A good memory very much depends on the health of your brain. Whether you’re a student studying for exams or a working professional interested in staying sharp mentally, there are many things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance. Using these five memory-boosting techniques can help increase your ability to learn new information and retain it over time…
One of the most important rules of learning and memory is to repeat, repeat and repeat again. The brain also responds to novelty so repeating something in a different way or different time will make the most of the novelty effect and allow you to build a stronger memory. Examples of using repetition include taking notes, repeating a name after you hear it for the first time and repeating what someone says to you.
A day planner or smartphone calendar can help you keep track of appointments and activities as well as serving as a journal in which you write down things that you would like to remember. Writing down and organising information reinforces learning. You could try jotting down conversations, thoughts or experiences and reviewing the current and previous day’s entries at breakfast and dinner in order to improve the way you organise yourself.
Matching faces with names is known to be a particularly hard task for most people. To improve your visualisation skills, you can in addition to repeating a person’s name, also associate the name with an image. Visualisation strengthens the association you are making between the face and the name. So, for example, you could link the name Sandy with the image of a beach and imagine Sandy on the beach.
If you have difficulty recalling a particular word or fact, you can cue yourself by giving related details or “talking around” the word, name, or fact. Practical ways to cue include using alarms or a kitchen timer to remind you of tasks or appointments or placing an object associated with the task you must do in a prominent place at home. For example, if you want to reserve a table at a restaurant, leave a knife and fork near your phone or computer.
When you’re trying to remember a long list of items, it can help to group them in small sets of three to five in the same way as you would to remember a phone number. This strategy builds on organisation and building associations and helps to extend the capacity of short-term memory by chunking information together instead of trying to remember each piece of information independently. So, for example, If you have a list of 15 important geographical facts to learn, you could group the facts by continent, region, country and area.