Posts Tagged ‘memory skills’

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

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

Short-term Versus Long-term Memory

November 22, 2011

Experts believe that there are three ways we store memories once they are created—the sensory stage; short-term memory; and long-term memory. These different stages of human memory function as a sort of filter to protect us from the flood of information we are bombarded with every day.

Sensory Stage—When we perceive something, the information is registered in a brief sensory stage lasting only a fraction of a second. This sensory memory allows a perception such as a visual pattern, a sound, or a touch to linger for a brief moment after the stimulation is over.

Short-term Storage–After that first flicker, the sensation is stored in short-term memory. Short-term memory has a fairly limited capacity—it can hold about seven items for no more than 20 or 30 seconds at a time. You may be able to increase this capacity somewhat by using various memory strategies. For example, a ten-digit number such as 8005840392 may be too much for your short-term memory to hold. But divided into chunks, as in a telephone number, 800-584-0392 may actually stay in your short-term memory long enough for you to dial the telephone. Likewise, by repeating the number to yourself, you can keep resetting the short-term memory clock.

Long-term Memory–Important information is gradually transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory. The more the information is repeated or used, the more likely it is to eventually end up in long-term memory, or to be “retained.” (That’s why studying helps people to perform better on tests.) Unlike sensory and short-term memory, which are limited and decay rapidly, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping to improve the cognitive skills of clients of all ages. Find out more about Optiminds customized 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

Common Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

October 6, 2011

Most of us joke or tease about memory loss as we get older. But memory loss that disrupts daily life is not a typical part of aging. It may be one of the signs of Alzheimer’s, a fatal brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills.

Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees; and one symptom alone does not necessarily indicate that a person has Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you are concerned about symptoms you or a loved one are having, following is a list of some of the more common symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Money trouble
  • Difficulty communicating
  • Wandering
  • Repetitive speech or actions
  • Seemingly purposeless activity
  • Loss of initiative and motivation
  • Don’t recognize family and friends
  • Loss of motor skills and sense of touch
  • Difficulty dressing
  • Disregard for grooming and hygiene
  • Forgetting meals
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Verbal and physical aggression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Clingy or childlike behavior

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

Tips to Improve Your Memory–Part2

September 20, 2011

More tips from the experts on how to improve your memory:

Use it or lose it—The more you use your brain, the healthier and sharper it will be. Activities that increase your use of language, such as Scrabble or learning a new language, can also help improve your memory. A recent study by researchers in Luxembourg reveals that older adults who spoke more than two languages were three times less likely to have memory problems than people who were bilingual. Switching from one language to another helps strengthen the connections in our brains.

Don’t be a loner—The more social you are, the less likely you are to develop memory problems and other signs of mental decline as you age, according to a number of studies. Social activities that involve talking and written communication—book clubs, Facebook, etc.—are preferable to activities such as bingo or going to a movie.

Take a walk—Research shows that physical activity is just as beneficial for your brain as it is for your body. Exercise helps the brain sprout new connections between neurons. This is especially true in the hippocampus where our working memory partially resides. Exercise creates new connections in the part of the brain that is most susceptible to problems from aging.

Get a good night’s sleep—The operative word here is “good.” A new study by Stanford University researchers suggests that even getting a full eight hours of sleep the night before a test or performance can impair your ability to remember if that sleep is fragmented or interrupted. So regardless of the total amount of sleep, a minimal amount of uninterrupted sleep is crucial for memory consolidation.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their 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

Tips to Improve Your Memory–Part 1

September 14, 2011

You don’t need to be a baby boomer or older to feel like you are getting more forgetful these days. We can all use some tips on how to better retain information. This is the first of a two-part post with some advice from the experts—leaders in the fields of cognition and aging—on how to improve your memory.

Paint a mental picture—We forget names and dates when they don’t engage our imaginations. Make a name or experience memorable by painting a mental picture for yourself. For example: “Martin Van Buren” could be visualized as “a Martian in a van burning.”

Switch things up—Having trouble learning and retaining new information on your computer? A recent study by psychologists at Princeton and Indiana University reveals that adults who studied complicated information that was printed in unfamiliar fonts scored better on tests than those who read the text in a popular typeface. It seems that the harder font forces the brain to concentrate more intently on the information.

Talk to yourself—“Tip of the tongue” memory lapses are more common as people age because the neural connections in our brains tend to weaken. This explains those embarrassing memory lapses such as when we meet someone we know but can’t remember their name. Names are especially problematic because we can’t substitute other words for them. So if you are going to a social event, for example, try rehearsing the names of the people who will be there. Also, when you meet someone for the first time, say their name out loud so you will be more likely to remember it. It helps to stay relaxed and not panic, and you are more likely to recall the actual name.

Dr. Jane Stewart at Optiminds has been helping people of all ages improve their 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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