Can we really improve our memory? “If you’ve ever found yourself forgetting where you left your keys or blanking out information on important tests, then you have probably wished that your memory was a bit better”. So let’s look at some of the research-backed strategies which have been shown to help us.
Focusing Our Attention
Attention is one of our memory’s most important components. However, we have to actively deal with this data, so we can switch from our short-term to our long-term memory. To that end, the best strategy, is to look at what we want to learn in an environment which is distraction-free. This is because music, TV, mobile phones, and noisy children and grown-ups will just hinder us, and weaken our chances of retaining the information we need.
If you use a number of sessions to study and learn something, you will empower yourself with enough time to adequately process the new data. “Research has continuously shown that individuals who study regularly remember the material far better than those who do all of their studying in one marathon session”.
Organize & Structure
Scientists have determined that: data is organized within our memory in connected clusters. This knowledge helps us understand that we must organize and structure the material that we want to learn. So the best strategy is to: “try grouping similar concepts and terms together, or make an outline of your notes and book readings to help group related concepts”.
Visualization has been shown to be of great benefit to students and anyone else, who needs to recall information. The key is to pay special attention to any graphics, charts or photographs, related to what you need to learn. If, there are no such visual cues, then just have a go at making your own.
So create margins on your documents or note pads, and then draw figures or charts in them. Alternatively, you can use different colored pens or highlighters to group related ideas from the material you are trying to learn.
Use Mnemonic Devices
These relate to a technique which helps people recall information. For instance: “you might associate a term you need to remember with a common item that you are very familiar with. The best mnemonics are those that utilize positive imagery, humor, or novelty”.
Try Reading Out Loud
A study from 2017, indicates that: “reading materials out loud significantly improves your memory of the material. [Moreover], educators and psychologists have also discovered that having students actually teach new concepts to others enhances understanding and recall” .
Relating New Data to What We Already Know
Whenever we look at material which is unfamiliar to us, we should take time out to consider how this information is connected to what we already know. This is because when we establish connections between new concepts and previously existing memories: “we can dramatically increase the likelihood of recalling the recently learned information” .