Although physical exercises are perfect for brain health and cognition, they do not improve the memory itself. To develop memory capacity and improve cognitive abilities, you should have both physical and mental exercises.
As a student, you will often feel tired, but, unfortunately, this is no excuse for the professor. They want to see that your learned something – and they want to see it now. The best way to avoid feeling exhausted all the time while maintaining your high GPA is to improve your memory. Just ask yourself a simple question – what student will have more time to chilax – the one who has to repeat facts over and over again or the one who memorizes everything at the first go.
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Tasks of Sufficient Difficulty
To get significant changes, learning must include tasks of sufficient difficulty, and you should constantly increase the level of their difficulty.This way you will see the progress during regular daily learning sessions. It works the same way as a physical workout. To develop muscles, any person should do more than he/she believes he/she is capable. For the development of memory, a cognitive training is centered on the increase of your capacities through some mental exercises.
Elements to Keep in Mind
When we perform a specific task, say a series of operations on a computer, the more we involve brain systems – the more likely we are to get a good result. And more importantly, these systems are the same ones that will be used later to accomplish this task again. Here are the things to keep in mind when you want to improve your memory:
- We remember more easily the events that bring emotions.
- We remember actions better than thoughts.
- Information that is generated can be better memorized than if something is read or heard.
So, to learn anything well, it is better to do it yourself rather than just observe someone else doing it or read the description in a book. This is the concept of practicing your knowledge. Passive observation hardly activates the prefrontal cortex. The key to memorization is motivation to use it in your real life.
We can remember photos and images better than words. The reason of that is that our visual memory works better and faster, while, for example, dogs have better smell abilities. Your memory capacity improves when you learn some new information. Emotional involvement also improves memory because when you are emotional about something, the amygdala works with the hypothalamus.
It is, therefore, better to be emotionally involved in what you want to remember. Reflect on the meaning of the information and link it to already memorized knowledge. It works better than learning by heart, because the more additional associations and dimensions are added – the more tenacious the memory is. Another fun fact: chewing gum increases memory by 35 percent because it speeds up the heartbeat and increases blood supply to the brain.
Keep Your Brain Active
Developing your cognitive abilities is a process that requires you to be active – watching television or doing other passive activities is useless and, on the contrary, leads to cognitive loss. I find that watching television is just a waste of your time because, unless it is interesting new information, the brain is barely conscious, it has no intellectual challenge.
Watching TV just a little from time to time does not do harm. Nevertheless, it should not invade your life. In the same way that ice cream is not part of every meal, television can be only a small pleasure that you do periodically. If you choose a specific program rather than sitting in front of the screen watching any program, television can be a part of life without any harmful effect.
Which Memorization Techniques Can You Use?
What is the secret of those who have a great memory like professional chess players? How to develop one's memory capacity? Why knowing more than one foreign language makes it easier to learn more? We will give you some tips on memorization techniques that you can practice.
Is It True That Memory Works by Association?
Absolutely. Memory works by association, like in case with key phrases that we use to remember words or phrases. For example, to remember the order of the planets after the Sun, you have the following key phrase "My Very Easy Method: Just Sleep until Noon." The "M" recalls Mercury, the “V” for "Venus", “E” for "Earth", the “M” for Mars, the “J” for Jupiter, the “S” for Saturn, the “U” for Uranus and “N” for Neptune.
So, you see that the key phrase gives phonetic clues. Each letter will serve as a clue to find in the memory the word you need. We have shown you the method of how to learn words or objects that do not have connections between them. But if we link them to a well-known phrase, it is easier to remember them because we move them to the long-term memory. This helps to retain them easier.
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Palace of Memory
We memorize any information with the so-called "palace of memory" technique. In the process of memorization, we only put things to our huge library that is the memory. But beware that it is not the mnemonic processes that help you to memorize. This is absolutely wrong. The mnemonic techniques or memorization techniques are only means that make it possible to access the elements classified in the long-term memory.
Memorize Using Association
Imagine, for example, that I ask you to remember this list of words: bear, bee, beehive, honey, forest, flower, sun, summer. These words are already stored in your long-term memory, and you will be able to remember 6 or 7 words of this list more easily because there is a similar context, that of nature and seasons related to bees. This list is easier to remember than the word list like bee, car, clock, book, house, door, moon, tire. In this second list, you would remember fewer words; it would be more difficult because there is no logic in combination.
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The Role of the Short-Term Memory
In case of memorizing words in English, your short-term memory will come to search for these words in the long-term memory. But what will happen if I ask you to memorize the first list of words in Chinese? You will not remember anything at all, maybe just a few sounds, because they are not present in the long-term memory.
The short-term memory can be compared to library cards. The library cards have the address of the books which represent the long-term memory. The more this library is filled, the easier it is to have easy access (via short-term memory) to a large number of books. If your “library” contains books in Chinese, you will be able to easily retain the list of words in Chinese like in our example. It is also the role of education to fill this library: the more things you have in the long-term memory, the easier it is to memorize anything because things to memorize are already known by the long-term memory.
Learning Foreign Languages
It is certainly for this reason people say that those who already know a foreign language, have more facility to learn another one, especially if this new language is similar. For example, if you know Italian, it will be easier to learn Spanish, because Spanish and Italian have a lot in common. It is the same for people who know Italian and want to learn French.
Just imagine how good a new foreign language will look on your resume. Even if you want to become an engineer, it is always a plus to know at least one foreign language, just in case you need to go on a business trip to another country. Our writers will be more than happy to create an immaculate CV for you to help you get a job of your dream.
On the other hand, it would not be as easy to learn a language quite far from the languages you have learned before. As if we could speak Italian, Spanish, but we wanted to learn Chinese. But even in that case, your brain has already trained to learn foreign languages. So learning Chinese,in this case, would be easier compared to a person who has never learned a foreign language before.
Memorize by the Technique of Associations
What is the technique of associations? Why is this technique effective to memorize anything? For what subjects does this memorization technique work?
Having a good memory is necessary to succeed in your studies. Fortunately, there is a very simple way to improve your memory in all fields: it is enough to use the technique of associations. I am sure you have already experienced it: you cannot remember a very important material, while at the same time you remember perfectly your favorite TV Show or a movie plot.
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The Role of Emotions
This is normal: the brain only keeps what it deems interesting, which is why it prefers information full of emotions. Unfortunately, the school/college/university demands to learn tons of information that the brain deems boring. To retain it quickly and sustainably, we will "cheat" and make it interesting, load it with emotions. To memorize boring information, it is enough to associate it with striking information. And to do that, you will use your imagination. As the technique of associations works for all fields, I will give several examples from subjects that can be studied by a high school student.
Let's start with languages. When you want to memorize any word,you make a link and use the technique of associations. Memorize information without emotional interest by linking it with other more interesting information.
For example, a complicated association: "laúd" which means "lute" (the musical instrument) in Spanish. Well, you can also memorize this word very quickly. Just imagine the following scene: the grumpy bear is playing the lute very LOUDly, and the music he produces is horrible! It is that simple.
Try to visualize the scene well, to make it comic (we better remember the comic scenes, because they bring emotions). It is also up to you to build your own phrase. I think you understand how to do it now. It is a simple and effective way of learning that allows you to memorize any information for longer than simple learning by heart, and once mastered, it also allows you to memorize the information more quickly.
I am sure you can memorize anything and everything now. I will still give you a specific example related to physics because scientific formulas are a little more complicated to memorize than, for example, foreign languages. Just look at the kinetic energy formula:
Kinetic energy = ½ X Mass X speed²
This is information that, certainly, seems very abstract and emotionless! Yet, it is very simple to create a mental image in order to memorize it.
Take kinetic energy. "Kinetic" vaguely resembles the word "cinema". So, you can imagine the projection of a movie to memorize the first part of the formula. You can associate the "=" with two parallel rails of a railway. Then, you imagine "½" (again, it is easy to find an image: you can choose to imagine half a glass of water, etc.) and make it interact with the image of the "mass" (weights, for example), then with the image of "speed²". To visualize "speed²", you can think of a movie/ comics hero whose strong power is speed, but whose head is hidden in a square. And you connect all these elements together to create a memorable scene. After that, you will be surprised how easy it is to memorize this formula.
As you see, the method of associations can work with any material, any subject, and makes it much easier and more fun to learn some theoretical material while doing your homework or preparing for exams. We also talked about the difference between short-term and long-term memory and explained why it is easier to learn a foreign language when you have already learned another one. I hope that our tips and methods would be helpful for you, good luck!