How do I improve on memory and answering questions?
March 20, 2010 12:17 PM   Subscribe

How do I improve on memory and answering questions?

I have always struggled with on the spot questions. "quick whats 17 + 4?!" Its not that I don't know the answer or that i can't figure it out, its the pressure of the circumstances that automatically empties my brain of any information it may of had.

I don't think it has anything to do with social anxiety because it happens with my husband, family and friends. It really just feels like my brain turns off whenever I'm called upon to answer questions. The questions don't always have to be under pressure sometimes its in casual conversation. "Whats your age?" kind of thing. My husband calls it brain farts but for me my brain farts all the time!

The other thing I've noticed is if the question is something that I've answered recently I have no problem, but if its an out of the blue sort of thing I get into trouble. For instance when in the grocery store the nice checker casually mentions she never knows what to do with zucchinis and asks "how do you cook them?" I will instantly forget all the wonderful dishes I've ever cooked with zucchini" and even what it is I plan on doing with the ones I just bought.

So my question is; How do I get better at retrieving the information that I know is in my head? Will practice help? or is this something that's hardwired and I need to learn to just deal with it?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I also sometimes have trouble answering the simplest, most mundane questions when put on the spot. Someone will see me look at my watch, and ask me the time, and even though less than 5 seconds have passed, I have to look again. VEXING. I've managed to (I think) sharpen my mind-mouth coordination (like your hand-eye coordination, yes) by playing silly flash memory games pretty regularly.

I don't know if it's actually helped, or if it's just given me the idea that it's helped as my score goes up, but whatever the case, I feel like I have a greater reservoir of mental acuity from which to let random yet basic answers flow.

(Also, if my boss looks at me funny when I'm playing a game or two at work, I can remind him how much nicer it is now that I remember to give him his phone messages.)
posted by elizardbits at 12:34 PM on March 20, 2010

Get a Nintendo DS.

It sounds like the "Brain Age games were made for you.
posted by 256 at 12:50 PM on March 20, 2010

Since people are suggesting brain games: Reader's Digest is featuring some brain games this month on their web site. I haven't played them yet, but they look pretty good.

Also, your question makes me wonder if there is a technique that would somehow let you stall a bit and get into the question, which might help with the answering. Maybe talk about the question, rephrase it, then lead yourself toward the answer.

Like this: Zucchini! - what a funny green vegetable. People have a lot of it in their garden every summer. What are some of the ways I like to cook it? Well, there's roasted, sauteed, grilled, and this great recipe called Summer Vegetable Gratin which I absolutely love.

I guess I'm just thinking that the intro part will help you ramp down from the OMG A QUESTION back to being a really smart person. Might not work with quick math questions, though.
posted by CathyG at 2:27 PM on March 20, 2010

Pretend to be a little deaf, perhaps?

"What, sorry?" - then they repeat the question, possibly slower, and you have a bit more time to think about it and formulate the answer.
posted by Xany at 4:00 AM on March 21, 2010

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