Have you ever wished that you were able to better remember things that you studied? Or maybe you get frustrated when you’re unable to recall your grocery or things to do lists? The topic of memory and recollection has been studied extensively by neuroscientists and psychologists alike. And the good news is: you CAN improve your memory by training it. Our brain is made up of millions of networks of neurons that are engaged in storing and retrieving information. With practice, you can actually expand on these neural networks and improve your memory.
There are two types of memory discussed in scientific research: short-term memory and long-term memory. Short-term memory refers to the memory our brain utilizes to store small amounts of information that is needed right away, for example, someone’s name that you meet for the first time. On the other hand, long-term memory refers to the memory the brain uses for things that are not required immediately, for example, a memory from your childhood.
If you were to scour the internet, there are a ton of neat tips and tricks to sharpen your memory and improve your performance at work, school or life in general. Here are some that are easy to incorporate into your daily life:
- Stress is counter-productive to learning new information. Therefore, try to relax yourself before your study sessions. You can use mindfulness as a technique to de-stress.
- Sleep shortly after a study session to better consolidate your memories. Research shows poorer performance when sleep is substituted for more study after a certain threshold.
- Take frequent breaks while studying; studying in short bursts mixed up in breaks rather than cramming is helpful in building stronger memories.
- When new material is being presented, for example during a lecture, give it your full attention to maximize learning and storage of the information. If you are thinking about something else at the same time, chances are that your memory of the new information will be weak.
- Use mental imagery to represent information you are trying to remember, such as picturing the items on your to-do list instead of just naming them in your head. Forming mental images enhances recollection.
- Test yourself as you study instead of simply reviewing material. Generating your own testing material is one effective way to achieve strong storage and retrieval of memories. Explaining what you learned to someone else is another helpful technique to enhance your memory.
- Elaborate on the material you are learning. Adding meaning to an idea or concept that you’re trying to learn can help to effectively transfer the new material into long-term memory.
So, the next time you feel that you’re not effectively remember things in your daily life, you can try to utilize some of the above well-researched learning strategies to improve your retention. Remember that learning, too, can be improved with patience and practice.