10 Tips to Enhance Your Memory

Posted on July 3, 2010

Divya Gupta:

Imagine for the sake of argument that our mind is like a computer. We take in information, process and store it and finally retrieve it when asked and needed to do so. But does our human memory work like the computer? Most certainly not! Rather the memory is such a unique and intriguing feature of our being that it is extremely difficult to chalk out how exactly it functions. Memory basically refers to the encoding, storage and retrieval of information processed. Memory is a very flexible, selective changing process. The malleability of human memory represents a phenomenon that is at once perplexing and vexing. Memory originates from experiences and perceptions. Individual differences are present in the working of the complex machinery of our memory in the brains. Contrary to belief, memory is not a record of all your life events. Forgetting occurs, while other experiences are not stored in the first place.

One of the biggest problems people have is apparently the fact that they can’t remember stuff. There are frequent complaints regarding a bad memory and the fact that information is not remembered when it is needed, for instance in an exam. Psychologists, refer to forgetting as the apparent loss of encoded information from the memory system. Most of the things that we regard as forgotten were actually never programmed properly to qualify as forgotten.

At some point in our lives each one of has definitely wished and prayed for a better memory. Fortunately for most of u, with a little work almost anyone can improve his/her memory. Here are some tips to reach this goal:

  1. ENGAGE IN DEEP PROCESSING: think about processing information more deeply. Elaboration by making it part of your existing information and examining relationships with it, increases chances of remembering it in future.
  2. MINIMISE INTERFERENCE: similar information causes interference which has been cited as a major reason of forgetting. Working on unrelated subjects, practically meaning not studying similar information together leads to better storage and lesser forgetting.
  3. Use visual imagery: you must have heard “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Where memory is concerned, it is often true. It is easier to remember information with vivid visual associations.
  4. Give yourself enough retrieval cues: giving yourself memory prompters is a useful way of remembering stuff. For example, if you studied while drinking coffee, the availability of coffee during the time of retrieval aids it. So if you give yourself hints while rehearsing, it will facilitate memory.
  5. Mnemonics: it comes from the Greek word for memory meaning specific memory enhancing techniques. Mnemonic techniques are specific memory aids involving general and specific methods to enhance retrieval.
  6. ACRONYMS/first letter technique: You form acronyms by using each first letter from a group of words to form a new word. This is particularly useful when remembering words in a specified order. For example: the colors of the rainbow are remembered as VIBGYOR for violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.
  7. METHOD OF LOCI: This technique originated in ancient Greece and it is still one of the best ways to memorize complex or lengthy material, like speeches. The idea is to link the main points of the material to specific locations so that thinking of those locations triggers your recall. Here’s how it works: First, think of a familiar route, such as your commute to work, and imagine traveling that route, noting the stores and other landmarks along the way. Next, pick out the main points in your speech or other information and relate each point in sequence to a landmark on your route. When giving your speech (or recalling the information), think about commuting to work and seeing the landmarks. The image of the landmarks will help your memory.
  8. Chunking: this is a technique generally used when remembering numbers, although the idea can be used for remembering other things as well. A common rule is that a person can remember 7 (plus or minus 2) “items” in short-term memory. In other words, people can remember between 5 and 9 things at one time. Let’s say your checking account number is 379852654. Instead of memorizing it as a string of nine single-digit numbers, try grouping them into triple-digit numbers: 379, 852, and 654. That way, you’ll reduce the number of chunks of information you need to remember from nine to three.
  9. The SQ3R Method: SQ3R means Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review. This five-step method is particularly effective for mastering a large volume of technical information from a textbook or professional document.
  10. THE FUNNEL APPROACH: This means learning general concepts before moving on to specific details. When you study in this manner, you focus on getting a general framework, or overview, before filling in the details. When you understand the general concepts first, the details make more sense. Rather than disconnected bits of information to memorize, such as history dates, the material fits together within the overall framework. Seeing how the smaller details relate to one another, you process the information more deeply (which helps you store, and later retrieve, it from memory).

Other all techniques basically use the basic principles of organization, rehearsals and encoding MEANINGFULLY (semantic encoding). any technique you chosose, you will realise that it requires effort. The idiom “no pain no gain” holds true here as well!

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