Staying Sharp For Dummies
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You store information in different parts of your brain. The brain keeps visual information in one part and spatial information in another. However, your brain is very efficient in combining information from different parts to work together when you need to remember something.

The hippocampus is located in the temporal lobe of the brain and is responsible for storing spatial memory and helping you navigate your body in space. Individuals who suffer damage to their hippocampus also experience deficits of their spatial memory. Such individuals feel disoriented and forget where they are or where they're going.

To keep your visual-spatial skills sharp, here are some tips:

  • Puzzle me this. Jigsaw puzzles aren't just for kids. They're a great way to boost your visual-spatial memory skills and develop your ability to see patterns. You have to recognize patterns between the pieces and learn to predict what you think the piece represents. This means that you have to keep in mind what the complete puzzle picture looks like and try to match the place of a single piece. People tend not to use these skills very often in everyday activities, so doing a puzzle is a great way to target these skills.
  • Spot the difference. Change blindness is a term that psychologists use to describe people's inability to spot changes in scenes around them. In many experiments a man stops to ask for directions, and halfway through, a woman takes the man's place. Most people don't even notice! A lot of newspapers and magazines display pictures where you have to spot the difference between two pictures. Sometimes it's a weekly contest. If you used to ignore this puzzle, from now on take a moment to see how quickly you can do it. It's good practice for you to strengthen your visual-spatial skills.

Use your visual-spatial skills to spot the differences in everyday situations. When you walk into your supermarket, try to pick out three things that are different from the last time you were there. Are the vegetables in the same place? Is a new display of sale items sitting at the end of aisle 10? Training your eyes to focus on things that are different not only makes you more observant, but also preserves these skills that you need to remember faces and directions.

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The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) is a nationwide, not-for-profit society of geriatrics healthcare professionals dedicated to improving the health, independence, and quality of life of older people.

The Health in Aging Foundation is a national non-profit organization established in 1999 by AGS to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public.

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