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The Science of Memory: Top 10 Proven Techniques to Remember More and Learn Faster

The Science of Memory

  1. Encoding - the stage when the brain consciously acknowledges information based on our senses. When we attach meaning or factual knowledge to any of this sensory input, that's called semantic encoding which makes us retain memories longer.
  2. Storage - it is when information is stored in different areas of the brain, thanks to the neurons that connect every time we perceive information.
  3. Recall - when our brain "replays" or revisits our memory even though it is not as exact as the first one.

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The Science of Memory: Top 10 Proven Techniques to Remember More and Learn Faster

The Science of Memory: Top 10 Proven Techniques to Remember More and Learn Faster

https://zapier.com/blog/better-memory/

zapier.com

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Key Ideas

The Science of Memory

  1. Encoding - the stage when the brain consciously acknowledges information based on our senses. When we attach meaning or factual knowledge to any of this sensory input, that's called semantic encoding which makes us retain memories longer.
  2. Storage - it is when information is stored in different areas of the brain, thanks to the neurons that connect every time we perceive information.
  3. Recall - when our brain "replays" or revisits our memory even though it is not as exact as the first one.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Memory

  • Get a good night's sleep or take a power nap after learning something new, to help retain and retrieve memories better. Sleep deprivation and acquisition of too much information will not help you save those memories.
  • Get moving, to improve the flow of oxygen-rich blood in your brain and to trigger neuron growth and new connections in the brain - critical for memory.
  • Improve your diet. Fats from food can build up the brain, resulting to poor blood flow.

Mnemonics

Any system or device designed to aid memory:

  • patterns of letters or words (common mnemonics)
  • ideas (memory palace)
  • associations (chunking)

Everyday Memorization Techniques

  • Make new connections that are visual (and perhaps outrageous): Turn the sound of names into a visual representation and anchor it to a physical picture of whatever you want to remember; Animate the images to easily remember them; Engage as many of your senses as possible.
  • Write notes or lectures down instead of typing them, to activate your brain and senses. Creating mind maps could also help you remember.
  • Use spaced repetition, from short to long time spaces when recalling/reviewing an information.
  • Share what you're learning, so you can prepare and organize your knowledge, and improve your understanding.

Common Mnemonics

  • Acronyms/Expression Mnemonics are sets of letters or words that correspond to certain words or meaning.
  • Music Mnemonics are catchy songs or jingles that help you to remember long string of words or letters.
  • Rhyming Mnemonics refer to the rhymes of the end of every line that create a song-like pattern.
  • The Rhyming Peg System: In this system, for each number, you memorize an image of a word that rhymes with it. That image provides a "hook" or "peg" for things you want to remember, especially in order.

Memory Palace

With the memory palace technique, you associate a location you're familiar with—such as your apartment, the block you grew up on, or the route you take to work or school—with the items you're trying to remember. It works because you're visually pegging (or "placing") representations of what you want to remember in places you already have strong memories of.

Chunking

... refers to the grouping of information into smaller sets, to easily remember them based on the patterns or organization each segments form.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Memory And The Brain

Memory is the brain’s way of integrating sensory-motor information into a symbolic representation that allows prediction of future occurrences. To better memorize it’s important to engage wi...

Connect & Link (The Link Method)

This memorization technique involves creating associations between items in a list and assigning images to each connection to help you memorize better. 

For instance, your accounting exam is tomorrow and you need to memorize which items fall under the Current Asset section of a balance sheet (Cash, Inventories, Accounts receivable, Prepaid expenses).

Make a Story (The Story Method)

This approach is really similar to the Link Method. While you create a bunch of different images between each two items using the Link Method, you combine everything into one big picture with the Story Method. This technique helps you memorize the sequence of the images and hence the order of the items. 

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1. The Loci Technique

Also known as “The Memory Palace, it consists of associating each item you’re trying to remember with a specific image and a place. You can imagine the items lying around in places that have...

2. Mnemonics

Acronyms, music (very effective) or rhyme, or sentences of words that start with the same letter as the items you are trying to memorize are all mnemonic techniques that help you to remember and retrieve information.

3. The Storytelling Technique

Stories encompass all the qualities of information that makes our brain love and remember it: vivid and colorful picture and engaging plotlines about other beings that are alive.

By creating a narrative that is interesting to and include items you need to memorize, you create a story your brain can follow.

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Successful people stick to their reading habit

A random sampling of the world’s most successful people will show one common trait: a love of reading. Because reading is the easiest way to continue the learning process. 

Whatever problem you’re struggling with is probably addressed in some book somewhere written by someone a lot smarter than you."

- Ryan Holiday

Whatever problem you’re struggling with is probably addressed in some book somewhere written by someone a lot smarter than you."

- Ryan Holiday

Our memory is made up of 3 components

...in terms of reading retention:

  • Impression
  • Association
  • Repetition

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Say it out loud

Learning and memory benefit from active involvement. When you add speaking to it, the content becomes more defined in long-term memory and more memorable.

Take notes by hand

Most of us can type very fast, but research shows writing your notes by hand will allow you to learn more.

Taking notes by hand enhances both comprehension and retention.

Chunk your study sessions

Studying over a period of time is more effective than waiting until the last minute.

Distributed practice works because each time you try to remember something, the memory becomes harder to forget.

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The Forgetting Curve

Our memories have a 'forgetting curve', and unless we review what we see or learn, most of the content is forgotten in 24 hours, and the rest in the following days.

Due to the Interne...

Memories Are Associations

The more information that is available to us, the more we are unable to retain it. Memory means association and most information we consume may be simply buried inside, lurking deep in, and surfacing when the right cue pops up.

Binge-watching or binge-reading serves no useful purpose as we are only holding the content in our working memories. That's why schools space out the chapters and review them, helping us retain the material.

Memories Get Interwoven

The art and culture we engage our brains in turn into memories which can be unpredictable and fickle.

The books we read, the songs we hear and the movies we watch become interwoven and entangled with everything else in our lives.

Reflect on what you read
Just go back and give yourself a little time to reflect on what you just read. Sit there long enough to:
  • Mentally identify the main points or concepts.
  • Jot down some note...
Making connections

When you give yourself a few minutes to rest and think about what you just read,  you're allowing your brain to better connect the new information to what you've already done or understood.

You stand a better chance of the new memories being more powerful and easier to retrieve.

The myth of lost time

When you can remember information from your content better, you actually can end up saving time. 

You don't have to go back and look up as many facts or ideas, and you can apply the information on the fly better. 

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The different kinds of memories
The different kinds of memories

We hold on to different kinds of memories.

  • Short-term memories last seconds to hours and long-term memories last for years.
  • We also have a...
Where your brain keeps memories

By studying people with amnesia, it seems that short-term and long-term memories don't form in precisely the same way, nor do declarative and procedural memories.

  • Emotional responses such as fear occur in a brain region called the amygdala.
  • Memories of learned skills are associated with the region called the striatum.
  • The hippocampus is essential for forming, retaining, and recalling declarative memories.
  • The temporal lobes play a critical role in forming and recalling memories.
How we experience memories

Memories are held within groups of neurons called cell assemblies. They fire as a group in response to a specific stimulus, such as recognising your friend's face.

The more neurons fire together, the more the interconnection of the cells strengthen. We experience the nerves' collective activity as a memory.

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A New Way To Study
A New Way To Study

Studying takes too much time, and there is only a limited number of hours. Spaced repetition method uses time intervals and makes you recall more information, using less time.

The spacing e...

Pierce J. Howard
Pierce J. Howard

“Work involving higher mental functions, such as analysis and synthesis, needs to be spaced out to allow new neural connections to solidify. New learning drives out old learning when insufficient time intervenes.”

Everything Remains In Memory

A recent theory on forgetting states that everything we learn remains in storage inside our memory, but our ability to recall and retrieve that information fades if we do not practice fetching information.

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Note-taking: a powerful tool for learning
  • Notes extend your memories: writing can be seen as an external enhancement of your brain, allowing you to think more complicated thoughts and solve harder problems.
  • Not...
How to Take Notes While Reading
  1. Figure out your purpose.
  2. Choose a technique that maximizes your focus on what is most relevant for your purpose. 
  3. Decide whether to optimize for review or retrieval practice.  
  4. If you do need to go back into the text again and again, create clues in your notes that can help you find what you’re looking for faster.
Figure out your purpose

Ask yourself why are you reading:

  • What am I trying to remember? 
  • How am I going to use this information? (e.g. on a test, cited in an essay, etc.)
  • What do I plan to do with the notes later? Will you be studying off of them extensively? Or maybe you’re just taking notes to stay focused, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll look through them after?

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47/times a day

...is the number we check our phones  on a daily basis. 

And nearly double that if we’re between the ages of 18 and 24. 

We’re no longer weighed down by having to retain trivial data, since all the information we need is one click away, and so we are left with greater cognitive space and with a hard time process...

We’re no longer weighed down by having to retain trivial data, since all the information we need is one click away, and so we are left with greater cognitive space and with a hard time processing the information we take in to form memories.

2 kinds of memories
  • explicit, created through conscious experience;
  • implicit, which form when past experiences affect us, sometimes without our knowledge.

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