Memory improvement techniques

hemant (job) (468 Points)

26 March 2011  

Memory Improvement techniques

  • All of us desire to possess an excellent memory system that is robust and dependable. Who, after all, likes to face situations of memory failures that lead to so much of anxiety and embarrassment? All of us certainly would like to know how your memory can be improved. There are a number of strategies for improving memory called mnemonics (pronounced ni-mo-nicks) to help you improve your memory. Some of these mnemonics involve use of images whereas others emphasise self-induced organisation of learned information

Mnemonics using Images

  • This technique require that you create vivid and interacting images of and around the material you wish to remember. The two prominent mnemonic devices, which make interesting use of images, are the keyword method and the method of loci.
  • The Keyword Method : Suppose you want to learn words of any foreign language. In keyword method, an English word (the assumption here is that you know English language) that sounds similar to the word of a foreign language is identified. This English word will function as the keyword. For example, if you want to remember the Spanish word for duck which is ‘Pato’, you may choose ‘pot’ as the keyword and then evoke images of keyword and the target word (the Spanish word you want to remember) and imagine them as interacting. You might, in this case, imagine a duck in a pot full of water. This method of learning words of a foreign language is much superior compared to any kind of rote memorization.
  • The Method of Loci : In order to use the method of loci, items you want to remember are placed as objects arranged in a physical space in the form of visual images. This method is particularly helpful in remembering items in a serial order. It requires that you first visualise objects/places that you know well in a specific sequence, imagine the objects you want to remember and associate them one by one to the physical locations. For example, suppose you want to remember bread, eggs, tomatoes, and soap on your way to the market, you may visualise a loaf of bread and eggs placed in your kitchen, tomatoes kept on a table and soap in the bathroom. When you enter the market all you need to do is to take a mental walk along the route from your kitchen to the bathroom recalling all the items of your shopping list in a sequence.

Mnemonics using Organisation

Organisation refers to imposing certain order on the material you want to remember. Mnemonics of this kind are helpful because the framework you create while organisation makes the retrieval task fairly easy.

  • Chunking : This technique can increase the capacity of short-term memory. In chunking, several smaller units are combined to form large chunks. For creating chunks, it is important to discover some organisation principles, which can link smaller units. Therefore, apart from being a control mechanism to increase the capacity of short-term memory, chunking can be used to improve memory as well.
  • First Letter Technique : In order to employ the first letter technique, you need to pick up the first letter of each word you want to remember and arrange them to form another word or a sentence. For example, colours of a rainbow are remembered in this way (VIBGYOR- that stands for Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red).

Mnemonic strategies for memory enhancement are too simplistic and perhaps underestimate complexities of memory tasks and difficulties people experience while memorising. In place of mnemonics, a more comprehensive approach to memory improvement has been suggested by many psychologists. In such an approach, emphasis is laid on applying knowledge about memory processes to the task of memory improvement.