The parts of the brain called the temporal lobes (TLs) play a critical role in storing and retrieving memories. In order to have crystal-clear, long-term memory and be able to learn new things fast, the temporal lobes need to be kept functioning effectively.
The temporal lobes are behind your eyes, right beneath your temples. They are in charge of short-term and long-term memory storing, thought-processing, language learning and mood stability. The hippocampus is a component inside the temporal lobes that encodes new information and memorizes it. Once the hippocampus is damaged, the brain will neither be able to store new experiences nor retrieve old memories.
A traumatic head injury or imbalanced chemicals in the temporal lobes can lead to memory problems, blurred vision, headaches, reading difficulties and trouble finding the right words in conversation. If the injury happens on the left side of the temporal lobes, it can cause temper problems such as aggression, anxiety and obsessive dark thoughts. For people with severe malfunction of the temporal lobes, physicians may prescribe mood-stabilizing medications such as Depakote, Neurontin and Lamictal, or memory-enhancing drugs such as Namenda, Exelon and Reminyl. Medications, however, are not the only means to revitalize the temporal lobes. Improve temporal lobe function with a brain-enhancing diet, music therapy and simple brain exercise.
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, a neuroscientist and the author of “Making A Good Brain Great,” recommends that people should regularly consume foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and vitamin C in order to nourish the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils can increase fluidity and flexibility in the brain cell membranes, and accordingly keep the brain “young.” Vitamins C and E from fruit, vegetables and nuts act as antioxidants that decelerate the progress of brain deterioration and prevent memory-robbing diseases such as Alzheimer’s and amnesia.
Listening to music, meditating with music, playing a musical instrument and singing are highly beneficial for the brain. According to the Jan 6, 2001 issue of “Lancet," researchers at University of London studied a group of older adults with mild-to-moderate dementia. They tested the participants’ memory performance in various scenarios, with different background noises such as silence, cafeteria noise and music. Their memory performances turned out to be better when they had music in the background rather than random noises or just silence. In addition, the type of music you listen to also matters. When it comes to brain-enhancing music, experts believe that soothing music such as classical and jazz are more effective than percussive tunes like heavy metal and rap music.
The brain is similar to the body muscles in a way. It needs proper stimulation and regular workouts in order to stay fit. Exercise your brain by regularly acquiring new knowledge, reading, adopting new hobbies or learning how to play new games. By challenging your brain to learn new things, you stimulate the use of the temporal lobes and encourage efficient communications between neurons in the brain. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago studied elderly nuns and priests over five years, and found that those who were consistently engaged in brain-stimulating activities reduced their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by one-third.
- "Making A Good Brain Great"; Daniel G. Amen, M.D.; 2005
- Lancet; Music Tunes Up Memories in Dementia Patients; Marilynn Larkin; January 2001