Sifting through the archives of our memory we can recall various events which took place in our lives. So what exactly is memory? Memory is the ability of any human to save, maintain and recall various experiences and information.
Memory comprises of cognitive abilities which help us keep information intact and recall it as and when we need for purposes which are rooted in the present. Memory should not be mistaken for imagination. Imagination is what we conjure in our minds which may not always be true.
However, memory is based on actual facts which took place in the past. Memory often merges with emotion. Sometimes recalling a certain event of the past will open the flood gates of emotion like grief, happiness or sadness.
While language or the spoken word helps us to store events in our brain in some cases, in others, a simple yet powerful visual image helps to retain facts which can be remembered at some later point in ones life.
Types of Memory
When we talk of memory we understand that there are three distinct phases to it. The first phase is called sensory memory. Sensory memory can be defined as our ability to recall an event just as we perceived it within an extremely short period of time say about 500 milliseconds after seeing it. Sensory memory is more of a transient kind of memory.
Through practice, people can perfect the process of retaining sensory memory and converting it into long term memory. When events are retained and recalled within a short period of time it is referred to as short term memory. An example of short term memory is the ability of an individual to recall telephone numbers or car registration numbers within a short time of actually seeing it. Sound more than imagery is used to retain and recall information in short term memory.
Long term memory is the ability to recall events which took place in the distant past. People use the method of sequencing or connecting similar objects to help them recall it at a later date. Repetition and practice can help to transport events which are captured in the short term memory to long term memory.
How To Improve Memory
There are different techniques or methods which can be adopted to help people remember things for a longer period of time. Perfecting certain simple techniques will not only help us to improve our memory but it is also a great way to exercise the brain and keep it in top shape.
The Art of Repetition
You may have heard the adage ‘Practice Makes Perfect’. Well nothing works better than this to help us improve our memory. Repetition helps to ensure that information is stored in the memory. One of the best ways of bolstering the memory is by repeating what we have just seen or heard, to others.
You can start off by repeating some small packets of information like telephone numbers. Later move to bigger things like a passage from a favorite book. You will soon understand that repeating information will ensure that it never fades away from memory.
Utilize Your Environment
Utilize your environment to your advantage to help in the process of improving the memory. To help recall events, your surrounding can be used to maximum benefit. As an example, if you have a book to return to the library, change the position of something that is familiar in your surroundings to help your remember the original event.
You can move your alarm clock from its normal place or keep a particular chair out of place. By just looking at the out of position object one can remember the main event i.e. returning the book to the library.
The Method Of Loci
The method of loci is the process of remembering things through location. This process of improving memory was all the rage in ancient Greece and is so even today. People use landmarks to remember events. For example, a certain building that you regularly see on your commute to work can be used to remember some other event. Here location is used to recall information.
Clump Things Together
Chunking or lumping information together is the process of breaking down larger portions of information into smaller more manageable parts. If you want to remember a nine digit telephone number easily, break it down into three segments of three digits each. If you want to remember the names of four people in your group easily chunk together the people whose names start with the same alphabet.
Play the Name Game
One of the best ways to improve ones memory is by playing the name game. Associate a person name with a certain favorite item. For example if you have just met a girl whose name is Candy, try to associate her with your favorite candy. This way you are sure to remember her name the next time you meet her.
If you want to remember something, pay complete attention to your surrounding and what the other person is saying. Don’t let your mind wander in such situations. Pay careful attention to the event and you are sure to remember it at a later date.
Start Thinking in Pictures
One of the best ways to retain and later recall information is to think in pictures. If someone has asked you to buy five pens, think of the pens as five tall trees. So that when you reach the shop and the shop assistant asks you how many pens you need, your mind will immediately think of the five tall trees and you can easily recall the number five.
The Power of Exercise
If you are a slothful kind of person, then it sure to have a negative effect on your memory as well. Physical activity helps to keep your body in shape and your mind razor sharp. Running around your block or swimming a couple of laps will help to improve your memory.
Negative feelings like anger, stress or depression can not only take a toll on your physical health but can affect your memory as well. People who are depressed are unable to store, retain or recall facts with as much accuracy as compared to people who are of a happy disposition.
Go Easy On the Bottle
Binge drinking can have a very negative effect on your memory. So go slow on alcohol consumption and drink in moderation.
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