Bipolarlife e-Library Improving Your Memory

Improving Your Memory

Poor Memory is a Myth
You do not have a weak memory, even though you think so. In fact, did you know you don’t even have a “memory” or “place” in your brain where you store pictures or information? Memory is actually a mental activity by which information is “impressed” either faintly or strongly in your nervous system. Be encouraged! You can organize and direct your mental activity, or remembering, to make strong information “impressions” (neural traces). In other words, you can remember–lots better than you do now. “How?” you ask. Follow these principles:

The Four R’s of Remembering

RESOLVE: Have a serious intention to remember the lecture or textbook material. This differs from trying to concentrate. When you try to concentrate, you focus on your own emotions and mental condition. Don’t do this. Simply try to remember the information–your focus is then on the subject instead of yourself. This way, you will remember the information better. Research claims that one of the most important factors in a memory task is the “predisposition to remember.”

REACT: Actively respond to the things you want to remember. Becoming a more highly reactive person has the side benefit of raising your level of mental activity in general. When you get involved in a subject by reacting several ways, it won’t “pass in one ear and out the other.” Ways you can react: Think about it, making a picture of it mentally, write it down, generate a feeling (emotional research) to it, talk it over (to self or others), or apply it practically to daily life activities.

REFLECT: Think deeply about the information you want to remember. Associate the new idea or fact with something you already know about and are interested in. Make an analogy (comparison of similar aspects) between your subject and what you already knew. For example, when presented with the fact that a tomato is really a fruit, connect the information with all that you know about the category “fruits.” Asking yourself questions helps you associate facts and ideas. For example, ask what the qualities of a tomato are that cause it to be categorized as a fruit. The more interested you become, and the more you learn about this fact, the better you will remember it.

REFRESH: Brush up your memories as soon as you learn the new information. Review immediately to make stronger “neural traces” or “information impressions” in your brain. To make sure you don’t start forgetting the information, go over it (preferably from notes, so you don’t recall it inaccurately) right after class or study session, once again at bedtime, and then a few times in the following two weeks. If you wait till the semester ends, you’ll have to relearn the material by cramming. By refreshing right away, you’ll really learn and remember the material.

How to Put the Four R’s of Remembering to Work for You

The following two exercises are models for you to follow in using principles of remembering in daily life. We assume you’re already applying the first principle of resolving (intending) to remember.

EXERCISE 1: Memorising a List of Non-Related Items in Sequence

First, break the items into three groups of 2-4 parts. Say them (react) aloud with pauses between the groups, as you would if repeating your social security number. Like this – “100, 49, 1884.” (This is using a rhythmic device to retain sequential order). Now, relate each group to something you know or enjoy (reflect). For example, if you were interested in the history of the California Gold Rush, you could make a little story to attach “significance” to the numbers. Like this: “There were only a hundred (100) forty-niners (49-big gold rush year) left in California in 1884.” Next, refresh this memory (100-49’ers-in 1884) several times the day you learn it, and a couple of times within the following two weeks.

EXERCISE 2: Memorising an Idea, Theory, or Abstract Statement

Sample conceptual statement: Sigmund Freud introduced the importance of the unconscious mind in relation to human behavior.
First, be sure you understand what the professor means by “introduced”, “importance”, “unconscious mind”, and “human behavior”. You can’t remember what you don’t know (haven’t learned). If the information has significance (meaning) for you, it will be more easily remembered, so try to find a reason that you would like to remember this concept. Like this: “I would like to know if my problems with anger have anything to do with my unconscious fears”. (This is reaction). Now, relate this concept to a body of knowledge that already exists in your mind. Like this: “Freud’s theory of the unconscious is related to what I used to call the ‘hidden motives of my heart’, which they talk about in novels and in church. (You are practicing reflection). Now refresh your memory of this concept by thinking about it, or reviewing notes on it, or better yet, by explaining it to someone else. Refresh the day you learn the information, and again a couple of times in the following two weeks

Principles of Memory
1. Intend to remember/learn. Before beginning study Your intention is crucial. If you don’t actively plan to remember something, you won’t remember it very well.
2. Get an “overview” of the task. Whenever you begin a new learning project Getting a preview of the whole process you’re trying to learn will help you later as you read, practice, etc. You’ll be able to fill in details of each part if you start with a simplified version of the whole task first.
3. Review immediately after learning. At the end of each study session Most forgetting takes place immediately after learning occurs–not two hours or two days later. Therefore, review immediately, even if just for a few minutes.
4. Learn actively. Always Most learning time should be actively self-testing and practice rather than passively re-reading. Expose as many senses as possible to the material–read it, hear it, visualize it, etc.
5. Use an hour or two. When you’re trying to read a whole chapter Complex learning such as understanding new relationships learning how to solve a problem requires longer periods of time for efficient learning.
6. Use two to five minutes. When you have a simple mechanical task or rote-memorization Simple tasks and especially anything you have to memorize task are better learned in short, frequent practice sessions rather than an hour or two.
7. Practice what you have learned. In between the time you first learn something and the time you’re tested on it Most forgetting takes place because people haven’t periodically practiced or reviewed what they learned.
8. Learn in an organized way. Always You’ll remember much more when you have a systematic, orderly view of what you have learned. If you have studied facts as isolated events without seeing relationships between them, then you will forget more quickly.
9. Set and understand the goals/objectives for your study session. At the beginning of any learning or retrieving session This gives you a purpose and a complete overview of each study session, and it will help you become a more systematic and organized learner.

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