Techniques to Build Cognition:

  • Rehearse. “Repeat to remember” to improve short-term memory, “remember to repeat” for longer term memory.
  • Tell yourself stories about the person you just met. Say the name out loud, ask them to spell it, remark on the similarities to a celebrity’s name, or to someone else you know with the same name.
  • Use word associations and rhyming. This increases the impact of a name or address on memory.
  • Cue the senses. 
  • Break numbers into chunks.
  • Don’t use scratch paper. Instead use a single notebook.
  • Use a paper daily planner to write down all your activities, even movies and chores—and remember to look at it. You remember things better when you write them by hand than if you type them on a keyboard. 
  • Use your planner to keep track of your memory problems and other symptoms, so you can discuss changes in your condition with your doctor, who’s going to want to know what happened and when. Do not ignore symptoms, regard them as a blessing, if they lead you to solving a problem earlier than later.
  • Everything in its place. Always put keys, checkbook, cell phone and wallet in exactly the same places. Start regarding your purse or backpack as a system.
  • Chew gum, yawn—increases oxygen flow to the brain.
  • Build your memory: challenge your brain by learning a new language or a musical instrument. Doing crosswords and Sudoku are fine, but the skills involved don’t seem to translate to tackling other kinds of tasks.
  • Keep your mind active—keep a journal, read literature and poetry, attend virtual concerts, museums and lectures.
  • Become actively involved in your medical treatment. Research and understand your illness—become a partner in your recovery with your medical team, stay current on advances in the field, join the e-patient movement:
  • If you’re experiencing cognition issues, research which parts of your brain are not functioning well, because that will inform you about where to direct your recovery efforts.


The Organized Mind, Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload 
by Daniel J. Levitin

The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science (Null)
by Norman Doidge

The Brain’s Way of Healing, Stories of Remarkable Recoveries and Discoveries
by Norman Doidge

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School 
by John Medina 

The Memory Bible: An Innovative Strategy For Keeping Your Brain Young 
by Gary W. Small 

The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better
by Sandra Blakeslee and Matthew Blakeslee 

The Better Brain Book
by David Perlmutter and Carol Colman 

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
by David Eagleman 

Your Brain After Chemo: A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus
by Dan Silverman and Idelle Davidson