Six Ways to Regain Focus

Chances are if you are reading this, you’d like to keep your mind and memories as sharp as can be, for as long as possible. In a December 2017 newsletter, AARP offered six science-backed tips to up your concentration and focus skills.

Grab a good novel: In a study at Emory University in Atlanta, subjects read at night and underwent scans of their brain daily. The scans showed increased connectivity in the part of the brain associated with language. Most interesting to researchers: The neural changes persisted for five days after participants finished the book.

Play an instrument: Or mediate. Or write without interruption for 30 days. “Focusing on a single, complex task improves your ability to focus on other tasks,” says one scientist. It turns out that making a habit of these activities can result in “attentional state training,” where you are better able to get in a relaxed, focused state for other activities.

Work in the morning: In one study, participants ages 60 to 82 performed better on cognitive tasks and were more focused when tested in the morning than in the afternoon.

Learn a language: Researchers found that bilingual speakers were better at maintaining focus and attention than those people that speak just one language.

Chew gum: In a test involving the recall of random numbers, those who were chewing gum responded more quickly and accurately than those who were not.

Volunteer: When older adults volunteered in the Baltimore Experience Corps – a program in which retirees serve as mentors for children – it not only stopped age-related shrinking of the brain, but some brains grew slightly in size, according to one study.