resolution time coming up fast, now is a great time to refresh your knowledge about which foods can give you a boost in terms of brain power. Here, in Part 2 of “Eating to Improve Brain Power,” we continue our list of good bets for foods that will give you a “cognitive” edge.

Caffeine. This mild stimulant found in coffee improves mental acuity, which might explain why coffee enthusiasts guzzle 120,000 tons of the stuff each year. Also, coffee’s antioxidant richness helps maintain brain health. And some research suggests that drinking coffee can actually stave off depression in women.

Spinach. Spinach is rich in the antioxidant lutein, which is thought to help protect against cognitive decline. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who reported eating the most leafy green and cruciferous vegetables had a markedly lower rate of cognitive decline, compared to those who ate the least.

Dark Chocolate. Antioxidant-rich dark chocolate is healthy for your whole body, but its caffeine content is thought to play a role in maintaining mental acuity. Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a class of antioxidant that helps to improve blood flow (and thus brain health) by regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure.

Avocados. Avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that improve vascular health and blood flow, making them another brain food.

Water. When a person becomes dehydrated, their brain tissue actually shrinks. Studies have shown that dehydration can affect cognitive function and impair short-term memory, focus and decision making.

Wheat Germ. Wheat germ is a rich vegetarian source of choline, a nutrient involved in the body’s production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that boosts memory. Eggs are another good choline source.

Beets. Beets are a good source of naturally-occurring nitrates, which help improve blood flow to the brain.

Garlic. Garlic may help stave off some forms of brain cancer, according to research published in Cancer, the medical journal of the American Cancer Society. Investigators found that certain compounds in garlic actually worked to kill glioblastoma cells—a type of malignant tumor cell.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about Optiminds’ customized tutoring programs by calling Dr. Stewart today at (248) 496-0150 or email her at: And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at

When to Worry About Losing Your Memory

November 5, 2012

Everybody over a certain age, say, around 50, has experienced “senior moments.” You can’t locate the car keys or come up with the name of someone familiar. Or maybe you stride into a room with purpose and then forget why. You’ve probably wondered—when is a memory slip of the brain nothing to worry about, and when should it trigger a question to your doctor?

Here are some are some tips on when you should and should not worry about your memory, according to Harvard brain specialist Dr. Kirk Daffner:

Normal: Your ability to retrieve the names of friends, especially those you just met recently, is reduced or slower.

Red Flag: You consistently cannot recall the names of close friends or family.

Normal: You don’t immediately recognize somebody you meet outside of their usual context.

Red Flag: You have no recollection of having met a person you know.

Normal: You occasionally do not recall an event or conversation.

Red Flag: you consistently have no memory of events, even when others give you clues.

Normal: You occasionally make a wrong turn when you think you know where you are going.

Red Flag: You frequently get lost in familiar places.

Normal: You are sometimes slow to come up with a word you want.

Red Flag: Repeatedly, a word that was once familiar to you means nothing to you.

Source: “Senior Moments: A Sign Of Worse To Come?,’ NPR: April 11, 2011

Optiminds brain fitness programs, developed by Dr. Jane Stewart, take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Find out how Optiminds programs for seniors can help you expand your cognitive capacity by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: And be sure to visit our website at

Aerobics for Your Brain?

September 15, 2012

If researchers and neurologists are correct, doing certain types of mental exercises just might buy you a bit more time with a healthy brain.

Simple things, such as playing memory games on your mobile device or jotting down letters backwards, may help our gray matter maintain concentration, memory and visual and spatial skills over the years. Even tweaking every day routines can help—for example, brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand; or crossing your arms the opposite way you’re used to.  You might even try flipping pictures of your house upside down. The exercise forces your brain out of its familiar grooves because every time you look at the upside down image, your brain has to rotate it. This gets your brain out of its ruts and shakes things up.

The idea of mental workouts marks a dramatic shift in how we understand the brain these days. We used to think that we were stuck with what we were born with, but now we understand that the brain is a lot more plastic and flexible than we thought. Challenging the brain stimulates neural pathways and boosts the brain’s chemistry and connectivity, refueling the entire engine.

Research shows that people who engaged in mentally challenging games do, in fact, show improvement in cognitive functioning. They get faster at speed games and stronger in memory games, for example. What’s less clear is whether this improvement transfers to everyday tasks, like remembering where you parked the car or the name of your child’s teacher.

Like diet and exercise, mental maneuvers may boost brain health in ways science still doesn’t understand. Hopefully a mix of these factors just mix might stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s and other age-related diseases.

Dr. Jane Stewart specializes in helping people of all ages improve their study, reading and cognitive skills at two locations: The Brain Development Center in Novi and Optiminds in Southfield. Contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496-0150 or email her at:

You can learn more about the Brain Development Center at: and Optiminds at:

Dr. Jane Stewart Opens the Brain Development Center

August 5, 2012

Dr. Jane Stewart, owner of Optiminds, an educational and cognitive training service in Southfield, is proud to announce the opening of her second location, The Brain Development Center, in Novi. The Center is located at 23985 Novi Rd., Suite B-104.

“With the opening of the Brain Development Center, we hope to make our proven cognitive training techniques and tutoring services available to an even wider audience,” says Dr. Stewart. The Center offers customized programs designed to improve the cognitive abilities of students of all ages and ability levels. Some areas of focus include improvement of speed reading, visual stamina, visual attention, organization and home school support. The Center even offers daytime programs for seniors to improve cognitive functioning and working memory.

For more information about The Brain Development Center , contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496-0150 or email her at:  You can visit The Brain Development Center online at:, and Dr. Stewart’s Optiminds website at:

Reminder to Register Now for Optiminds Cognitive Camp 2012

April 27, 2012

Optiminds offers metro Detroit’s only summer camp for improving your cognitive skills. With sessions starting beginning June 25, it’s time to register for Optiminds Cognitive Camp! It’s a fun way to keep your brain in shape over the summer with programs individualized and tailored by skill level to students of all ages.

We’re offering weekly camps from June 25 to August 17. Camp hours are from 9:00 a.m to 12:00 noon. Note: no camp July 4. Our NEW LOCATION is Addams Elementary School, 2222 W. Webster, Royal Oak, MI 48073.

Camp sessions focus on multiple areas, including the following:

  •  Cognitive Training
  • Math, Science, Language Arts, & Social Studies
  • Social Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • PCI© Reading Program
  • Orton Gillingham© Phonics
  • FAST© Phonics Program
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Using Puzzles & Games

Register at:

For more information about Optiminds Cognitive Camp, contact Dr. Jane Stewart at (248) 496.0150 or Or Melanie Leavitt Weiss at (248) 417.1416.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the study, reading and cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds brain fitness programs and cognitive skills training by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: And be sure to visit our website at

Optiminds Programs Make Great Gifts

December 20, 2011

When you are making up your Christmas list, why not consider giving an Optiminds program to a friend or loved one? We offer cognitive training programs for all ages—from Math Strategies for kindergarteners to Brain Fitness for seniors.

So if you know someone who needs a little help with test taking, memory improvement, reading or math, we can create a customized Optiminds program to get their year off to a great start. Here are just some of the targeted areas for which we can create a customized Optiminds program:

  • Boomers Brain Fitness
  • Study Skills
  • Test Prep
  • Problem Solving
  • ACT and SAT test help
  • Speed Reading
  • Time Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Tutoring
  • Home School
  • Initiation
  • Abstract Reasoning
  • Improve Cognitive Skills
  • Faster & Easier Information Processing

We’ll identify problem issues and design a variety of tasks that incorporate Mental Exercises, Visualization Techniques and Computerized Drills—plus recommendations on diet and physical exercise. We also develop Life Strategies programs for individuals of all ages.

Give us a call today for more information! Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their cognitive and memory skills. Find out more about Optiminds programs by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or email us at: And be sure to visit our website at

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