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Memory is a tricky thing. Science has yet to reveal how it fully works. And there are many factors that can affect it. In general, a memory is information that the brain can recall, and this ability has a variety of applications. “Memorization techniques can obviously help students recall information quickly and effectively for exams,” says Patrick C. Brown, founder of Occam Education, “but it also forces students to become more disciplined. Techniques, such as spaced repetition, require students to revisit material at increasingly longer intervals, and structure their academic/personal calendars accordingly.”
Meanwhile, in your post-grad life, effective recall can really help your career. Chris Tobias, author and founder of SchoolSkills.net, explains, “Remembering the names, history, and life details of your co-workers and business associates will greatly help you succeed in your post-grad professional life. How many kids does your boss have? Where did your co-worker go for their last vacation? These facts will help you connect with people in conversation, build trust, and create great working relationships. Remembering business facts — such as how many units you need to sell this month — will help you handle the ‘hallway conversations’ with expertise and professionalism. This also builds trust and makes you a valuable member of the team, and to clients.”
Method of Loci
One of the little known but wildly effective memory techniques is the Method of Loci. Used all the way back in ancient Rome, this is a mnemonic device that’s based on building relationships between spatial memories and the items to be memorized. How does it work? Basically, scientific research has shown that you can improve memory by associating something you need to remember with a place you’re familiar with. Because of the way your brain works (especially your hippocampus), associating something with a place, supercharges your ability to recall info. This is fairly easy when memorizing a single piece of info. But this process is awesome when you’re trying to memorize a list of related facts.
To prove it, try out this exercise:
1. Grab a deck of cards and pull out one random card for each room in your house/apartment (bathrooms and kitchens included).
2. Place the cards in any order you like, then assign each card to one room. Write down the order on a piece of paper.
3. In your mind, imagine yourself walking through your home, and placing each card inside an assigned room (preferably on a flat surface, e.g. a table, chair, bed, etc.) in the order you assigned to those cards.
4. Repeat step three a couple of times, walking through your home in your mind, setting the cards as planned out in step two.
5. Open your eyes, shuffle the cards, then turn them over so you can’t see their faces. Now walk through your home (in your mind), and see how many of the cards you can remember in the order you originally set out. Match your answers to the order you wrote down in step three. Chances are you’ll be surprised by how many cards you remember correctly (and in the right order)! And as always, the more you practice, the better you’ll become.
“Wait, hold on a second,” you say. “I don’t have enough rooms in my place to match the number of things I need to remember?” Well, if that’s the case, you can always “place your cards” in different parts of a single room (e.g. try placing one card on your desk, another on your dresser, one inside your closet, etc.). You can also try walking down your local street, and “placing your cards” in each of the different stores along said street.
Lifestyle habits to improve memory
Brain foods include complex carbohydrates, fibre, and lean protein. Examples: Matcha (green tea), coffee, grass-fed beef, wild salmon, blueberries & acai berries, cacao beans, greek yogurt, quinoa, eggs
By keeping your mind engaged with new experiences, you train it to remain more open to and absorb new information. Examples: Listen to music, mental exercises (e.g. anagrams), puzzle games, stimulate five senses
Your mind needs regular breaks in order to properly absorb new information. Examples: Rest, exercise, walk breaks