How to train your brain like a memory champion


Most people have trouble remembering where they put their car keys, or if they turned their oven off. And yet an astonishing few can memorize entire decks of cards and long strings of random numbers.

The new documentary “Memory Games” — screening Thursday at IFC Center as part of DOC NYC — offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of these memory athletes as they compete for the title of World Memory Champion.

The Post spoke with two competitors profiled in the film — 24-year-old International Grandmaster of Memory Yanjaa Wintersoul and 34-year-old four-time USA Memory Champion Nelson Dellis — for tips on how regular folks can improve their daily recall.

While Wintersoul began competing while barely out of her teens, Dellis came to the sport a little later in life for very personal reasons: Watching his grandmother’s mind be taken by Alzheimer’s inspired him to sharpen his own. Both now work as memory experts, offering consultations to groups and individuals and speaking at schools, on television and elsewhere.

Like any skill, boosting the brain’s memory center takes effort and practice.“The more you train your memory, the more your brain is interested in memory,” Wintersoul says.

Being mindful and paying attention are key — including “listening to people actively when they’re talking about things,” says Wintersoul.Getting enough shut-eye is also paramount; studies have shown that sleeping helps the brain process and consolidate new information. Wintersoul, for example, strives to get at least eight and as many as 12 hours of sleep a night.

Want to stop the did-I-remember-to-turn-off-the-oven paranoia, or at least get a better handle on peoples’ names? Here are five ways to turbocharge your memory.