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Students and professors explain the importance of memory

Derek Shuck, Staff Reporter - November 28, 2012

During finals week at Central, students try to cram for upcoming tests in a variety of ways.
Some wait until minutes before a test to study, making sure the information is as fresh as possible. Others spend days buried in the Brooks Library Fishbowl, not leaving until they have every important fact memorized. Still others try a different path, turning to modern psychology to boost their brain and ace their finals.

The Human Cognition Project is a program sponsored by lumosity.com which helps improve brain activity through the use of online puzzles and games.

“I wanted a more constructive way to spend my time,” said Nikolai Sheppard, a senior communications major who participates in the Human Cognition Project. “You get to play games and improve yourself.”

The program works to identify weak areas of every individual’s brain, separated into five categories: speed, attention, memory, flexibility and problem solving. Once a participant understands these categories, it becomes important to rank them, focusing on the area which needs the most improvement.

“It’s important to strengthen areas you need help in,” Sheppard said.

Once a participant is aware of the area they want to improve, the project narrows down the categories. Several of these narrowed down categories benefit college students studying for finals, including focusing on the task at hand and improving productivity and precision while working at home.

After prioritizing these sub-categories and entering some basic personal information, the
Human Cognition Project will develop a daily regimen which has been statistically proven to boost the chosen areas of the brain. The site tracks your improvement through a system known as the Brain Performance Index, or BPI. The BPI is a numerical value which compares a participant to every other participant in their respective age group.

As you participate and train your brain through games, Lumosity.com will keep track of the results and apply them to your BPI. The site then estimates how your BPI will change over a three-month period of brain training for 15 minutes a day. Studies have shown that a month of the program’s memory puzzles can provide significant improvement in a subject’s ability to remember important facts.

While the site provides a map for three months of brain training, activity after the first three days has to be paid for. Lumosity offers payment plans on a monthly basis, starting at $5.99 a month.

If a slow, priced process doesn’t sound appealing, some creative students at Central have found their own way to prepare for difficult finals, using their own form of psychology.

“Brain games are great,” said Maggie Caetano, senior family studies major. “I sing important things to Backstreet Boys songs to remember them.”

Many students familiar with finals have learned the value of psychology in studying. Often, when simply paying attention in class is not enough to do well on the final, mnemonic devices and rituals are what get students through the trials of finals week.

“Always on the fourth floor, away from everyone else where no one can bother you, that’s my spot,” Caetano said.

For other students, proper study methods depend more on timing than place.

“Try to study as soon as possible so you have time to digest the information and lower your anxiety before a test,” said Alex Walker, senior political science major.



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