Turn Off Your Phone, Boost Your Memory
By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief
To keep your brain young, memories must be created in order for neurons to grow. According to a RealAge Tip
recently included in their newsletter, Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen said that a key factor to boosting memory is “deceptively simple: unplug.”
According to the doctors, researchers believe that being constantly connected to smartphones, tablets and other digital devices deprives the brain of much needed downtime — "your neurons crave a few growth factors." The downtime is what helps process information and "consolidate memories."
Ironically, mobile users are totally dependent on their devices to remember things. This became extremely evident to Daniel Gulati when doing research for his book Passion & Purpose: Stories From the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders. He concluded, after observing people's smartphone behavior, that frequent use "imposed significant psychological costs on the user."
One of these costs is to memory. In a blog
for Harvard Business Review, Gulati wrote, "First, we don't remember anything anymore. Research shows that we're increasingly outsourcing our personal memory banks to Google and other search engines, effectively wiping our own brains of easily accessible information. But as the growth of apps per device skyrockets and user interfaces simplify, we're relying on more cognitive crutches than ever. Can't recall the name of your coworker? Don't worry; their LinkedIn profile is just a few taps away. Forgotten the name of that Japanese restaurant down the street? Yelp it up! Look for our memory gaps to grow as we train our brains to recall where information is located, rather than remembering the information itself."
Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen say to turn off the phone at dinner or when you are taking a walk and, in general, you have to turn off repeatedly at night and on weekends. The research they cited included a lab study of rats that proved in order to form strong memories, they needed "breaks."
Gulatialso urges users to avoid psychological costs, but acknowledges the need and benefit of having smartphones in both work and personal lives. He suggests, "Some useful tactics include employing scientifically verified memory enhancement measures shifting to offline mode at prescribed moments (for example, adding an email signature communicating that you will not be contactable within 30 minutes of meeting start time…"