Aug 28

How to Improve Memory

Unless you have a photographic memory (which I doubt since if you did you wouldn’t be reading on how to improve memory) you will find that you have trouble recalling things that at the time you thought was vital to remember. Our brain only makes an effort to store information it regards as necessary. This has become the case less and less due to the availability of information at our disposal. As we become constantly linked to the net through the large presence of computers with internet access and smart phones with 3G we reduce our need to remember things. How many phone numbers did you know off by heart ten years ago? And now? … Exactly. I will give you a few tips and tricks which will help you train memory methodically as the natural method is as simple to apply as reducing the amount we lean on technology.

The Memory Palace

Consider a walk-through of your house. Imagine you are showing someone around your house and mentioning objects that are in the route as you go. That is basically the concept with which to apply the memory palace only that you must associate the list of things you need to remember  with the list of things in your house. Obviously the list of objects you go through in your house (or whichever familiar location you have chosen) must never change and should be solid in your mind. Another factor is to associate both items of the lists in an unforgettable manner. The more outrageous the association, the more memorable it will be.

Summarizing Books

Rephrasing a chapter of a book in a few words makes your brain “understand” what you have read and therefore create more connections between the various concepts rather than attempt to store individual elements with no reference to other segments of information. A mind map is a great way to summarize chapters as it provides a visual representation of the links between the various concepts.

Awaken Childhood Memories

Usually the only time we fall back on our long term memory is when it is asked of us spontaneously. This lack of frequency of use of the long term memory causes it to deteriorate leaving less and less memories at our disposal as the years go by. Make it a task every day to take five minutes to go back in time in your mind and focus on the first memory that comes to your head. Try and remember every aspect of that moment in time: the colours, sounds, smells,  sensations and emotions in that instant. This will re-establish the neural connections be in the brain and train them to work more efficiently in the future.

Help a Child with Homework

Just as with bringing back memories, this exercise trains your long term memory to work at associating facts and digging up experiences from the past. This is a pretty easy one to apply if you have a youngster in your family as their homework will be pretty similar to the things you had  to learn at school. The material in school has not changed so much as that you wouldn’t have covered it in your day. Another bonus factor to this technique is that as the child grows older, you get different exercises to recall and you get to mix the new (or new again) material covered in the recent years with the memory from the past and make it easier to come up with solutions through association. The downside is you cannot chose the child and you might get stuck with an annoying infant trying to evade doing its homework. Good luck! 

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