If you have exams coming up and if you suffer more generally with forgetfulness, or if you just want to increase your brain power in terms of memorization, then I have a few great ways in which you can achieve this goal today.
Firstly, one needs to appreciate that there are arguably two types of memory and these are short term and long term memory. However, this point is debatable because some researchers disagree and see memory power as more of a unified whole across both hemispheres of the brain.
However, if we assume that the principle of both long and short term memory exists, then surely the argument is valid that if we commit something to our long term memory that it will be easier to recall the information at a much later date. When one revises for exams, this would be the long term memory at work. Short term memory on the other hand, is where the brain will store more immediate and pressing information such as new people’s names, places, or even daily train times for example. Due to this level of immediacy with data, short term memory is also known as our ‘active’ or ‘primary’ memory.
Secondly, we need to consider that there are two ways in which one can improve memory power. The first of these is through internal aids which we create in our minds, such as using the power of association which I will discuss in tip three. The second way is through using external aids such as colors and memory games which are discussed in points one and five. In this brief article I will consider just five of the many ways in which you could improve your memory through a mixture of both internal and external devices.
This article is designed for general use for improving ones memory, rather than for those suffering with more severe cases of memory loss due to accompanying mental conditions for example. However, many of the devices mentioned will still prove to be of use in more serious cases of memory deterioration. For example, tip number five regarding brain games could be developed further with regards to this. Let us now explore some of the ways in which you can increase your cognitive capabilities today.
1. Visual Aids And Color Coding
Some people are great visual learners and use bright colors and visual aids to help them remember information. If you have not tried this method before, then try using colored highlighter pens when revising for an exam. Use one specific color for each section, or categorize using colors by relating them to the importance of the data.
For example, red could be for information of primary importance, and blue could be for useful, secondary points that you need to remember. Alternatively, try putting up images or posters on your office walls to help you recall a specific event in history or an occasion. This method certainly does not work for everyone, but it could at least trigger certain aspects of the memory recalling process for you.
Visual learners are often experts at picturing the actual page they saw information on in a text book, or in seeing in their minds eye a detailed map or drawing. They can often even picture musical notation on the page or remember road names through an image of a particular street. We all employ aspects of our visual memory at times, so it could be worth exploring if you can expand upon your visual memory through some of the above techniques.
For example in terms of learning a new area or city, print a map of an area you would like to get to know better in color, and refer to it at regular intervals. Try to follow this up by attempting to draw specific street layouts and so on without looking at the map for reference. Apply this technique to other images or text, and through the act of repetition and in trying to replicate the data yourself, you will in addition be employing your muscle memory and drawing on your imagination skills in the process too.
2. Mnemonic Devices
This is a classic memory technique, and one that most of us do not even realize we have developed. Mnemonics refers to a broad range of techniques from the use of acronyms to music or even poems. Essentially, devices which aid the memorization process can be classed as mnemonics.
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A great example of using mnemonics to help remember information would be the song created to learn the periodic table in science. Here is an example of it below from the YouTube channel ‘Asap SCIENCE’. They use the ‘can-can’ music composed by the composer Offenbach.
To explore this concept further, why not try creating your own mnemonic, perhaps using your favorite popular song to accompany the text which you are trying to memorize. You could get creative trying to make the words rhyme and share your mnemonics with your friends to see if they help them too.
Linking and merging are some of the association techniques which you could utilize to transform your ability to memorize information. In more general terms, associating your memorization task with other more common or familiar ideas or concepts, could aid the learning process greatly for you. For example, linking the author of a book to the film based on the same title.
You could attempt to read the book and watch the film in the same week to really reinforce this connectivity between the two. Alternatively, merging mathematical queries to a restaurant scenario and amounts on a bill receipt, could help you to build up a stronger picture or image in your mind of the problem or task at hand.
You could even work out percentages for example when at the restaurant or when out shopping. This will make your brain associate these concepts of learning with real life scenarios more. These ideas may then appear more important in your mind and therefore may be more likely to transfer to your long term memory.
Expanding upon the mnemonic devices mentioned earlier in tip number two, acronyms would certainly come under that category. However, because they are so widely used in society today, from businesses to schools, I felt it was worth including them as a memory enhancing device on their own.
Acronyms are essentially abbreviations of phrases, which when reduced, makes remembering them easier. For example, you may have heard of the common abbreviations ‘BTW’ which means ‘by the way’, or ‘BRB’ meaning ‘be right back’, or even the very common ‘LOL’ meaning ‘laugh out loud’. However, if you are revising and you have complex systems to learn, for example in science, or the names of presidents in history, then using acronyms can be a great way to commit this information to your long term memory faster.
5. Brain Games
These days you can play ‘brain enhancing games’ on many devices and not just on desktop computers. There is some scientific evidence which backs up the fact that doing so can increase your memory functioning. Although some experts are divided as to if this is indeed really the case, and to the extent to which it may be true, if at all.
However, whether you play a quick game of Sudoku, answer a few mathematical questions or even do a crossword, it cannot help but to do some good and improve your brain's functioning in the more immediate short term. In addition, there are countless new, exciting and interactive ways to keep this sort of learning fun and engaging for the user. For example from videos to apps to actual games devoted to memory enhancement on games consoles such as play stations or nintendos.
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I hope that these brief memorization tips and techniques can help you somewhat with your revision for exams, or more generally with trying to remember information. There are countless other ways to absorb and retain information, and everyone will find a unique pattern and method that works for them in time. However, trying out different techniques such as the ones discussed in this article, could be a great way to discover what sort of learner you truly are at heart.