Improving Your Memory!

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“Painted Bread” created on the IPAD pro and is a computer painting not a photograph.  © 2017 Dwight Collman.  Do crazy stuff and you will never forget it…a key to long-term memory recall.

I have several methods to enhance memory and I have used these methods all of my life.  First and foremost is repetition and reinforcement by using analogies and simple repetition will do the trick even if you don’t like the information because it is brain plasticity you are activating.  You are actually making new axons and connections despite the loss of neurons with aging you can counteract that effect so much so that you can  have a much greater memory as you age.  People with head injuries especially such violent blunt force head injuries that occur in the military are also patients who have a diagnosis of post traumatic stress syndrome.  This is also a key to long-term memory.  The emotional brain (limbic system) is activated when you have traumas or severe happy or unhappy emotions, this causes new axonal connections which means there is actual new brain tissue and new protein synthesis going on.  The limbic system is directly tied to the hippocampus in each temporal lobe.  These patients don’t try to memorize the accounts of their injuries but often can have vivid recall of multiple emotional events they witnessed.  Many of you are old enough that you can, if asked recite how old you were, where you were, who you were with, (details you never tried to memorize) when president Kennedy was shot.  It was so traumatic it all caused long-term memory.  You can think of your own examples I am sure.

Below I shoe my mnemonic for considering the diagnosis of tetanus.  This is always a clinical diagnosis and how did it happen…how did I create the mnemonic?  First I obtained the list of conditions that mimic live tetanus.  Then I created a silly story: There is this guy, his name is Lester, but he is sooo stupid (from parts unknown), he spells his nam LSTR.  He is also a mean guy and he is easily “pissed”.  MEAN LSTER PS…simple.  Some of my career is to sit and do this silly exercise to create lists that I then put into my brain permanently.   The human brain has no limit to its storage capacity.  It has plasticity and can grow in ability to recall information if you use it.  The use of a smart phone is the death of your mind.  You can’t even recall family phone numbers because you never memorize them in the first place.  You call it a “second brain” or something like that but it is very harmful to your long-term memory if you don’t put it down and spend the time you should learning everything I am trying to help you understand.  Why?  It is the most commons, the second most commons and even the third most common facts like fracture of the wrist: MC: scaphoid; second MC: chip Fx of triquetrum; 3rd MC: Fx of the lunate.  You need statistical memory like this because you will see the most commons in your clinical practice.  If you will see it there you are sure to be tested on these issues on boards and before on your inservice examination.   I am a test item writer.  I am constantly constructing questions and have done it for decades.  I type very fast…because I am using the keyboard more than voice recognition to maintain and even improve that skill.  Part of longevity is the health of your brain.  If the brain is healthy you live longer and enjoy life more.  So today we see from a young age children who memorize very little because they are also given a device: an IPAD at a young age.  This is happening before they learn to read and write and do the basics in mathematics.  It can clearly have a damaging effect if attempts to use recall, repetition don’t happen.  Sure it is expanding the minds of those who who were very creative and self-actualizing by nature.

Death by impact has occurred meaning people die from texting and they walk into an object or traffic an oncoming bicycle.  This is a new phenomenon.  Tech is not really the problem it is that we have a way of using it in an addictive manner that causes us not to use our minds like they were intended to function before hand-held computers existed.

Live Tetanus Mnemonic copy

There is another common mnemonic that was corrected in the Fifth ed of the Study Guide because the author stated that ethanol use is not a significant extrinsic contributor to AG Metabolic acidosis.   Most were taught it does do this but it doesn’t.  So the mnemonic is slightly changed now.  Use that fact to help you recall all the causes of anion gap metabolic acidosis because it is required knowledge.