A lot of us complain about not remembering things all the time. As time passes, we seem to become more forgetful. One of the reasons behind this is an influx of information in today’s modern world. Whatever we do, we are always being exposed to new information and sometimes old information needs to be erased to make room for new one.
Is it possible, however, to train our brain and memories into retaining information for a longer period of time? According to a German psychologist, Hermann Ebbinghaus, it is very much possible.
But, why do we forget things?
It is a coping mechanism for our brain to prevent us from an overload of useless information. So, any new incoming information is saved in the short-term memory by the brain on purpose. If there is need for that information, if it is recalled for some purpose or used in a life skill then it will be stored by the brain automatically in the long-term memory. However, if the information retained in the short-term memory is not recalled and reused, after a certain period the brains discards it.
How to retain information for a longer time?
The best way to do that is repetition. If you want information from short term memory to be transferred to long term memory you need to signal the brain that, that information is necessary. When new information is recalled at intervals the brains perceives it as necessary information and transfers it to long term memory.
This does not mean that you sit in one place and repeat whatever it is that you want to remember twenty or thirty, or more, times. You need to lengthen the repetition over hours and even days. Only then will the brain perceive it as useful information.
For example, if you are preparing for an exam and need to remember the material on a quick basis, make sure that the information is repeated at least 4 times in a 24 hour period with a gap of 4-8 hours between each repetition. Similarly, to memorize something on a long term basis, repeat that information thrice on day 1 and then once at after at least every 3 weeks.
Useful tips to help boost memory
Understanding plays a key part in memorizing information. Instead of cramming facts and figures, if you understand what you are trying to remember you will retain it 9 times faster.
Instead of memorizing from a, b, c and all the way to z only pick the most important and key factors. Prioritize the information which you want to remember.
Serial-position effect is the tendency of a person to recall the first and last bits of information more actively than those in between. Arrange your material accordingly.
Learn by opposites. If you are learning a new language, learn the opposites, like day and night, tall and short. Memorizing by comparison is much more effective.
Build a mind palace. Think of your brain as a room and the information which you want to remember as objects placed around that room. For example, as soon as you enter, e=mc2 is placed right next to the door where you hang your coat. Build associations between objects placed around the room.
Make up a plot and weave the information you want to remember into a story.
Researchers believe that using body language, or gestures, when learning can help trigger muscle memory and this makes recollection easier.
Nail ‘words’ or information to the board inside your mind. These will stand out when you want to remember them
What learning and memorizing techniques do you use? Share with us in the comments section.