How To Improve Your Memory: Easy Step-by-Step Guides to Improve Your Memory
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To put this into practice yourself, you could group vocabulary words for a new language you're learning by topic, organize items in a list by the first letter or by the number of letters they have, or associate items with the larger whole they might be involved in e.
In addition to memory aids or tricks like the ones above, there are also broader strategies that will help you better remember what you come across everyday—techniques that work no matter what you're trying to memorize.
The #1 Mistake of Memorization
Shattered glass. Stinky socks. Screaming, swaddled babies. When Dellis gave me a crash course on memorization techniques in preparation for the USA Memory Championship, the one thing that stood out to me across all of the methods he shared was how vivid—and often absurd—the images you create need to be to become fixed in your memory. Visualization is a key skill when it comes to memory. Names and numbers are hard to remember because they're abstract and our brains can't easily latch onto them.
But our brains store and recall images much more easily. You forget this person's name, because you haven't really associated that word with anything about that person maybe it's been stored in your short-term memory, but probably not. You need to connect "Mike" to something more. With the memory palace technique and other memorization techniques that deal with symbols such as letters and numbers , the best strategy is to turn something abstract into a sound and visual representation. Use the sounds in the word to turn it into an image.
In the case of "Mike," you can think of a picture of a microphone.
For multi-syllable names, create an image for each syllable. For "Melanie," you might think of a melon and a knee crushing it. Then, the second step is to peg or anchor that image onto the place you will remember it. If your new friend Mike has unusually big eyes, you might imagine microphones bulging out of each of his eyes.
It's similar to the memory palace technique, but instead of anchoring new visual information to a location, you anchor it to a physical feature of whatever you're trying to remember.
Book Summary: “How to Develop a Perfect Memory”, Dominic O’Brien
Animate the images: The more animated and vivid you can make these images, the better. Doing this creates stronger, novel connections in your brain between that word or number and an image. Engage as many of your senses as possible: Remember how the brain begins the encoding process through your senses? You'll remember abstract things like names and numbers more if you tap into your sense of hearing, taste, and smell. In the Mike example, perhaps you'll hear audio feedback from the microphones.
In the Melanie example, perhaps some of the fruit is gushing out of the melon and you can actually smell it. When it comes to numbers, similar techniques apply. You can associate numbers with images, which will help you better remember long strings of numbers. To remember the number , then, picture a swan swimming past a flagpole to pick at a donut. Memory champions such as Dellis encode double- or triple-digit numbers with images so they can memorize hundreds of digits in five minutes. For example, 00 equals Ozzy Osbourne, 07 is James Bond.
Practice and learn more: This name game can help you train yourself to remember names and faces better. And Litemind explains how the major memory system for numbers works.
How to Memorize 10X Faster [A Step-by-Step Guide]
Put away your laptop. You're more likely to remember notes you write by hand than those you type. There are a few reasons why handwriting is preferable to using your laptop when it comes to memory. First, the physical act of writing stimulates cells at the base of your brain , called the reticular activating system RAS. When the RAS is triggered, your brain pays more attention to what you're doing at the moment. When you're writing by hand, your brain is more active in forming each letter, compared to typing on a keyboard where each letter is represented by identical keys.
Also, research has shown that when people take notes on their laptops, they tend to transcribe lectures verbatim. Conversely, when taking notes by hand, we tend to reframe the information in our own words—a more active kind of learning. Perhaps even better: Create mind maps for topics you're learning. It combines the visual element—remember, our brains latch onto images—with handwritten words.
Make a note of it: Learn how to take effective notes and combine paper notebooks with digital tools for productivity. You know how you can study for a test or learn something new, like interesting facts from a book, and then immediately forget what you learned? Unless we actively work to retain that information, chances are we'll lose it—in a matter of days or weeks. That's the natural exponential nature of forgetting, as depicted by the forgetting curve:. If you want to remember something for the long term, such as vocabulary in a foreign language or facts you need for your profession, the most efficient way to learn that material is spaced repetition.
As Gabriel Wyner explains in his excellent book on learning languages, Fluent Forever , "At its most basic level, a Spaced Repetition System SRS is a to-do list that changes according to your performance. You'll begin with short intervals two to four days between practice sessions. Every time you successfully remember, you'll increase the interval e. This keeps your sessions challenging enough to continuously drive facts into your long-term memory. If you forget a word, you'll start again with short intervals and work your way back to long ones until that word sticks, too.
This pattern keeps you working on your weakest memories while maintaining and deepening your strongest memories. Because well-remembered words eventually disappear into the far off future, regular practice creates an equilibrium between old and new.
The way to defeat forgetting is to use a spaced repetition system, with your own physical flashcards or with an app such as the Anki or Pauker. Digital apps are more convenient, naturally, but the act of creating your own cards—including finding images to tie to what you're learning—is a powerful learning experience. For both methods, daily reviews are ideal, but any type of regular routine will help you learn and remember faster. Pro tip: Wyner shares these tips with us, particularly for learning a new language: Make your memories personal don't just copy someone else's mnemonics and make sure you can actually hear the sounds you're trying to remember.
Here's his advice on how to create better flashcards. Finally, there's the old adage that "the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. As demonstrated in one study:. As [students] prepare to teach, they organize their knowledge, improving their own understanding and recall. And as they explain the information to [a computerized character that learns from the students called Betty's Brain], they identify knots and gaps in their own thinking.
The human brain is incredible. Because our neurons can store many memories at a time, our mental storage capacity is somewhere around the 2. That said, while we don't run the risk of our brains getting full, there's tons of information we come across that we can simply offload to our digital tools.
Memorizing information takes effort, so we should focus on the information that we really need to commit to memory. Evernote can stand in for your second brain to help you remember just about anything, or you could use one of the plethora of other note-taking apps to do the same. Find out the best ways on how to improve memory with our guide. Including tips on short and long term memory and the important foods. Most of us can lose our train of thought midway through a sentence but lots of us just put it down to having a 'senior moment'. There is no cast iron scientific proof that any supplements can help improve your memory, but there are some supplements that it has been suggested may have some potential to improve cognition.
Vitamin E may not decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer's, but it may slow its progression. According to the NHS , if you take vitamin E supplements, don't take too much as this could be harmful. Taking mg or less a day of vitamin E supplements is unlikely to cause any harm. Studies have suggested that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acid from foods such as cold-water fish, plant and nut oils, and English walnuts are strongly linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer's. However, there are not enough studies currently available to say whether omega-3 supplements will give these benefits.
Vitamin B12 is thought to help you with memory and concentration by maintaining your myelin sheath, which is a substance that is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Without vitamin B12, this breaks down, and it causes brain cells responsible for cognition to no longer function properly. Long-term vitamin B12 deficiency can cause memory loss and dementia. So if, for example, a joke is learned in the presence of a particular smell, that same aroma may cue the memory for that joke. Research suggests that balling up your right hand and squeezing it tightly actually makes it easier to memorise phone numbers or shopping lists.
Later, when you want to retrieve the information, clench the left fist.
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Researchers think the movements activate brain regions key to the storing and recall of memories. Researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan split students into three groups and gave each one tasks such as playing the game Operation — where body parts are removed without making contact with a livewire — or finding a number in a random sequence. After one attempt, they spent several minutes looking at cute pictures of kittens or puppies and did it again.
Scientists asked people to fill in detailed surveys on their diets and to complete eight rigorous tests to check their concentration, memory and learning abilities. Adults who consumed dairy products at least five or six times a week did far better in memory tests compared with those who rarely ate or drank them.
Several studies have shown that aerobic exercise improves cognitive function and is particularly good at enhancing memory. Exercise is also thought to encourage the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus — an area of the brain important in memory and learning. Scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University got volunteers to listen to recordings of words then either wiggle their eyes horizontally for 30 seconds, vertically for 30 seconds, or just stare ahead. The horizontal movement group recalled more words than the other two, according to results in the journal Brain and Cognition.
This is the easiest of all methods for remembering everything from where you put your car keys to what you need from the shop to revising for a test, say memory experts. Studies found saying what you want to remember out loud to yourself — or even mouthing it — will help with recall.