Memory card game

Photo: Adam Voorhes

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How'd you do? Recalling five or more of the words means your baseline short-term memory is in good shape. But if you came up with fewer, don't panic. maybe you were distracted by a text message, or maybe something else on the page caught your attention while you were reading the list (research shows that simply being unfocused can make it nearly impossible to add new information to your memory bank). Or maybe you just need to incorporate some brain training, which can activate and strengthen neural connections over time, allowing you to call up stored information faster.

Gary Small, MD, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, who designed our test and uses a similar one to help diagnose memory problems in his patients, believes that certain behavioral techniques can help you stay sharper, longer. If you're perpetually misplacing your keys and forgetting to pick up milk at the grocery store, use these tactics to boost your memory today—and help prevent its decline down the road.