Free Memory Tips, May/June 2015 Issue

Below is the June 2015 issue of Free Memory Tips. To learn more about this free email newsletter, or to start receiving it, please visit the Subscription Page. I send out the newsletter about once a month. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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So much to remember, so little time So much to remember, so little time

Welcome to the MAY/JUNE 2015 issue of my free Memory Tips email newsletter. Below are powerful strategies for improving your memory. Ready to boost your brain power?

Below are powerful strategies for improving your memory. Plus I've included links to free online brain games that can strengthen your thinking skills.

In this issue:

  • Positive Mood Improves Working Memory and Decision Making

  • Challenge Your Brain with Free Online College Courses

  • To Boost Alertness, Drink Peppermint Tea

  • FREE Brain Games: Improve SHORT-TERM MEMORY

If you like this newsletter, "pay it forward" by sending this to a friend. If someone did forward this to you, and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting the Memory Tips subscription page.

My goal is to help you learn faster and remember more. That's why I created and this email newsletter.

The secret to a more powerful brain is two-fold: 1) improve your brain health, and 2) learn memory techniques. This can lead to more success and fulfillment in life!

A Positive Mood Improves Memory and Decision Making

Looking on the bright side improves working memory and decision making ability, according to scientists. So if you want to boost your brain power right now, get into a positive mood.

Smiling sun

Working memory is the short-term memory used to learn new information and solve problems. This type of memory is located in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain located behind your forehead.

According to the "dopamine hypothesis", proposed by researchers Ashby, Isen, and Turkenk, a positive mood causes the release of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex. A high level of this brain neurotransmitter directly strengthens working memory.

There's a boost to decision making, too. As reported in the journal Cognition & Emotion, researchers Carpenter, Peters, Vastfjall, and Isen found older adults who were put into a mildly good mood performed significantly better in a decision-making experiment.

As the authors noted,

These results are consistent with the substantial body of empirical evidence showing that mild positive feelings improve people's ability to think carefully, flexibly, and efficiently.

To induce a positive mood, the researchers gave participants a small bag of candy and a Thank You card when they arrived. To keep the participants in a good mood, the computer they used displayed a cheery wallpaper of smiling suns on a sky-blue background.

The control participants did not receive candy or a card, and their computer had a neutral wallpaper. Those in a good mood made noticeably better decisions in response to the challenges presented in the study.

In 2010, Nadler, Rabi, and Minda performed a related study which also investigated the effect of mood on working memory and decision-making. As they pointed out, "Generally, positive mood has been found to enhance creative problem solving and flexible yet careful thinking."

These studies and others have shown that being in good mood can help you out-perform someone who is in a neutral or bad mood. It's more enjoyable to be in a good mood, too - so why not cultivate a positive mood each day?

Ways you can improve you mood include eating brain foods, writing a thankfulness journal, slowing and deepening your breathing, and even putting on a fake smile. For more on how to enhance your mood, see the Positive Mood page on my website.

A positive mood may enhance your performance at school, at work, and other activities where problem solving is required. Improve your mood to give your brain a boost!

Challenge Your Brain with Free Online College Courses

As part of a grand experiment, a number of top-tier universities and organizations now offer free online college courses. From boosting your career to simply becoming a more knowledgeable person, there are many reasons you might want to enroll in one or more of these classes.

online classes

I've decided to investigate this opportunity by taking some online college courses myself and reporting back to you.

The first class I'll be taking is "Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects". This class is offered through by the University of California.

Coursera and EdX are two well known hubs for free online college classes. Both allow anyone to register and access college-level courses for free.

With both hubs, there is one cost involved, but it is optional. With both Coursera and EdX, you can purchase a "verified certificate" to show to prospective employers, etc. once you have completed the course successfully. Coursera charges $49 for the certificate.

However, if you don't need a verified certificate for job applications, promotions, or school applications, there is a free way you can prove you've finished a course. Simply print your progress chart, which is located inside each course you take.

There are many reasons to consider taking free college level classes. Self-development (my reason), continuing education for your career, college prep, and improving your chances in the job market are some that come to mind.

It's important to realize that you can't earn a full degree by taking free online college classes through Coursera and EdX. But this is still a fantastic opportunity to receive high level instruction for free.

As with a regular brick-and-mortar college class, you will have to study hard. But you certainly can't beat the price.

To Boost Alertness, Drink Peppermint Tea

Have trouble concentrating? Drink some peppermint tea.

The scent of peppermint has been shown to boost alertness. Peppermint tea is a convenient, inexpensive, and healthy way to increase your wakefulness during any task.

peppermint tea

Focused attention is the gateway to memory and really all intellectual tasks. The next time you're under a deadline but mired in brain fog, reach for a peppermint tea bag.

I've got my own box of peppermint tea at the ready. On days when I'm tired, and my morning coffee hasn't done the trick, I'll brew a cup of peppermint tea and sip on it while I work.

The scent of peppermint has been attributed traditionally with heightened memory and attention. I reviewed the research on this to see whether these claims have been verified by studies.

It turns out that the claims about peppermint boosting memory are not well supported. Some research found a memory boost, other studies did not.

But across the board, most of the research did support the assertion that peppermint enhances focused attention. As an early researcher in this area, Joel Warm of the University of Cincinnati, put it:

"Not only do you get an improvement [in focus] with peppermint, you get a change in response that affects alertness in target detection," he said.

What if you don't like tea? You can also expose yourself to the scent by placing a peppermint plant on your desk, chewing on peppermint leaves, or rubbing a drop of peppermint essential oil on your temples.

In fact, I keep a bottle of peppermint oil on my desk just for that purpose. I also have an essential oil diffuser that I use sometimes to gently spray peppermint oil into the room air as a mist.

Peppermint helps you focus better, and it can help you sustain that focus over a period of time. On days when you struggle to stay focused, turn to this alertness-boosting scent to help bring your attention back on track.


There are 258 free online brain games on my website, You can play them online anytime.

No restrictions, no logging in. Just pick a game, go to the game page, and start playing.

Below are links to three of the online games that strengthen short-term memory, an important brain ability. Short-term memory is used when learning new information and during problem solving.

Play these free games now to give your brain a boost:

multiply aliens

School Supply Snap. You run the school supply room, and it's your job to hand out school supplies. When a student comes to the counter, you need to give them the item they need. Remember where the different school supplies are located in the supply cupboard. School supplies include tape, scissors, pencils, glue, markers, and much more.

pocket change

Trolley Dash. This shopping list memory game is ideal for practicing the memory techniques used to recall lists. First memorize the grocery list. Then quickly find the items in the store without looking at the list!

daily sudoku

Quick Pic Memory. Quick Pic follows the same rules as other memory match games. Several pairs of flower image cards are shown together briefly on the screen, then the cards are flipped over to hide the images. Your goal is to quickly memorize the location of each image, then flip the cards back over to match the pairs.

That's all for now, and thanks for reading. For lots more tricks and strategies to improve your brain, visit the Get a Better Memory page on my website.

If you like the website, tell your friends and family about it. And please click the Facebook "Like" and Google +1 buttons on my site. Every vote of confidence helps. Smilie

Best regards,
Douglas Jobes
Home of over 250 free online brain games

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