Memory, often believed to be unchanged in a person, is a myth. As it is the means and source of processing information many brain areas are involved in memory. Scientifically, these brain areas can be stimulated to improve a personâ€™s memory. However, this definitely requires effort and time from an individual depending on the age and other influential factors on memory. When a person is young, his brainâ€™s plasticity or the ability to be moulded is greater, which gives an increased scope to improve memory in a short period and in an efficient manner. Older adults, although having the capacity to improve memory, might take a longer time mainly due to physiological brain changes. With strategic techniques, the memory of an individual can be developed. Few of the most prominent techniques include mnemonics, organizing, elaboration, and rehearsal.
Mnemonics is a memory technique that helps to store information in the long term memory and it is the most efficient strategy to improve memory. It works by substituting unrelated, yet well-known data with the data to be stored. Research has showed that mnemonics helped in better recalling of words or phrases. Mnemonics work due to rhyming principle or association between different information. Acronyms are the most commonly used way of applying mnemonics. It works by substituting the first letter of each word in a sentence to remember an order of data. For instance, the sentence- â€˜my very elderly mother just sat under a netted placeâ€™ can be used to remember the order of planets by associating the planet names with the first letter of each word in the sentence. These are commonly used to remember periodic tables by older students.
Rehearsal is the most common and traditional strategy of improving memory. According to the traditional model of memory, information has to be processed by the sensory systems, followed by retaining the data for a short while in the memory i.e., the immediate or short term memory in order to be stored in the long term store or memory. Retaining the information for a short while is crucial for all the details to be remembered to be used in future. Rehearsal plays a vital role in helping an individual strategize and retain the data in the short term store. Most people use the phonological loop to rehearse the information immediately after being processed by the sensory systems. A common technique involves repeating the data for a required number of times to be echoed in the short-term memory. However, this technique is highly subjective in nature, as each individual has different capacities of processing data. This technique works best with time and effort. With prolonged exposure to rehearsal an individual can see improvement in memorizing the data quickly. On an average, information has to last for about 7 to 15 minutes for it to be moved to the long term store.
ta quickly. On an average, information has to last for about 7 to 15 minutes for it to be moved to the long term store.
Daily strategies to improve memory
Creating new links- It refers to associating different data. When one set of data is difficult to remember, the associated data can help in reconnecting and recalling the required data. This method is also known as elaborating. Elaboration refers to linking the new information that has to be memorized with already existing information in memory. As the information is bridged with what is already learnt, it removes the burden of assuming that something new has to be learnt. Elaboration is especially useful when abstract information has to be stored. Studies show that semantic elaboration is highly effective, as meaningfulness of a data creates associations or new links easily. This also involves linking information from almost all the senses, especially auditory and visual senses. For instance, to remember the name Miley, it can be associated with the word smiley by using both visual and auditory senses of imagining a smiley ball or a smiley face and with the rhyming link to the word respectively.
Writing down information- In order to improve oneâ€™s memory, focused attention is crucial as memorizing is often a conscious effort. Writing down information or creating oneâ€™s own mind maps or visual postal cards etc. involves focusing on constructing information. When a person has to recall information, this acts like a blueprint to quickly identify aspects of data, as the focus was high while creating it. Scientists have found that the reticular activating system found at the basal ganglia is activated when a person writes, which allows a person to pay more attention to details of information.
Memory palace- It is a memorizing tool used by ancient Roman and Greek orators. It works a person imagining their own palace, where every time a new piece of information has to be stored, the person imagines the palace. After entering the palace through imagination, the information is linked or associated to any part of the palace. This technique works by the principles of imagination, semantic elaboration, and mnemonics primarily. The person is required to provide as many details as possible to data in terms of location, sensory associations, meanings, and sounds etc.
Chunking- This is a memory technique in which information is grouped in terms of particular patterns as the brain usually looks for patterns and connections to make remembering and recalling easier. Series of numbers are usually chunked in groups. For instance, 88766650012 can be chunked as 887-6665-0012 to be memorized easily. To remember words, the first letters of the words or phrases are used to create abbreviations. For instance, NGC is used shortly to remember National Geographic Channel.
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