10 Brain Exercises for Seniors: Exercise #3 Syllable Stacks

Have you ever found yourself chatting with someone you just met only to forget his or her name when a third party asks for an introduction? Or, have you started telling an anecdote then realize you don’t remember where you were going with the story, or, perhaps you were in the middle of dialling a phone number to suddenly go blank on the final few numbers immediately after you looked them up?

This form of forgetfulness is associated with the working memory processes in our brains. Working memory is the very short-term memory we use all the time for the majority of our day-to-day tasks, the stuff we tend to do as if on autopilot. This type of memory is very dynamic, helping us complete activities like remembering the first part of a sentence so we can finish it coherently. Our working memory temporarily stores information we receive, particularly what we receive through our senses, such as reading information to momentarily recall it and then letting it go to focus on something else, or, store it in the long term memory. The more efficient our brains are at processing and storing this quick-hit sensory information, the better our working memory becomes. 

Much like a runner doing leg exercises, focusing on improving specific aspects of our working memory can help the whole process function much more smoothly overall. Training your brain to be able to better record the sensory information it receives, for instance your hearing, is an important step to improving how your brain manages your memory. By improving how precise your brain manages the first step of taking in stimuli, you allow your brain to be more efficient in the working memory process. 

The Syllable Stacks exercise challenges your brain to remember increasingly complex information to help sharpen your working memory. By using common sounds from our daily speaking patterns, and throwing in variations of speed and pitch, along with random sound distractors, this exercise works on the neurons responsible for quickly recording and recalling. When your brain is able to record what it hears more precisely, it then stores it at a higher fidelity for a much cleaner and precise recall. 

Free Brain Training Exercises

If you are interested in trying this exercise, and other BrainHQ exercises for free, visit and create a free account to exercise a few minutes a day – it’s not enough, but definitely better than no exercise at all.

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Related pages:

Video - Dr. Mahncke explains hearing & memory
Description of Syllable Stacks Exercise
Brain Auditory Image Gallery


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