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How to Improve Memory

Posted on November 27, 2010 at 4:44 PM
How to Improve Memory
 
Memory formation can be divided into three phases: acquisition, storage, and retrieval.
 
Once something is encoded into memory, the memory remains stored. The problem is not that the memory is gone, but that the connection or retrieval path cannot be accessed. Think of memory as a city. The more routes and modes of transportation you have to this city, the easier it is to access this place. Once you have traveled this route, you are less likely to get lost on subsequent trips and no longer need to rely on directions and a map, especially regarding trips you have made recently and frequently. The city doesn't disappear! 
 
So the question becomes how can one learn information in a way that strengthens retrieval paths both in the short and long run. 
 
 
  1. Attention
  2. Repetition
  3. Spacing
  4. Generation
  5. Connection
  6. Understand/Organizing
 
E.g. Let’s say that I am at a party and someone introduces herself to me. Her name is Jasmine. I need to be attentive to learn this new information. If I am not attentive the information perhaps will not encode. Perhaps I am paying enough attention for it to encode but do not manipulate the information in any way. Thus, I cannot access her name from memory but when she restates her name, I experience an “oh yah” moment.
 
If I repeat her name in my head a few times, I will be more likely to remember her name, especially if I space the repetitions. What I mean by spacing is the amount of time that passes before I repeat her name again. If I retrieve/generate her name after 10 minutes, I had to work harder to retrieve that information than if I allow 2 minutes to pass.
 
Perhaps when I first meet her, I try to connect the information with other information I already know. For instance, I know Jasmine means flower and this person also happens to look like Princess Jasmine from the Disney cartoon Aladdin. Now I have connected this information to two other networks, which will also make the retrieval path stronger.
 
E.g. I am studying for a history exam. I am reading the chapter. When I am reading the information, I need to pay attention to it in order to encode it. After each paragraph, I might verbally summarize what I read. If I summarize from memory, I am generating the information, as well as repeating and organizing it. I may connect the information to a previous section or chapter thus increasing connections to other networks and forming multiple retrieval paths.
After I read the whole chapter, I might try to generate the information I read from memory. I may do this an hour later, five hours later, and two days later. Thus, I have not only had multiple repetitions, but I have also had experience generating the information.
 
However, if it is multiple choice test I may only need to recognize and be familiar with the information and multiple generations may not be useful or efficient. For an essay test, I would need to generate the information and thus multiple generations over time may be more useful.
 
Yasi Shamtoub, M.A.
 
 
 

Categories: Memory and Learning

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I am one of those people who tend to forget easily. That is why is is harder for me to remember the names or the lessons that was discussed in class. When meeting someone whom I was already introduced to, I just remind myself how I met him/her. Most of the times, they just laugh it off and say their names again. Whenever there is an exam, I study while chewing a gum and take the exam while chewing the same flavor of gum, it helps me remember more.
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This some great information for people who wants to start taking care of their mind. It is very important to take care of your mind because of you do not, it will lead to certain illnesses that will affect your brain and you will soon regret it when you grow older. For starters, there are many ways to take care of your memory. And one of these is sleeping early. Did you know that even if you sleep for 8 hours or more, but you slept late, this will not make up for the hours of sleep you lost for not sleeping early. So it is important to sleep early and complete that 8 hours of sleep so that your memory will last a long time.
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