How to improve your memory

  1. Hi everyone,

    Does anyone know any good trick out there that can improve your memory?

    For instance, any technique to remember things.

    I have a bad memory, so I am finding ways to improve it.


    Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. I used to have a good method but ive forgotten it. o:)

    (sorry i had to)

    I've spent alot of time on things in the past that i have since forgotten, so i guess it depends on how often you recall and use that memory.
     
  4. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,128
    Gold Member

    If you want to remember a list of things, there's a pretty easy mneumonic to do so.

    Step 1:
    1 = bun
    2 = shoe
    3 = tree
    4 = door
    5 = hive
    6 = sticks
    7 = heaven
    8 = gate
    9 = vine
    10 = hen
    This is just an arbitrary list. They can be anything, as long as they work for you.

    Now, here's the list you want to remember:
    bread, milk, toilet paper, toothpaste, soup, mustard, apples, tissues, batteries, lottery tickets.

    Now what you want to do is create a mental image of item 1 somehow tied to a bun, and so on.
    A bun IS bread, so that's easy,
    a white shoe, splashing in a puddle of milk
    a tree with toilet paper rolls as fruit
    a door with the word DOOR written across it with toothpaste
    etc., etc.

    So when you get to the store, you run through your list:
    bun ... that's bread
    shoe ... splashing in milk
    tree ... with T.P. fruit
    etc.

    If you wanted to, you could remember this list of items indefinitely. My prof that showed us this trick in the first week of class, and still remembered the list months later.


    Me, on the other hand, I am 'Mister To-Do List'. So I keep a tiny notepad and pen on me at all times.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2006
  5. chroot

    chroot 10,427
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I know a lot of very powerful memory techniques.

    First, tell me what kind of material you're trying to memorize, and I'll suggest some techniques appropriate for it.

    - Warren
     
  6. chroot

    chroot 10,427
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    BTW, Dave,

    Here's an even neater technique for creating visual images for numbers:

    Give each number a sound. I suggest the following list:

    0 - S, Z, soft C
    1 - T or D
    2 - N
    3 - M
    4 - R
    5 - L
    6 - CH, J, hard G
    7 - K, hard C
    8 - F or PH
    9 - B or P

    Then, use the sounds to select a word that's memorable to you.

    For example, the number 84 has two sounds, F followed by R. I selected the word "fire," since it is memorable to me, though there are many others you could choose.

    Element number 84 on the periodic table is Polonium. This sounds like "pole," which of course has an iconic connection to firemen. All I have to do is imagine firemen sliding down a pole to remember that 84 is Polonium.

    I memorized the entire periodic table in approximately two nights using these kinds of methods -- making up images for each number, then associating the image of the number with an image of each element -- and I still remember 95% of it almost five years later, with no refreshing at all.

    Your mind is incredibly good at remembering the content of odd or unusual images. The stranger, more grotesque, or more hilarious your images are, the better they'll stick.

    I wouldn't even want to tell you some of my image pegs in mixed company. o:)

    - Warren
     
  7. Anything that has to do with biology
     
  8. Whoa. :bugeye:
     
  9. Like what? Names of species? The kingdoms or some phyla?
     
  10. chroot

    chroot 10,427
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Are you memorizing lists of words? Or anatomy? Or flowcharts of metabolic pathways?

    You really need to be specific if you want some specific advice.

    - Warren
     
  11. To Warren: Anatomy

    To Dave:
    Creating an image doesn't really help me. Okay, maybe it does sometimes, but I still think it is a waste of time.
     
  12. chroot

    chroot 10,427
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    ocean09:

    Images are by far the most potent tool for memorization. If you think they're a "waste of time," it only means you have not yet tried using them.

    To memorize anatomy, first associate a "common" noun with the bone, muscle, or whatever you're trying to remember. A good example might be the "clavicle," or collar bone, which reminds me of the "clavichord," a string instrument similar to a piano. I can create a freakish image of a mad surgeon playing Beethoven's fith on some poor sap's exposed clavicle (oops, I just did), and I'll never forget it again.

    - Warren
     
  13. Actually, I did try.
     
  14. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,128
    Gold Member

    Sounds to me like you're talking more like studying.

    Write your notes (or a given list of items) on a small piece of paper. Read them out loud, then close the piece of paper and try to recite them. Go back and forth between your physical notes and your mental notes, until it's all in your mind and you don't need the paper anymore.

    Move on to another list. After this second list, see if you can get the first again.

    It may take a while but it should come.
     
  15. Yeah, that's the traditional, and simplest way. Every schoolkid knows that way. It is probably the way that is most passive for the mind but still efficient, many times for people with most passive minds. :rofl: :tongue2:
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  16. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,128
    Gold Member

    Well, not everyone has learned good study habits. And it's usually the ones who are having difficulty who need the tips.
     
  17. Probably the most effective way of memorizing is by using mnemonic device :)... Just like in Electronics, the teacher would let me enumerate the values of resistor..
     
  18. I have a shocking memory.

    When I did exams I had to usually rederive formulae from first principles at the back of the exam sheet.

    I always wonder if I'd be smarter if I could rememebr stuff more :biggrin:
     
  19. If you want to remember you want , you must use it! I think it is the effective
    way.
     
  20. I know a couple tricks...


    TRICK #1 -The Mind Movie -

    Problem: Memorize a series of numbers 15 digits long. Series = 217136452649818

    Solution: Create a movie in your mind of chronological events that incorporate all the numbers:
    21 - I'm driving to the casino to play blackjack
    71 - one mile over the rare 70mph speed limit
    36 - one mile over the 35mph speed limit
    45 - the size of my 45liter gas tank
    2649 - I see two Lotto 6/49 tickets on my dashboard
    818 - my cushioning of my car seats look like 818 turned sideways

    When making the movie, look at the series you need to memorize, latch on to a sequence of numbers that you can anchor really well in your mind movie and proceed from there. Its best to make the movie flow so that you don't stumble into disconnects between sequences (ie. 21 to 71). So my above movie reads like this: I'm driving in my car to play blackjack (21), I take a super-quick highway (71), then I take a main street (31), I look down at my fuel gauge (45), I glance to the right to see my lottery tickets on the dashboard (2649), I look at my passenger seat to see its cushioning (818).

    There is no limit to how long the story can be, its up to you. 100-200 digits is very doable. Try to make the sequences 3-5 digits long, like the (2649) sequence, that way you eat up more digits than if they are all 2 digit sequences. Also, when creating your mind movie, pick objects and places already familiar to you because they are already ingrained in your mind with no additional effort. Often I use walking through my house, going to work, or eating at my favorite restaurant because there are so many familiar objects in these places that I can easily associate number sequences with.

    You'll see that after you get good at this technique, it almost seems like you are cheating at memorizing things, because it becomes to easy.




    TRICK #2 -Tying multiple senses into one memory-

    Problem: For some reason or the other, you always forget to lock your cottage door when you leave it

    Solution: Use the environment outside of your cottage door to trigger your memory. Wait for a time when you DO lock your cottage door and try the following...

    TOUCH- Take a mental note of how the door handle feels when you close it. Its curvature, its texture, its roughness, anything that you distinctly feel about the door handle when you close the door.

    SMELL- Breathe in deeply. You may notice the smell of the metal door handle, the smell of the pine trees, or the humidity from the lake. Compress all these smells into one mental sensation of your cottage's exit's smell.

    HEARING- Listen to the squeeling of the door handle being pulled down, the creaking of the door closing, the thump of the shut door. Sounds are extremely unique if you pay attention to them.

    SEEING- Take a look at that bird feeder you see when you recoil away from the cottage door, see that distinct pine tree with its witch's back's knot in it halfway down the truck, gander at your neighbours mail box and take a mental snapshot.

    TASTE- This sense comes into play very infrequently for obvious reasons so we won't touch upon it. For example, we don't usually taste our environment.


    ALL TOGETHER NOW - Once you have mapped out your mental snapshots of all the sensory input you get when closing your cottage door, try thinking about them all at the same time and creating a master snapshot that includes them all. The beauty of this technique is that there are many redundant fail safes in it. For example, if your kid is yelling and you don't notice the door creaking, chances are you will still notice the shape and texture of the door handle. Conversely, if your kid is tugging on your jacket and you don't notice the shape and texture of the door handle, chances are you will still notice the smell of the pine trees, or see your neighbour's mailbox.

    Often, noticing just one smell, or one sight, or one sound, etc. is enough for you to trigger your memory. Even better, is when you notice 2 at once, like if you happen to smell the pine trees at the moment you see your neighbours mailbox. When this happens, your recollection to lock the cottage door will be extra strong. DING! A light will go off in your mind and be brought to your consciousness to lock the cottage door.

    The funny part is sometimes you can't turn this trick off. You could be in Germany's black forest, smell a pine tree and suddenly have the urge to lock your cottage door 5000 miles away. This is sure to give you a chuckle :) This also brings me to my final and very important point. You do not want to oversaturate your mental snapshots with too many sensory stimuli. In other words, I gave 3 examples per sense, but really 1 is enough to ensure the redundancy you need to never forget to lock the cottage door. The reason you don't want to oversaturate your mental snapshots is because if you use, lets say, the scent of a pine tree as your smell mnemonic for locking your cottage door, there's a good chance you will not be able to successfully use the smell of pine again for another memory task in the future. Therefore you always want to use the sense mnemonic that is most unique to the place you are. In the case of the cottage, the smell of the door handle is a very unique smell that is unlikely to be duplicated in any other places you will ever be.

    This last notion is similiar to Chroot's technique where he makes up zany stories, like a Mad scientist playing Beethoven on a person's clavicle. The zanier the story the easier to remember it. The same thing goes with your sensory mnemonic, the more unique to your given situation the less the chance of mnemonic overlap with another memory.
     
  21. The best way to memorize biology is to summarize every paragraph you read in your head before you move on to the next one. Eventually, before moving on to the next chapter, summarize all of the paragraphs you've just read in the original one.. By the end of the book, you will be-able to summarize the entire text. And pulling up specific information will be easier by digging through all of your mental summaries that you have made earlier to find the right one.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?