Memory Fitness Over 40

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

We now know a considerable amount about the importance of fitness for all age levels, and we have learned that growing older does not lessen the need for exercise nor the benefits it brings. Just as we must exercise our muscles to keep our bodies fit, so must we challenge our memory to keep it in shape. West’s experience in teaching memory improvement, special research in gerontology, and a broad range of examples both personal and clinical enrich this clearly written book aimed at a lay audience.

The first part is an up-to-date report on what scientists know about the way memory functions and what factors, such as age, health, self-concept, and attitude, may influence one’s memory. West emphasizes that lapses in memory are not necessarily signs of the worst, such as Alzheimer’s disease or senility. Believing that understanding how one remembers is the first step toward improving memory, West describes a variety of strategies for improving memory. These include retention, recall, concentration, and learning.

The book’s organization complements its subject. There are many short paragraphs, much labeling of topics, examples from daily life as well as from research, and frequent summaries. This technique is not a pop-psychologist’s trick for impressing friends with feats of memory. Rather, West’s method offers careful, clear instructions for successful remembering, based on knowledge, conscientious effort, and the application of proven strategies. As with any exercise book, reading alone will do little to increase one’s fitness. By following West’s strategies, however, the reader should be able to improve his or her memory and thus add greater meaning to work and leisure.