Visualization, Focusing, and Practice, Practice, Practice!
The human brain can be compared to a library, with the only difference that the brain is responsible for storing long term and short term memories rather than books. Your hippocampus is the area of the brain responsible for storing memories – think of it as the “master librarian” – and a few strategies can allow you to considerably improve your memory skills by integrating the action of the hippocampus with the rest of the brain. Whether you are a high school student or a retired person, these three unconventional ways can allow you to store and retrieve memories easily. You’ll always have access to the mental “shelves” where your virtual books full of memories are stored.
Associating words with images can allow you to remember details more easily. For example, if you are one of those people who usually forgets where you’ve put your glasses than it is best to visualize an image just before putting your glasses down. If you’re putting your glasses on the kitchen table you can imagine your glasses eating a variety of foods. A unique image is likely to help you remember better, one that is odd or interesting, opposed to an ordinary image. This particular technique can be used for memorizing entire lists and can prove to be particularly helpful for students during their exams since visualization helps create stronger memories no matter what is being recalled.
Focusing on a particular piece of information for eighty seconds can allow you to accurately transfer the memory from short term memory storage to long term storage. It is useless to visualize and associate images with words if you do not pay sufficient attention to the process. Most often, memories that are forgotten tend to be related to information processed while you are absent-minded or not paying attention. For example, students who take notes without really listening to the speaker or concentrating on the information are generally unable to remember the underlying concepts, as their attention was not on the lecture even though the words were noted down. Focusing on the task can allow you to absorb new information with ease and store it in your memory for later recall. Ideally, there should be a minimum of distraction during the time that you are memorizing lists or items. Moreover, saying the words out loud will allow you to remember the details far more easily.
Practice Remembering Items
The key to improving memory lies in practicing several different memory skills and enhancing your ability to absorb information in a variety of ways. Techniques such as visualization and repeating out loud will not be the most effective without practice. Rather, the brain needs to be trained in memorizing lists and items. Over a period of time, it becomes easier to absorb information. A study conducted by the Welcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London in 2011 revealed that memorizing extensive lists over a period of time can result in the hippocampus increasing in size. This is largely due to the growth of new nerve cells as a result of extensive memorization.
Memory training skills can start from the simplest items such as memorizing the grocery list, the advertisements that you pass by, the names of the employees in your favorite restaurant, and so on. You can use a variety of techniques for memorizing these lists including chunking, creating mnemonics, and immediately repeating new information. Chunking involves remembering information in blocks while mnemonics refers to remembering a list by creating a word of the initials of the list items. Repeating new information immediately, such as the name of the person that you just met, can allow you to improve the probability of remembering this information by 30% or more.
Your Memory Friend
A smartphone can prove to be a valuable device in helping you improve your memory. The numerous applications that can be downloaded on a smartphone can help you remember your daily schedule and tasks with ease, but that’s not all that these apps can do for your memory. Here’s a list of five applications that can allow you to organize your life and bring about an increase in productivity simply by allowing you to remember your schedule and important information. These applications work in similar fashion to memory training products, something that helps you to develop your own memory skills over time so that you don’t have to rely on the apps to remember details.
This application helps you store everything, on your phone if not necessarily in your memory.
The application is actually a capture system that allows you to store images, snapshots, music, links, and spreadsheets. For example, you can take a picture of the notes that you have taken during class, or of a to-do list. Each image is not only taggable but searchable. This means that you can find words within the image simply by using the search option. Through this application, users can store various documents and other information that they are afraid that they might otherwise forget.
Many individuals tend to forget the password or login id of their accounts due to the fact that it’s often necessary to maintain various accounts in order to access different websites. Furthermore, security reasons entail that the passwords should be unique and must not be repeated for accounts, and many times it’s also necessary to change those passwords regularly. It is often confusing to remember all the passwords, from the PIN code of your ATM card to your Facebook account password.
LastPass is a free application that allows you to store all your passwords in a single location. However, the application is itself secured through a unique password. This simply means that you need to remember one master password instead of a range of passwords.
reQall, like it name suggests, is an application that allows individuals to recall their daily schedule and work to-do list. The application is not only responsible for storing the task that you need to perform but the analytical tool within the application is responsible for prioritizing the tasks in their order of importance. Furthermore, this application is also responsible for organizing your daily schedule so that productivity is enhanced. For example, if you have to pick your child from the dance class and also pick up laundry from the dry cleaner, then this application will instruct you on whether it is better to pick up the laundry before or after the dance class so that the driving route is minimized, saving you time and money.
This application is useful for storing any type of to-do list and helps you to complete your tasks on schedule. Furthermore, you can organize your schedule in accordance to deadline and significance. Lastly, you can search through your notes with ease and make changes accordingly without having to remember the precise date and timing of any particular task.
This application is simply a replacement for the planner that you would otherwise have to carry for your daily schedule. This is an easy to use day planner and allows users to manage their tasks by grouping them in categories such as “upcoming,” “due,” and “overdue.” You can also star a group of activities that are deemed to be particularly important, Lastly, any task can be divided into steps and you can track your progress over a period of time in order to determine how productive you are.
These are just a few apps that can help you remember things, even though they do not help improve your memory recall directly they can reduce the worry of forgetting important stuff. If you would like to check out ways to actually help improve your own memory.
Your Memory Friend
Memory and concentration are virtually inseparable. Part of creating memories is the body and mind’s ability to absorb and process information. The faster and more efficiently you can do this the better. The more your brain absorbs, the better chance you have of not only retaining information for short term periods of time but of being able to convert the information into long-term memories.
These tips are geared towards helping you to focus and concentrate at a higher level, which in turn will increase your memory.
1) Focus your attention, on what you are trying to learn or remember. For example; when someone is giving you a message, turn your head and look at them and concentrate on what they are saying rather than having half an ear on the TV.
2) Gear your surroundings towards being able to concentrate. If you are trying to read a technical document get in a comfortable chair, get as far away from all other distractions as possible. Turn off the TV, turn off the phone, and make certain that the lighting is good. Focus yourself towards the goal and nothing else.
3) Do not try to read for long, straight periods of time. If you need to, try using a timer. Set the timer for 10 to 15 minutes. When the time is up, sit back and mentally go over exactly what you have read and what it all means. Give your brain a chance to process the information. Think out loud, often saying and hearing it will help to build memories.
4) Drink water, not pop or coffee. When our body gets dehydrated it loses some of its ability to focus.
5) Increase the amount of oxygen going to your brain by standing up and moving around. Try doing some stretches or take a moment and practice deep breathing methods.
6) Eat and drinks foods that will feed your brain. Try snacking on fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamins and antioxidants. Do not try to boost your levels by eating and drinking sugars.
7) Try chewing gum. As strange as this sound studies have shown that gum chewing actually helps people to focus.
If you really want to increase and improve your memory you have to increase your level of concentration. How can you really expect to remember things that you were only paying half attention to in the first place? If you give something your undivided attention you will greatly increase your ability to recall the information at later date and time.
The fact is that once you are given a piece of information, much of it will actually be lost after just five minutes. And after one hour, two-thirds of that will have been forgotten, and it only gets worse because after 24 hours chances are that 90% of the information will be completely gone.
This is a basic forgetting pattern. It will obviously vary between people, with the amount of information being given and the value that person puts on that piece of information.
There are a variety of simple techniques that you can use to help stem the forgetting process. If you find yourself in a social situation where you are trying to remember people’s names you should try using one or all of these techniques.
Pay close attention to the introduction, give it your undivided attention. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by things around you. Do not have half an ear on the music or be listening to the conversation behind you. Pay Attention.
Using the Person‘s Name
If you a meet a Mr. Brooks, you might, for example, say “Mr, Brooks what do you do for a living? Or try Mr. Brooks where are you currently working?” The important thing here is to work the person’s name back into the conversation. Repeating the person’s name back will help build associations with both the conversation and the name.
Once you have heard the person’s name repeat it to yourself three times over. And do this again in five minutes. Look around the room and see how many names you can remember. If you are having trouble go and subtly ask someone to tell you the person’s name before you leave the event. Don’t be shy, it happens to people all the time who are meeting large numbers of people at one time. It is important to get the name before you leave rather than trying figure out who the person was at a later date.
When you hear the person’s name try to create a mental picture at the same time. This is especially useful when you can combine it with another piece of information about the person. For example, if you meet a Mr. and Mrs. Collins and they are from Mexico you might picture them sitting on a beach. Not only will this help you to remember their name but you will probably be able to recall where they are from the next time you see them. The more information in the mental picture the better.
Incorporate as Many Senses as Possible
One way of doing this is to say their name out loud a number of times as soon as you can. When you shake hands deliberately take a mental note of whether they had a strong firm grip or was it soft? Are they wearing perfume or cologne? The more senses you use when you are introduced the more you will remember.
Can diet help to improve your memory? The answers is yes. Memory functions both short and long term are primary brain functions, as is the process of how we build and create memories. In order to achieve the maximum results from your memory you have to start with a healthy brain. In order to have a healthy brain you have to feed it the proper nutrients.
The brain actually has one of the highest metabolic rates in the body. This is because the brain never fully shuts down, even while sleeping or resting the brain is still active. It is constantly using nutrients and vitamins to maintain its functions. If these are not regularly replaced the brain cannot function at it maximum potential.
Foods that will help improve memory functions include foods that contain omega 3’s ( fatty acids) and foods that are rich in antioxidants. Foods that contain omega 3’s include fish and nut products. Not all fish are high in omega 3’s but some that are include; salmon, tuna and mackerel. Antioxidants are found in fresh fruit and vegetables particularly those that are purple. Cranberries and blueberries are two great examples of high antioxidants.
Vitamins are also essential for keeping your brain working efficiently. Some of the most important vitamins for good memory functions include; C, A, B, E and K. It is essential to make sure that your body has these vitamins in sufficient quantities every day. Some of these vitamins can be stored in the body while others like vitamin C need to be replaced daily.
Conversely eating foods that are unhealthy can actually reduce brain function. While drinking a coke will give you a quick sugar burst, and a bit of energy, in the long term it will actually reduce the rate at which your brain functions.
Will eating these foods directly help your memory improvement? Again, Yes. They will help you to focus better and be able to concentrate at a higher rate and for longer periods of time. This means that your chances of building long term memories rises. It will also help your brain to both process and organise information more efficiently. If you keep your brain healthy and well fed you will help increase and improve your memory.
The brain is just like a muscle. The more work it does the stronger it gets. And of course, the reverse is also true. The less you use and work it, the more out of shape it will get. If you find that you are having trouble remembering things maybe you need to spend some time exercising your brain.
One of the easiest and funniest way to exercise, stimulate and build your memory functions is to play simple mind games.
The great thing about this game is that you can select not only the number of people to play, where you play but how long and what topics you want to work with. You can even play the game by yourself. Simply read the questions and answers and check in an hour to see how many of them you do recall.
One classic version of this game is played by taking a deck of cards and placing them face down on the table. The first person turns up two cards. If they match you take them off the playing surface. That same player gets to go again. If the two cards do not match, return them face down to the game area, and the next person takes his turn. Play continues until all the cards are gone. The player with the most pairs wins.
There are countless variations of this game. You have to play with two or more people. The first person puts an imaginary object into the basket. He starts by saying “I am going on a picnic and I am taking a pie. The second person would then repeat the phrase I am going on a picnic then adds their own item and the first person’s item. Play goes back and forth with each person adding an item to the basket and repeating in order the other objects already stated. The game ends when one person is unable to remember an item or gets the order incorrect.
When you first get up in the morning write down on a piece of paper ten things. Then throughout the day when you get a moment try to recall in order exactly what was on the list. You can try increasing the number of things on the list each day or play using a specific room or topic. The variations are endless. At the end of the day write down what you do remember and compare it to the morning list.
The game that you select is not important. What is important is that you choose a game that not only helps you to focus but forces you to use your memory skills. These games do not have to take a lot of time, only five or ten minutes a day. However, like any exercise the more you work at it the better you will get.
These two techniques are very easy to learn and apply. Anybody can use them to help them to improve their memory. These methods are not only useful for students studying for tests and exams, but for business people trying to learn new material. They are even great for the homemaker trying to remember a shopping list or someone who just wants to build-up the power of their memory.
In this exercise, you are going to try to remember ten different things you might need to buy at the grocery store. The list of things that you might need would look similar to this:
6 dog food
7 dish soap
8 toilet paper
The Room Method
In this exercise, you need to have a good imagination. You start by visualizing a room that you are very familiar with. This room might be your kitchen, your office or bedroom it really does not matter. Now you are going to slowly look around the room and carefully place each item on the list somewhere in the room.
Let’s say you were planning to use your kitchen. You might picture the eggs in the fridge. The milk might be sitting beside the eggs. the bread you can see on the counter. Place the dog food on the floor next to the door because you want to take it downstairs. Place each item into the room. The more you practice this method the better you will become at it. What you are trying to do is associate the new items with things that are permanent.
Long Term Memory Technique
The next technique is better suited to trying to remember things that basically have to be memorized, and kept for a much longer period of time. This method is especially good for people who are a taking a course or trying to learn a new skill.
Many students try to cram all the information given in a course into their heads the night before their final exam. But by using this technique you are going to work at learning and creating long-term memories that will remain with you by only studying a few minutes each day.
First, gather and organize the facts that you need to know after going to a couple of classes. Write them down in point form. Review the list. Reading the list over should not take more than 3 or 4 minutes, tops. Then in about five or ten minutes review them again. Repeat this step three more times on the first day. Do this twice on the second day and twice on the third day. By the fourth day when you read them you should have created a long-term memory of the information.
If you look at the total time you spent reading the list over the four days it should not be more than an hour. And you only have to do this for a couple of minutes each day. By gathering together even the information given in a course over a week you can greatly increase your memory and understanding of the subject, and keep it for the long term. Finally, no more cramming or last minute anxiety.
Memory is one of our most important brain functions. Not only does it store short term information but we depend on it to help us function every minute of everyday. Unfortunately many people do not realise that there are ways that they can improve their memory. This skill is not only useful for students, it is for everybody.
Sadly, most of us are given information everyday but only a small portion of this information is actually turned into long term memories. If you really want to improve your memory you might consider trying some or all of these easy tips.