HJ: Memory is a skill and not ‘genetically encoded’ — meaning that you have the ability to enhance and improve it at any time. By following some simple, but powerful practices which have been demonstrated to be able to improve memory, enhance learning abilities and generally improve cognitive functioning, you can quite rapidly expand your minds power.
The excellent excerpt below offers ways to sharpen your memory and enhance your recall, which is a highly useful skill in any are of life.
Powerful Ways To Sharpen Your Memory
From Psi Tek
No one is born with a bad memory. Unless factors such as your lifestyle, health, or other conditions has affected it, you can sharpen your memory with the proper knowledge and practice. In this excerpt, I’m going to discuss the basic concepts of memory.
If you want to efficiently remember something, it is necessary that it be regarded in connection, or in association with one or more other things that you already know. The greater the number of other things with which it is associated with, the better chances you will be able to recall it.
Two popular techniques of association are acronyms and acrostics.
An acronym is an invented combination of first letters of the items to be remembered. For example: an acronym commonly used to remember the sequence of colors in the light spectrum is the name ROY G. BIV: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Sometimes, the acronym can be more familiar than the complete name itself, such as RAM (Random Access Memory) or SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus).
On the other hand, an acrostic is an invented sentence where the first letter of each word is a cue to the thing you want to remember. For example, Every Good BoyDeserves Fun is an acrostic to remember the order of G-clef notes on sheet music – E, G, B, D, F. An acrostic for the nine planets of our solar system would be My Very EagerMother Just Sent Us Nine Peaches (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto).
Visualization and Imagination
Images are internal sensory representations that are also used in the creation of memory. They can bring words to mind, which can arouse other images or pictures. The formation of images appears to help in learning and remembering what has been learned or experienced in the past.
Images and words can help you in remembering things by bringing pictures in your head instead of just words or figures. Let’s say, in learning the process of cell mitosis or cell division, most of the books that contain concepts or scientific ideas have pictures to describe scenarios that are sometimes difficult to be seen by the human eye. Another example would be the structure of a bacteria or a virus. Graphic elements and visual tools, therefore, may become guiding principles in learning conceptual or precisely scientific ideas.
Another example would be in memorizing the lyrics of the songs or in remembering stories that you might have read before. In these two examples, the memorization process becomes easier if you imagine the images conjured by the lyrics of the song or if you create vivid images in your mind as you read or recall a narrative or tale. Picture the actual scenario described by the sentences or paragraphs.
To further intensify your imagination, you have to actually feel what the character is feeling. If you’re reading a story about a knight in shining armor fighting a dragon, then feel your strength, the power of your sword, the heat of the fire from the dragon’s mouth, and even the kiss of the princess after saving her from the monster.
Images and the formation of which, in the process of learning or remembering, can therefore help you in improving your memory. Here are some of the valuable methods which you can use in achieving an imaginative memory:
1.Learn to think with both words and figures. For example, in reading a book, it would be helpful to stop for a while and reconstruct the suggested scenario inside your head. This way, you are also increasing the chances of not only recording linguistic data but also some of the essential cognitive aspect of remembering, like the reconstruction of perceived or imagined senses in your brain. The smell and taste of ice cream, the redness of a strawberry, or the thickness or thinness of blood described in a crime novel that not only gives chill or excitement in reading but also makes your reading experience more memorable.
2. In learning new ideas, associate these concepts with a very particular image or picture that is very personal or relevant to you. Put some premium on what you already know or on what is easily conjured by your brain in experiencing these words (like in learning a new language or subject). Put some personal relationship with these words like knowing the origin of their meanings (etymology) or by giving them a concrete symbol in your head.
3. If you’re reading a very technical manual or theory pamphlet, what you can do is imagine yourself doing the scenario suggested by the book. This is also what we call as vivid reading. Words and sentences become alive not with their meaningful connections but with their correlative value with reality. In fact, writing prose or poetry involves a highly developed skill in imagery and mental mapping. Poets and creative writers are said to be good not only in remembering details or facts, but also in the creation of worlds or situations found within the mind.
Grouping of details and data in recalling names or numbers is very essential in the process of retention. The associative power suggested by groups or grouped items help us further organize or give direction in memorization. Pairing words, for example, either synonymously or with their opposing meanings, like “fair” and “square” or “man” and “woman” helps us remember data more easily because they are not only singularly meaningful but at the same time relative to other words or data that we already know from the past.
Clustering numbers (memorizing telephone numbers by threes or by fours) or in whatever relevant grouping, is one tendency that leads to easy access from these numbers or even word groupings. Clustering is one way we can further improve our memory. Examples of these include:
1. Grouping by numbers, colors, or under the same category.
2. Grouping words and concepts by their opposing meanings or through antonyms: (bitter vs. sweet, love vs. hate)
3. Grouping words into pictures or through subjective organization.
Subjective organization depends on the way we recall or organize our materials by our own categories or devices. For example, learning a list of new words or vocabularies can be developed through subjective interpretations of these words or groupings. The better we organize or become aware of how we build a system of information, the better it would be in performing cognitive or mental tasks such as memorization or application of our memory.
One example of this is cooking. We may follow a recipe or procedure dictated by the recipe. But the way we cook food or give meaning to the process of cooking is different from one another. Thus, the procedure is also similar in getting information and knowledge. It would be better if you:
1. Think of the process of how you solve your problems or in getting the necessary information.
2. Know your capacity in the process of learning or memorization. Are you the type of person who easily gets the information by clustering them into meaningful categories, or are you the type of person who learns better if you follow a direction or picture inside your head?
3. Analyze the situation, the details, or experiences. Try to remember the relevant facts and remove unnecessary data or information.
Being disorganized can surely take up a lot of your time, and it can negatively affect your efficiency. Your memory works the same way. Much like folders in a filing cabinet, you can also create mental folders to retain details in an organized manner.
How do we do this?
We create mental folders out of aspects that we can never forget or that are stored in our long-term memory, like days of the week and parts of the body. For this example, we shall take the parts of the body which are the hair, eyes, nose, lips, shoulders, chest, tummy, thighs, knees, and foot. Please take note that you can choose other body parts that are more familiar to you.
Let’s say you have a list of tasks to do. If task number 1 is watering the plants, you can imagine your hair having flowers and leaves growing all over it. The flowers in your hair are happily dancing about as they are enjoying the fresh feeling of water being showered upon them. If task number 2 is cooking fried chicken for dinner, you can visualize your eyeballs to be shaped like whole chicken. The chicken looks so juicy while being fried to perfection.
Do this with the rest of your tasks. Assign a task to each file folder and create an exaggerated and humorous visualization for it. Have fun.
The Story Method
This method requires the creation of a whole story, but it doesn’t have to be extensive as long as all the things to remember are included in the story. It establishes a connection between all the objects, where the sequence of events are easier to remember.
For example, your best friend requested you to serve these 7 dishes on his extravagant homecoming party, namely: prawn, crab, spinach, salmon, roast beef, pasta, and pizza. To remember them, you can come up with a similar story like this: The prawn and crab were walking side by side until the spinach came and yelled at them to pay their debts. Salmon and roast beef came along to stop the quarrel, but pasta and pizza showered them all with a water hose because of the disrupting noise being created.
It doesn’t matter if your story sounds silly. You’re not writing a book or report anyway. And remember, the sillier the story, the easier it is to remember.
The Facts Association
We are continually acquiring items of information regarding all kinds of subjects, and yet when we wish to collect them, we often find the task rather difficult, even though the original impressions were quite clear. This is because we have not properly classified and indexed our bits of information, and do not know where to begin to search for them. It is like the confusion of the entrepreneur who kept all of his papers in a cabinet, without index, or order. He knew that “they are all there,” but he had hard work to find any one of them when it was required.
When you wish to consider a fact, ask yourself the following questions about it:
1. Where did it come from or originate?
2. What caused it?
3. What history or record has it?
4. What are its attributes, qualities and characteristics?
5. What things can I most readily associate with it? What is it like!
6. What is it good for—how may it be used—what can I do with it?
7. What does it prove—what can be deduced from it?
8. What are its natural results—what happens because of it?
9. What is its future; and its natural or probable end or finish?
10. What do I think of it, on the whole— what are my general impressions regarding it?
11. What do I know about it, in the way of general information?
12. What have I heard about it, and from whom, and when?
If you will take the trouble to put any “fact” through the above rigid examination, you will not only attach it to hundreds of convenient and familiar other facts, so that you will remember it readily upon occasion, but you will also create a new subject of general information in your mind of which this particular fact will be the central thought.
The more other facts that you manage to associate with any one fact, the more pegs you will have to pull that fact into the field of consciousness and the more cross indexes will you have whereby you may “run down” the fact when you need it.
7 Principles of Memory
The principles below may be applied to every aspect of your daily life: at home, at school, at work, and in your leisure time. Know that memory definitely involves learning, and both are complimentary activities for better survival and achievement in our modern world.
1. Learners learn from their behavior. Thus, learner errors should be minimized in order to achieve better memory and mastery of skills.
2. Learning is most effective when correct responses are reinforced immediately. Feedback should be informative and rewarding whenever the response is correct as discussed above regarding memory and motivation. Punishment may be effective if used but data also shows that it may also inhibit learning than increase learning and memory improvement. It may temporarily suppress an incorrect response, but the response tends to reappear when the punishment stops. Punishment can also be emotionally disruptive and may become an interfering cognitive dissonance in the process of learning and storing of information. For example, children who are punished for making an error while reading aloud may become so upset and distracted by the punishment that they will commit more mistakes.
3. The frequency of reinforcement determines how well a response will be learned and retained.
4. Practicing a response in a variety of setting increases both retention of data and the transferability of these data into other information. This means one may involve a constant rethinking of ideas or imaging the self in a reactive activity (silently talking to oneself in order to elicit conscious response) in order to enhance better thinking and memory.
5. Motivated conditions may influence the effectiveness of positive thinking and memory and may play a key role in increasing the level of performance in memory retention.
6. Meaningful learning is more permanent and more transferable than memorized learning. Understanding what is memorized is better than just practicing how to become a good memorizer.
7. People learn more effectively when they learn at their own pace.