Tips on memory enhancement will include some of the tried and true methods used for improving recall. Almost anyone, young or old, can benefit from memory methods for recalling faces, names, numbers, place, languages, and information.
The most frequently used mnemonics or memory methods make efficient use of our brains diverse regions. Many are familiar with the common memory device: KISS which stands for "Keep It Simple Stupid". Or how about the mnemonic method for recalling when to set your clock forward or back: "Spring forward, Fall back."
Often what challenges our memory is the basic fact that much of the information we're called on to remember comes to us as words on a printed page. This often doesn't give us much of a toehold for our memories. Luckily memory tricks exist which can associate the dullest and flattest material to our different sense modes.
Here are several common ways to associate new information so it can be stored and retrieved:
When you associate information to images, you will have an easier time recalling the information if you use images which are:
Highly sensual. Use all your five senses. Tactile. Auditory. Taste. Visual. Smell.
Attractive and positive. It's more difficult to recall negative images.
Bright and colorful.
Intensified and exaggerated making them funny and easier to recall.
Odd and unique.
Use symbols, signs, and pictures as associative devices.
Memory is enhanced by proper sleep, healthy eating habits, and exercise.
Imagination and visualization are potent methods for information retention. The more defined, sensual, and vivid an imagined or visualized image, the easier it is to recall later.
Association/linking. This approach helps someone associate material to objects or things to be recalled. Examples:
Linking objects together.
Making ying/yang symbols.
Having objects orbit each other.
Linking by color, sound, odd movements, shape.
(You might link the number 5 to an image of a 5 man basketball team)
If you have to recall items on a list, these are made to order for association/linking. Each item on a list can be associated or linked to a memorable image, object, sound.
An additional association/linking memory help is story making. You place items on a list in a story and link them to images within the story. Story making associations are fine for lengthy lists. Make sure the images, of the items from your list, stand out in boldness, brightness, color, and sound. Most words can create good images, yet occasionally some don't. Another similar word can be substituted if that word will simulate stronger images. Example of a brief story list: dog, fish, rat, box. Story: The DOG ate a FISH after a RAT scrambled out of a BOX.
Likely the most successful method for recalling someone's name, besides being attentive to someone when you meet them, is to notice odd facial and head features such as bulging forehead, large and pointy ears, thick eyebrows, complexion, teeth, jaw, eyes, and the like. Ask yourself if there's anything about their face which relates to their name. This facial association can be a link to recalling name. The person’s name can also be linked with a memorable image of the persons face.
An old tried and true memory device for faces and names is to have the person repeat their name when you meet them. You might say: "Let me get that right, did you say Buffalo Bob Gilberski?" Get the person's card or have them to spell their name if it's unusual. Repeating their name can help. "Glad to meet you Buffalo Bob Gilberski."
Pegging Memory Devices
Pegging is a common memory method. An example is the number & rhyme method which recalls lists in their order. With pegging we link or peg information to a well known sequence like the numbers 1 through 20. This lowers the chances of recalling facts out of order or having blank spaces upon recall. Images are more easily recalled this way. This method works fine with any kind of list you can throw at it from the states in the United States to recollecting the last 40 Academy Awards for Best Picture. Which reminds me that we can create mental pictures, which you link to numbers, by rhyme. The picture rhymes with the number.
Here's an example for rhyming with numbers:
Don't be afraid to switch to something more compelling.
Associate your pictures to images representing what you prefer to recall. Humorous and exaggerated images tend to be more memorable.
For practice write down a list of states and link them to images. Nevada: Pictures of gambling and neon lights. Arizona: Pictures of cacti and deserts.
It helps to write down verbal descriptions of your peg images.
This leads to better retention because you've drawn in another brain region.
The Alphabet Method is another simple memory peg system. It's useful for recalling longer lists of items and putting them in a recallable order. This old favorite associates images (Things you want to recall) to alphabet letters.
With the Alphabet Method you create images for each letter of the alphabet. This is done phonetically with the phonetic sound of the world’s first syllable is the letter's name. Example: the letter "d" is represented with the word "dog".
Alphabet Method Example:
And so forth.
Make your images compelling and memorable. After strongly visualizing the images and linking them to a letter, you then associate them with the information you wish to recall.
Here's a method for linking items to landmarks on a trip. Combining a story and pegs is another memory standard.
With the Trip Method you begin associating information to be recalled with memorable landmarks along the trip route. Use common trips that you make daily. To work, the supermarket, or to home. Get yourself prepared by writing down all the key landmarks on your trip. Make sure these are the most memorable landmarks. Like Sailor Eddie's Tattoo parlor. The Post Office on Sunset Blvd. Now go from the start to the finish of your trip associating information with each landmark.
Example: You're driving to the university and you want to use the drive to recall your shopping lists.
Get in car: Carrots, Pumpkins, Kale
Drive down Blackstone Pike: T-bone, Hungry Man Dinners, Turkey pot pies.
Turn onto Old Mill Road: Cucumbers, Sugar Corn Pops, Pop Corn.
Pass the McDonalds: Coffee filters, Coffee, Coffee creamer.
Turn right in front of the Sinbad Motor Inn: Cheese Danish, Fig Newtons, Cheez-its.
Enter the university parking lot: Tony's Pizzas, Pita bread.
Memory aids are lists of headings and topics to make recall easier. Prepare a list of headings and topics and flesh them out. Go over the list and add in anything previously overlooked.
Example: Building a walkway to the rear of the house.
When to start project:
The Room Method
An old memory pegging approach, similar to the Trip Method, is the Room Method. Often it's applied to learning languages. With the Room method you recall a room you're very familiar with such as your bedroom, kitchen, or the guest house off the South Wing. All you need to do is recall the room in vivid detail. Recall the room's objects and begin to associate images, representing those items you want to remember, to those objects. The exercise can be expanded by using doors to adjoining rooms and by recalling large, medium, and small objects to be found in the room. An adjoining room can be employed to be linked to other categories of information. Even hallways and staircases can be storage areas of information to be retrieved by your memory.
Examples: Your bedroom may contain
Chest of Drawers.
Home communications center.
Assault Rifle Rack.
You may want to recall all the major cities in the world. Tokyo, New Delhi, Fort Leavenworth, Joliet, Port Moresby, Pleasantville.
You begin to associate those cities with different objects in your room--say Fort Leavenworth with the bars on your windows. New Delhi with the corn beef sandwich in your wet bar. Tokyo with Japanese Calligraphy on the far wall. To divide the cities by continent you can put the cities of different continents into other rooms.
You may wish to investigate the use of memory enhancement supplements. Check out the research on choline bitartrate, ginko biloba, antioxidents, and fish oil.
Physical exercises such as walking and running are linked to a good memory.
Keep your brain active through learning, reading, and solving problems and puzzles. Using your memory helps keep it fit.
Folks appear to recall more from what they see than what they hear. This is why imagery pegging systems appear to work well.
Which of the following have helped you recall information?
Discussing or debating material with others.
Doing what you want to remember.
Considering applications of the material.
Noticing what's meaningful or important about the material.
Say it, chant it, sing it, repeat it into a recording device and play it back.
Make a joke or story out of it.
Rhyme the information.
Break the information into manageable chunks. 9999 becomes 99 99.
Paraphrase the information.
Simplifying the information and focusing on central ideas.
Narrate the information and make it imagistic.
Repeat it over and over.
Explain the material.
Underline key points.
Draw pictures or cartoons of it.
Make charts and graphs of it.
Use flash cards.
Get in a group discussion about it.
Make question and answer games.
Recall is helped when the material is:
Perceived as important to us.
Associated with something significant or unusual.
Impacts on us emotionally: Makes us happy, joyful, anxious, fearful, sad, angry, guilty, embarassed, or stirs laughter in us.
Made a bright, colorful, and detailed picture in our minds.
Maybe the last thing we heard or saw during an event.
Recall is helped by having an excellent method for retrieving it. What are the best ways you regularly recall information? How do you do this? Do you use associations and links to retrieve information? If so, how? Can you replicate this?
Memory is often helped when we can recall a specific association. Consider these memory prompts:
Where was I?
Who was I with?
What was I doing just before?
What was I doing right after?
What might someone else recall?
Using trance can be helpful in recalling information and memories.
Returning to the mental state where a memory was made is useful.
Never press yourself to recall. We remember best when we're alert and mildly relaxed.
Have fun, Steve