Better Memory Improvement Techniques

Memory is the ability to store AND retrieve information. It is an indispensable part of high academic achievement.

better memory

Improve Memory with Memory Techniques

The secret to better memory is better encoding. Visually linked images are the easiest way to remember things.

Memory Mnemonics

Mnemonics memory tricks work by shuffling arbitrary facts into organized meaningful sequences. There are three easy mnemonics techniques.

Acronym Memory Technique

This memory improvement technique works by encoding the capital letters of lists into a word. E.g. ROYGBIV = the colors of the rainbow red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. And HOMES = the Great Lakes huron, ontario, michigan, erie and superior. Not every list is suitable, and you may need to change the order of a list in order for it to work or add vowels.

Peg Memory Technique

The peg memory system of memory improvement is a very powerful way to remember random numbers by encoding them into linked images i.e. stories. To start, assign every number 0 to 9 with an image representation e.g.

  1. knight
  2. dragon
  3. shield
  4. sailing ship
  5. a hook
  6. battering ram
  7. flag
  8. catapult
  9. troll

1492 - the year Columbus discovered the New World - becomes the adventure story of a dashing Knight on a Sailing Ship who spies an ugly Troll on the shore who hurls a Dragon spear at him.

You could just as easily use 1=James Bond, 2= PPK handgun, 3=brass knuckles, etc OR 1=beautiful princess, 2=magic pony, 3=cotton candy cloud... whatever your flavor.

The key to this technique is to link objects that look a bit like the numbers you want to recall and use the same representations consistently in sequential stories.

Phonetic Number Recall

This system also assigns numbers but to letters which are then connected into words (real or nonsensical) by adding vowels. You remember the word to remember the number.

  1. T or D
  2. N
  3. M
  4. R
  5. L
  6. J, Sh, Ch, soft G
  7. K or C, hard G
  8. F, V, Ph
  9. P, B

1492 becomes T-R-P/B-N. Add vowels to make 'TuRPeeN' (and repeat the nonsensical word until remembered) or 'TuRBaN' and imagine Columbus wearing a turban. This is an auditory memory encoding technique for the first, and visual for the latter.

StudyCram Cell Phone "Dial Memory"™ Trick

An easy memory trick for numbers is our cell phone technique. To start, look at the alphanumeric keys on your cell phone. Ignore the vowels. Represent 1 with a phone booth and 0 with the image of an operator. Combine letters with any vowels to create imaginary words or memorable images from the consonants e.g. 1492 becomes the mental image of a phone booth with a hawk (h-A-w-c) perched on it - a visual example. To remember 1776 the US declaration of independence could translate to a phone booth with the auditory hook "s-A-r-O-n" . Easy.

Method of Loci Memory Technique (Memory Palaces)

The method of Loci memory trick uses a familiar path to place objects to be remembered along the way in your mind. Recalling the list of items is as easy as taking a virtual stroll back down the path.

The ancient Greeks used this memory technique to remember their stage lines for debates and plays among other things. It is the origin for the figures of speech "in the first place," "in the second place," and so on.

To use this method of memory you begin with your list of items, points, or objects to memorize, and then recall a familiar path, neighborhood street, or office buildings rooms and begin a mental walk through of the chosen area. As you stroll you drop the items to remember along the path or in the rooms etc as you go.

This memory technique lent itself well to the large palaces and castles of medieval times with many rooms and nooks to place imagined items. Here It was known as memory palaces.

Using Memory Mnemonics for Better Memory

You should 'memorize' all the above memory tricks as each memory task suits itself to one method than the other. When you have something new to learn that's not sticky you simply apply the memory technique best suited or easiest for that task.

Better Memory Exercises Books

Just like going to the gym to exercise your way to better muscles, your memory can also be exercised better, and from home. The following are the best books on improving memory and cognition for students through mental exercises I've come across to date:

Super Memory Super Student is an easy to read book full of easy to apply memory tricks that work with very little effort to memorize facts and formulas in college using mnemonics. Einstein Factor is a fascinating system for improving your intelligence by integrating your senses which has been proven to work in studies done on college students. Mind Gym is a terrific collection of mental fitness exercises and ways of shaping up your thinking. Moonwalking with Einstein is the best introduction to the memory method of loci and Memory Palaces on the market.

Improve Memory with Memory Exercises

Memory Training Exercise 1

There's a yoga technique for developing photographic memory by exercising memory concentration. Legend tells of old yogi masters who could recite their entire historic volumes from their heads! One of their sacred techniques for photographic memory is the "Candle Technique."

This memory exercise forces you to concentrate on your visual cortex strengthening your visual photographic memory pathway. To start, place a candle in front of you in a dark room. Sit comfortably in one spot and stare at the candle for 1 minute. Do not let your eyes drift. Then close and cover your eyes. You will see a bright after image of the flame still. For 2 minutes try to keep your attention on the flame image and force it to stay in the center of your vision without moving. Then open your eyes and let it go. This photographic memory exercise forces you develop visual concentration which is critical to getting a better memory.

Memory Training Exercise 2

Another powerful memory yoga memory technique is used to recapture a lost memory. This time, first think about what you wanted to remember. Then close your eyes and imagine a candle flame as vividly as you can, and again keep it stable in your minds eye. After concentrating intensely for 15-30 seconds then let the image go and leave your mind blank and see if what you wanted to remember pops into your head. If not, repeat.

StudyCram "Flash Back"™ Photographic Memory Method

For those of us with no time to meditate or construct memory palaces is there a way to simply advance our native memory without fancy constructions? We've developed a simple way to exercise and develop photographic memory on your way to class.

The system is simple. As you're on your way to class every minute or until your tired glance quickly at something passing by, look away, and then try to remember what you saw as vividly as you can. This tricks your brain into paying attention and storing more of what you see. Your short term memory exists because your brain doesn't want to store everything you come across. But it doesn't know what you'll need and what to discard at any given moment. So it chucks everything each moment into a temporary storage bin. If you don't recall it within a couple minutes your brain figures its useless data and dumps it to prevent clutter. By asking back for the contents of these bins before dump time your brain automatically starts hanging onto them longer in anticipation that you may need them transferring them into long term storage. It also tries to make the bins bigger as you demand more details. This practice over time forces your memory to become more effective. And don't worry, you can't fill up your memory in one lifetime anyway, so don't feel badly for it. Push it to the max!

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Article Last Updated: August 31 2014
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