An Intelligent Memory: How to Develop One and How All Aspects of Studying Benefit
See Reviews of Book Recommended In this Article:
Moonwalking WIth einstein: The art and science
of remembering everything
For years, I have been interested in the topic of memory, and through reading and practice I have significantly developed my memorization skills. When people learn of my passion for memory, the sometimes ask why I bother learning so much about it, and work so hard to improve it. So I can remember names and phone numbers? To remember facts for exams? Though it certainly does come in handy for straightforward tasks like this, the benefits to an exceptionally trained memory are much more nuanced and extensive. Remembering thorough details about books read in a literature course helped me naturally form more connections and insights as I did the new readings, leading to more advanced essays and in class contributions. Remembering formulas and equations in mathematics and sciences courses prevented them from interrupting my thought processes and allowed me to focus on developing fundamental understandings of the topics, not on what to plug in where. And of course, on those nights where cramming was a necessity, I always thanked myself for the work I previously put into my memorization abilities. Since I first began studying memory in high school, I felt that memory helped me excel in all aspects of my studies, and I strongly encourage you to get your feet wet in the exploration of your mind’s amazing abilities to store information.
Improving Your Memory
There are plenty of great ways to learn how to master your memory, and it can be done gradually with just a small time commitment. Entire sites dedicated to the topic, classes, or my recommended way of doing, reading a book on memory like my personal favorite Moonwalking With Einstein, are all good ways to develop the skill. (For an argument for books being the best way to pick up skills and improve yourself, see this article). To demonstrate the power studying memory can have, I present at the end of this article a few of the many great memorization methods out there. Try these, and I assure you it will motivate you to pursue this incredible skill further. It just takes one book or a few articles to set you on the path, and from there incorporating your learning into your studying and routine will lead to constant natural improvement. In addition to this, supplements can also help by ensuring your brain forms as many neural connections as possible when you develop these memory skills. I personally do take some, and there is a page discussing some of the best ones here on the site.
Using Memory to Boost More Than Your Memory
The primary piece of advice I have is this: remember connections, not just isolated events. When you see something new in your readings, your math textbook, or anywhere in your studies that relates to something you’ve previously seen, remember the two things in relation to each other, using whatever memory techniques you find to be your favorites. This skill is more complex, and you should first develop a grasp on memorizing information effectively before this will start to click. However, keep in mind as you start learning about and implementing new techniques that this should be the ultimate goal of your efforts. Your efforts towards improving memory will have payoffs immediately, but the power of memory will truly become clear once you begin to form a web of connections and memories. It will lead to unique and impressive insights, and improve your learning abilities, creativity, and more. I am planning to write an article focusing on this connection forming sometime in the future, so check back as you start working on your memorization skills. (Sign up for the email list to get notifications of new articles.)
A few of the best memory tools and tricks:
Associate Information With Vivid Images: The title of the book I referenced earlier, Moonwalking With Einstein, is a reference to this ancient memorization technique.
It is best demonstrated through an example:
Say I want to memorize that the word “replete” means “full.” I would start by breaking down the word into parts that sound like something else, either explicitly or just to some extent. For this word, “repl” sounds kind of like “rep’ll” as in “rep will”. And “ete” sounds like “eat.” So I have these two things that have some meaning to me. Now, I must create an image where these parts and the definition of the word are both present. How about a fat senator with a huge plate of doughnuts in front of him, looking super full (food around the mouth, hands on his belly popping out of his shirt). There is a speech bubble above him as he turns to a butler. It reads, “I can’t possibly eat anymore, I am replete! Bring it over to the House of Representatives, I’m sure some Rep’ll eat it. That’s it. When you create your own image that works well for you, everytime you hear the word, you will see the components: in this case, “Rep’ll” and “eat”. It will remind you of the overstuffed Senator pushing donuts away from him and saying some rep will eat it. And then you’ll have the definition, full, right there.
As you can see, it can seem like a stretch and it will be difficult at first to come up with ones quickly. But with practice, it becomes much easier and fluid. There is no limit to how many random weird images your mind can remember (I still remember the images I used to remember hundreds of vocab words for the SAT), and by practicing this memory technique you’ll be able to quickly memorize all kinds of information in classes from English to Mathematics.
You can remember huge pieces of information, not just words, by utilizing this approach to remember key parts from which the rest will follow. This method was used by orators in ancient Rome and Greece to memorize hours of speech. Picture a house that you are familiar with. Imagine walking in the front door. In that first room, or foyer, place a ridiculous image like that described above that helps you remember the first part of the information right in the room. Continue through the house, filling it with images to help you remember the information in a logical order. Now, to recall the information at a later point, return to the house in your mind, and walk through the rooms. This skill becomes immensely powerful when you work on it.
Need to remember the chronological order of historical events? A list of common integrals for calculus? (Keep in mind that using image association in math takes more practice than other subjects). This technique is a great way to remember lists in a set order by expanding upon the association technique discussed above. It involves associating an image with the numbers 0-9. Then, insert this image into the image that you conjure up to associate with the information. It is well demonstrated by this example from AcademicTips.org.
Example List, and How You Would Memorize It Using This Image Scheme:
These techniques are just scratching the surface of the powerful ways you can unlock the potential of your memory. I hope I have set you on the path to developing your memory further, as it is something that has benefited me immensely in the years since I began.
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