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    11 Methods for Improving Your Memory

    Do you ever wish you could improve your memory? Check out research-proven strategies that can boost your memory and help you remember more.


    11 Methods for Improving Your Memory

    By Kendra Cherry Updated on September 30, 2019

    Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW

    Is it really possible to improve your memory? If you've ever found yourself forgetting where you left your keys or blanking out information on important tests then you have probably wished that your memory was a bit better. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to help improve your memory.

    Obviously, utilizing some sort of reminder system can help. Setting up an online calendar that sends reminders to your phone helps you keep track of all those appointments and meetings. Creating daily to-do lists can ensure that you don't forget important tasks that need to be completed.

    But what about all the important information that you need to actually cement into your long-term memory? It will take some effort and even involve tweaking or dramatically changing your normal study routine, but there are a number of strategies you can utilize to get more out of your memory.

    Before your next big exam, be sure to check out some of these tried and tested techniques for improving memory. These 11 research-proven strategies can effectively improve memory, enhance recall, and increase retention of information.


    Focus Your Attention

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    Attention is one of the major components of memory. In order for information to move from your short-term memory into your long-term memory, you need to actively attend to this information. Try to study in a place free of distractions such as television, music, and other diversions.

    Getting rid of distractions might be a challenge, especially if you are surrounded by boisterous roommates or noisy children.

    Set aside a short period of time to be alone.

    Ask your roommates to give you some space or ask your partner to take the kids for an hour so you can focus on your work.

    2 Avoid Cramming

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    Studying materials over a number of sessions gives you the time you need to adequately process information. Research has continuously shown that students who study regularly remember the material far better than those who do all of their studying in one marathon session.1


    Structure and Organize

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    Researchers have found that information is organized in memory in related clusters.2 You can take advantage of this by structuring and organizing the materials you're studying. Try grouping similar concepts and terms together, or make an outline of your notes and textbook readings to help group related concepts.


    Utilize Mnemonic Devices

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    Mnemonic devices are a technique often used by students to aid in recall. A mnemonic is simply a way to remember information. For example, you might associate a term you need to remember with a common item that you are very familiar with. The best mnemonics are those that utilize positive imagery, humor, or novelty.

    Come up with a rhyme, song, or joke to help remember a specific segment of information.


    Elaborate and Rehearse

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    In order to recall information, you need to encode what you are studying into long-term memory. One of the most effective encoding techniques is known as elaborative rehearsal.

    An example of this technique would be to read the definition of a key term, study the definition of that term, and then read a more detailed description of what that term means. After repeating this process a few times, you'll probably notice that recalling the information is much easier.

    6 Visualize Concepts

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    Many people benefit greatly from visualizing the information they study. Pay attention to the photographs, charts, and other graphics in your textbooks. If you don't have visual cues to help, try creating your own. Draw charts or figures in the margins of your notes or use highlighters or pens in different colors to group related ideas in your written study materials.

    Source : www.verywellmind.com

    Chapter 7 Inquizitive Flashcards

    Start studying Chapter 7 Inquizitive. Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools.

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    An experiment estimated the duration of _______ storage by showing participants a block of letters and then asking them to recall one row, specified by a ____. The experiment determined that participants very briefly remembered ____ of the letters, but after roughly ___________ second recalled only about half the letters

    Click card to see definition 👆

    1. Sensory 2. Tone 3. Most 4. One-third of a

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    Which of the following are characteristics of long-term storage?

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    1. It has almost limitless capacity

    2. It is relatively permanent

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    Terms in this set (59)

    An experiment estimated the duration of _______ storage by showing participants a block of letters and then asking them to recall one row, specified by a ____. The experiment determined that participants very briefly remembered ____ of the letters, but after roughly ___________ second recalled only about half the letters

    1. Sensory 2. Tone 3. Most 4. One-third of a

    Which of the following are characteristics of long-term storage?

    1. It has almost limitless capacity

    2. It is relatively permanent

    Forming a memory 1. Hippocampus 2. Temporal lobes

    Forming and recalling a memory

    1. Auditory cortical areas

    2. Visual cortical areas

    What strategies can increase one's short term or long term memory span?

    1. Using working memory

    2. Elaboration rehearsal

    3. chunking

    Caroline recently changed her computer password and could not recall her old password

    Retroactive interference

    Chad could picture the movie actress and the first letter of her name, but he temporarily forgot her name

    Tip of the younger phenomenon

    Erin took four years of French in high school. On her first year college exam in Italian, she could only recall the French words

    Proactive interference

    Keaton increased his recall when learning the structures of the brain by visualizing them as different rooms of a house

    Method of loci

    Tara always did her homework in her classroom and performed well on a subsequent essay exam

    Context dependent

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    The enhancement of a group's prevailing tendencies occurs when people within a group discuss an idea that most of them either favor or oppose. What is this tendency called? a. Group polarization. b. Deindividuation. c. The just-world phenomenon. d. Discrimination. e. Categorization.

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    After overcoming severe anxiety and dealing with some physical health issues, Grace finds herself having a greater appreciation for life and a sense of increased personal strength. Her psychotherapist identifies this as a. transference. b. resistance. c. posttraumatic growth. d. humanism. e. behavior modification.

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    Dissociative identity disorder (DID) is among the most controversial of all psychological disorders. Briefly describe the disorder. Then, provide one piece of evidence that supports the existence of the disorder and one piece of evidence that would indicate the disorder might not be genuine.

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    What are the differences between long

    In the recent literature there has been considerable confusion about the three types of memory: long-term, short-term, and working memory. This chapter strives to reduce that confusion and makes up-to-date assessments of these types of memory. Long- and ...

    Prog Brain Res. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2009 Mar 18.

    Published in final edited form as:

    Prog Brain Res. 2008; 169: 323–338.

    doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(07)00020-9

    PMCID: PMC2657600 NIHMSID: NIHMS84208 PMID: 18394484

    What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory?

    Nelson Cowan*

    Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer

    The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Prog Brain Res

    See other articles in PMC that cite the published article.

    Go to:


    In the recent literature there has been considerable confusion about the three types of memory: long-term, short-term, and working memory. This chapter strives to reduce that confusion and makes up-to-date assessments of these types of memory. Long- and short-term memory could differ in two fundamental ways, with only short-term memory demonstrating (1) temporal decay and (2) chunk capacity limits. Both properties of short-term memory are still controversial but the current literature is rather encouraging regarding the existence of both decay and capacity limits. Working memory has been conceived and defined in three different, slightly discrepant ways: as short-term memory applied to cognitive tasks, as a multi-component system that holds and manipulates information in short-term memory, and as the use of attention to manage short-term memory. Regardless of the definition, there are some measures of memory in the short term that seem routine and do not correlate well with cognitive aptitudes and other measures (those usually identified with the term “working memory”) that seem more attention demanding and do correlate well with these aptitudes. The evidence is evaluated and placed within a theoretical framework depicted in Fig. 1.

    Fig. 1

    A depiction of the theoretical modeling framework. Modified from Cowan (1988) and refined in further work by Cowan (1995, 1999, 2005).

    Keywords: attention, capacity of working memory, control of attention, decay of short-term memory, focus of attention, long-term memory, short-term memory, working memory

    Go to:

    Historical roots of a basic scientific question

    How many phases of a memory are there? In a naïve view of memory, it could be made all of one cloth. Some people have a good ability to capture facts and events in memory, whereas others have less such ability. Yet, long before there were true psychological laboratories, a more careful observation must have shown that there are separable aspects of memory. An elderly teacher might be seen relating old lessons as vividly as he ever did, and yet it might be evident that his ability to capture the names of new students, or to recall which student made what comment in an ongoing conversation, has diminished over the years.

    The scientific study of memory is usually traced back to Hermann Ebbinghaus (1885/1913 translation), who examined his own acquisition and forgetting of new information in the form of series of nonsense syllables tested at various periods upto 31 days. Among many important observations, Ebbinghaus noticed that he often had a “first fleeting grasp … of the series in moments of special concentration” (p. 33) but that this immediate memory did not ensure that the series had been memorized in a way that would allow its recall later on. Stable memorization sometimes required further repetitions of the series. Soon afterward, James (1890) proposed a distinction between primary memory, the small amount of information held as the trailing edge of the conscious present, and secondary memory, the vast body of knowledge stored over a lifetime. The primary memory of James is like the first fleeting grasp of Ebbinghaus.

    The Industrial Revolution made some new demands on what James (1890) called primary memory. In the 1850s, telegraph operators had to remember and interpret rapid series of dots and dashes conveyed acoustically. In 1876, the telephone was invented. Three years later, operators in Lowell, Massachusetts started using telephone numbers for more than 200 subscribers so that substitute operators could be more easily trained if the town’s four regular operators succumbed to a raging measles epidemic. This use of telephone numbers, complemented by a word prefix, of course spread. (The author’s telephone number in 1957 was Whitehall 2–6742; the number is still assigned, albeit as a seven-digit number.) Even before the book by Ebbinghaus, Nipher (1878) reported on the serial position curve obtained among the digits in logarithms that he tried to recall. The nonsense syllables that Ebbinghaus had invented as a tool can be seen to have acquired more ecological validity in an industrial age with expanding information demands, perhaps highlighting the practical importance of primary memory in daily life. Primary memory seems taxed as one is asked to keep in mind aspects of an unfamiliar situation, such as names, places, things, and ideas that one has not encountered before.

    Yet, the subjective experience of a difference between primary and secondary memory does not automatically guarantee that these types of memory separately contribute to the science of remembering. Researchers from a different perspective have long hoped that they could write a single equation, or a single set of principles at least, that would capture all of memory, from the very immediate to the very long-term. McGeoch (1932) illustrated that forgetting over time was not simply a matter of an inevitable decay of memory but rather of interference during the retention interval; one could find situations in which memory improved, rather than diminish, over time. From this perspective, one might view what appeared to be forgetting from primary memory as the profound effect of interference from other items on memory for any one item, with interference effects continuing forever but not totally destroying a given memory. This perspective has been maintained and developed over the years by a steady line of researchers believing in the unity of memory, including, among others, Melton (1963), Bjork and Whitten (1974), Wickelgren (1974), Crowder (1982, 1993), Glenberg and Swanson (1986), Brown et al. (2000), Nairne (2002), Neath and Surprenant (2003), and Lewandowsky et al. (2004).

    Source : www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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