It's no secret that if you want to improve your memory (or any brain function), you have to work at it. A new study, however, shows that specifically learning a new skill that's unfamiliar to you can have a marked improvement in memory.
Photo by Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier.
The study examined three groups of people. One attempted to learn a new skill like quilting or photograph. The second participated in social activities but otherwise learned nothing new, while the third listened to classical music or did word puzzles. The results showed the first group demonstrated improved memory function. The effects particularly emphasised a need to engage the mind later in life:
"It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something — it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone."
While everyone can benefit from learning new skills and simultaneously improving memory, the researchers emphasised that as a person gets older, trying new things is an essential part of ensuring a healthy mind.