Clair Beaulne ¹ , a memory consultant based in Chelsea, Quebec, say that people with good memories use memory strategies. The following strategies are grouped by: associating and linking strategies, whole brain strategies, organizational strategies, and rehearsal strategies.
To remember names:
Look: make sure you really listen to and "observe" the person's name.
Snap a visual image of the name and the face.
Connect the name-snap with the face-snap.
When you need to remember a long list of random, unassociated items, try linking them together in a bizarre, vivid, nonsensical ACTION-based story. By doing this, you will probably never forget a link in the chain! Sample story using the words from Dr. Small's objective memory test:
plank, banker, sauce, umbrella, reptile, abdomen, lobster, orchestra
"On a long gangplank teeters a banker. In one hand he holds on umbrella and in the other, a jar of tomato sauce which he furiously douses on a large reptile crawling on its abdomen below him. The reptile is devouring a lobster as it makes its way up the gangplank towards the banker. In the background an orchestra plays eerie sounds of pending doom."
Pegging takes new information and pegs (connect/ link) it to information that cannot be forgotten. Pegs are like the tabs on a file folder; they allow you to retrieve new things at a glance. You might also visualize a peg as a hook on a wall or in a closet, where you hang a jacket. This makes recalling new information easier because we have pegged it to something we already know.
What can I use pegs for? LOTS of things...
E.G. HOMES = Great Lakes i.e. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior
E.G stalactite & stalagmite
A stalactite drips down from the ceiling. It holds "tite" to the ceiling of a cave.
Remember how difficult it was to learn your ‘times tables'? Today some primary school teachers are using rap music to help kids remember 2x2. Not only does using music and rhymes help kids learn faster, it's fun, too.
E.G. A rule: "I" before "e" except after "c"- with a rap beat!
E.G. A list: 30 days has September, April, June, and November
After smelling rosemary oil, students in the UK showed improved marks on a memory test. Consider associating a favourite smell with something you are trying to learn and remember.
Making a mind map is a whole brain activity, i.e., it engages both left and right hemispheres of the brain. Mind maps are both verbal (words) and non-verbal (pictures, symbols, colours).
And, visual patterns provide a framework for recall.
For information on creating and using mind maps, link to our online module "Reading and Note-making"
At University of Wisconsin, Drs. Francis Raucher and Gordon Shaw and their team of neuroscientists showed university students who listened to Mozart piano sonatas improved their spatial cognitive abilities e.g. following patterns. Other studies have shown that university students perform better on tests with background classical music instead of silence.
Even if you are skeptical of these outcomes, we know that music can enhance immune functioning, diminish pain, and elevate mood. And, a better mood can sharpen mental ability.
* Source: Small, G. 2003. The Memory Bible: An innovative strategy for keeping your brain young. NY: Hyperion.
Don't go for the details first; there's more chance that you will get lost. When reading, for example, firstly skim the text to get the gist. If you get the big picture, it is easier to remember the detail because you see how the detail connects to the whole.
Study in short sessions over a long period versus cramming for concentrated periods of time. Cramming is an ineffective way to help you remember as, you have learned, memory is added by rehearsal (e.g. reviewing, elaborating) which takes time.
Decide on an order of importance and organize the material into an outline or framework.
When reading, keep in mind the larger pattern of the book or journal article as you progress so you can relate subordinate ideas (e.g. details) to the larger pattern. Mind maps are a great tool for visualizing large patterns from subordinate ideas.
Concentrate on the most significant information. The type of memory strategies you use might depend on the nature of the course. That is, some courses require you to focus on the big picture (e.g. themes, concepts, patterns) while others require attention and memorization of detail.
Remember that 60% of what you read is lost after the 1st hour unless...you review the material.
Both verbal and written recitation of the material will stave off rapid forgetting.You may recite while you read through each paragraph or section. Recite in you own words. Rephrasing or paraphrasing shows that you really know the information.
Link to our online module "Preparing for & Taking Exams" for ideas on reviewing and self-testing.
You can "say it in your sleep"! Overlearning is especially important when preparing for tests and exams because it will protect you if test anxiety blocks your ability to recall what you've most recently learned.
When reviewing for an exam, talk to someone (e.g. use a study group), or yourself, about the topic you've been studying. When you are able to explain the information clearly and intelligently, you have really learned it.
We do a lot of thinking while we sleep-sometimes our most creative thoughts occur during the subconscious sleep state. Freshly learned material is better remembered after sleep than after an equal period of daytime activity when interference may take place. While we sleep our minds are busy sorting, filing, and deleting information.
Acet amino phen
A seat A minnow fin
I'm on a seat in my boat fishing with a minnow when a gigantic fin surfaces the water and steals my bait!
e.g. Spanish verb "to bring" = traer Think of a waiter bringing a ‘tray' of delicious food to your table.
To learn verbatim text:
For large sections, personalize it by putting yourself in the picture then pick all the key words/phrases and turn them into pictures. Again, chain them into an exaggerated story. To commit to memory, run through the pictures in your mind and repeat the passage verbatim aloud.
For names that do not invoke an image, you need to use more advanced memory techniques.
Break the name into syllables and associate each syllable with a word (preferably a noun). Then chain the word-substitutes together to create a visual image.
E.G. You want to remember the last name of the guy who invented this technique: Kevin Trudeau. Start by breaking his surname into 2 syllables: Tru and Deau. Now associate the syllables with substitute nouns which are easy to remember. e.g. 1st syllable sounds like "true". 2nd syllable sounds like a doe or a female deer. So we have: True + doe.
Now chain the substitutes together:
I'm at the archery range shooting at a cardboard cut out of a deer while a TRUE DOE laughs at me from behind a nearby tree!
Repeat the person's name during the initial conversation. If possible, comment on how that person reminds you of someone else you know with the same name.
If the person has an unusual name, ask him/her to spell it out and then visualize an image of the name spelled out.
"The Major Memory" system is one of the most powerful memory systems available. It takes awhile to master, but once learned is very powerful. It works by:
1. linking numbers to consonants →
2. converting the consonants into words (ideally nouns which create vivid images) →
3. sequencing these images together into a storyline.
These sequences can be very complex and detailed and a large amount of information can be accurately memorized. Advanced memory is focused on numbers because numbers give more opportunities to apply memory techniques. To take advantage to this, you should have "numbered pictures" committed to memory. These "numbered pictures" serve as your advance memory vocabulary.
(For a list of 100 "numbered pictures" see Kevin Trudeau's "Mega Memory" book).
Major Memory System- Remembering Very Long Numbers (18 KB)
The strategies below have been adapted from Kevin Trudeau's book "Mega Memory".
E.G. Xenon. Atomic number is 54. Atomic weight is 131.29
1. Break info into small chunks. XEN + ON.
2. Turn into pictures. XEN = zen out as in chill out + ON (same)
ii. Element No. 54
Use your Picture Words. If you don't have a picture word for 54, make one up.
E.G. 5 + 4 = la + ra = lure
iii. Atomic Weight: 131.29
Use your Picture Words or make up one.
131 = ta, ma, ta, tomato 29 = na, pa, nap
Put it all together...
I'm trying to zen out on (Xenon) my hammock, but my friend tries to lure (54) me out to play. I pick up a tomato to hurl at her. She runs away and I go back to my nap (131.29).
E.G. 1st PM of Canada was John MacDonald, first appointed in 1867.
i. Convert numbers to consonants and then to images.
1st: ta, toe
John A. MacDonald: john is slang for toilet and MacDonald reminds me of a BigMac.
1867: 18 = ta, va, TV 67 = cha, ca, cheek
Noun/Images: Toe, John, BigMac, TV, cheek
ii. Chain a story: I stub my toe and on the way to the john to get a bandage, I see that my sister has left her BigMac on top of the TV. Forgetting my bloody toe, I grab her food and stuff into my cheek as I hear her footsteps approaching...