Memory enlarges our world. Without it, we would lack a sense of continuity and each morning encounter a stranger staring back from the mirror. Each day and event would exist in isolation; we could neither learn from the past nor anticipate the future.
Why is it that some birds can remember months later the places where they store seeds for the winter and squirrels can remember the locations where they buried nuts, but we may forget where we left our keys an hour ago?
Yes many of us complain of a faulty memory. Yet the human brain, though imperfect, has an amazing capacity to learn and remember. The secret is to make the most of what we have.
What Your Memory Invoves?
It is important to note that the human brain has the potential to process and retain a vast amount of information.
Memory itself involves three stages:
- Storage and
Your brain encodes information when it perceives it and registers it. This information can be stored for future retrieval.
Memory failure occurs when any one of these stages breaks down.
Memory itself has been divided into various kinds:
- Sensory memory.
- Short-term memory and
- Long-term memory.
Sensory memory recieves information from stimuli through the senses, such as smell, touch and sight.
Short-term memory is also called working memory. It holds small amounts of information for brief periods.
Thus we can add up numbers in our head, remember a telephone number long enough to dial it, and remember the first half of a sentence, while reading or listening to the second half. True, short-term memory has limits.
If you want to store information indefinitely, it must go into your long-term memory. How can put it there?
14 Top Ways To Improve Your Memory
1. Visualization: Make a mental picture of what you wish to remember. You might also find it helpful to draw it or map it out.
Like verbalization, visualization makes use of different parts of your brain. The more senses you use, the deeper the information is embedded.
2. Attention: Most memory failures actually represent failures in attention. What can help you to pay attention?
Be keenly interested in what you do and, where possible, take notes. Note-taking not only focuses the mind, but also enables a listener to review the material later.
3. Recitation, or Verbalization: Repeating aloud what you want to remember (a foreign language word or phrase, for example) will strengthen the neural connections. How so?
First, saying the word forces you to pay close attention.
Second, you may get immediate feedback from your teacher.
Third, listening-even to yourself-calls into play, other parts of your brain.
4. Consolidation: Allow time for the information to be processed, to soak in as it were. One of the best ways to do this is to review what you have learned, perhaps by repeating it to someone else.
If you had an interesting experience or read something upbuilding in the Bible or in a Bible study aid, share it with someone.
In that way, both of you will benefit. Your memory will be reinforced and your friend, encouraged.
For good reason, repetition has been called the mother of retention.
5. Interest: Cultivate an interest in the subject. Remind yourself of the reasons for learning it.
As your own experience in life may tell you, when your emotions are involved, you enhance your memory.
For example, when you read the holy book, with the goal of drawing closer to your God and teaching others about him, your memory can be considerably enhanced.
6. Association: When learning something new, it is vital to associate it with something you already know.
Linking thoughts to memories already stored makes encoding and retrieval easier, the association serving as cue.
For example, to remember a person’s name, link it to some unusual feature of his appearance or to something else that will call the name to mind.
The more humorous or absurd the association, the better the recall. In short, we need to think about the people and things we need to remember.
7. Organization: Categorize similar concepts or related ideas. For example, a grocery list is easier to remember when we categorize items-meats, vegetables, fruits, and so on.
Also, divide the information into manageable chunks of not more than five to seven items.
Telephone numbers are usually divided into two parts, so that they can be remembered more easily. Finally, it may help to put your list into a certain order, perhaps alphabetical.
8. Understanding: When you do not understand a teaching or concept, likely you will not remember it well, if at all.
Understanding illuminates the relationship between the parts, knitting them together to form a logical whole.
For example, when a student of mechanics understands how an engine works, he will better remember details about the engine .
9. Drink sufficient water: Dehydration can cause mental confusion.
10. Get enough sleep: During sleep, the brain stores memories.
11. Stimulate your memory: You can stimulate your memory by learning new skills, a new language or musical instruments.
12. Relax while studying: Stress triggers the release of cortisol, which can disrupt nerve interactions.
13. Avoid alcohol abuse and smoking: Alcohol interferes with short-term memory. Furthermore, alcohol can lead to a deficiency of thiamine, a B-vitamin that is essential to the proper working of the memory. Smoking reduces oxygen to the brain.
14. Learn mnemonic techniques: In ancient Greece and Rome, orators were able to deliver long speeches without referring to a single note.
How did they do it? They used mnemonics. It is a strategy or device that helps us store information in the long-term memory and recall it when needed.
This technique combines the principles of organization, visualization and association with something familiar, such as a landmark on a road or an object in one’s room or house.
People who use the loci technique go for a mental walk, associating each piece of information that they want to remember with certain landmarks or objects.
When they want to recall the information, they simply take that same mental walk again.
Do you want to remember words? An effective mnemonic for this is the acronym, which is combining the initial letter or letters of a group of words to form a new word.
Yes, you can train and improve your memory. As studies shown, our memory is much like a muscle. The more we use it ,the stronger it gets, even into old age