Memory and Learning

Memory: Our Personal Filing Cabinet

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Memory can be described as a portable filing cabinet full of individual memory folders in which information is stored away, and retrieved when needed. Memory is the process in which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.

We say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Nevertheless, scientists have discovered that this old proverb simply isn’t true. The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways.

Many of us complain about forgetting where we left our keys or blanking out information on important tests. I bet this has even happened to you. Fortunately, there are many of things that we can do to help improve our memory.

Active learning was very popular during the 1990s. Ellis stated that “action is great for the memory”. He also suggests that one way to study for a science exam is testing.

Another memory technique is to create pictures. For instance, when studying math and science use pictures to figure out what the problem is asking for.

Ellis supposed the idea of repetition. According to him, “repetition blazes a trail of pathway of your brain, making the information easier to find”. He suggests repeating a word or a concept at least five times.

Mnemonics is a technique used to recall something. It is used to learn lists such as grocery list. There are several types of mnemonics. Acronym which is an invented combination of letters with each letter acting as a cue to an idea you need to remember. An example is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA. It is used in English to memorize conjunctions, conjunctions are For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So = FANBOYS. To memorize the colors of the rainbow: the phrase "Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain”. To memorize the names of the planets, use the planetary mnemonic: "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos"

I used to self-test my knowledge every week by answering the questions, vocabulary and exercises located at the end of each chapter. This exercise helped me to see which areas I needed to concentrate my studies. This exercise also facilitated the retrieval of information when I needed.

Distributed practice also works. Distributed practice, is a learning strategy, where practice is broken up into a number of short sessions. According to Schwartz, Son, Kornell, Finn, distributed practice may be the most powerful method by which people can improve their memory without changing the amount of time spent studying. When I was in college, I used to study for forty-five minutes without interruptions and took fifteen minutes to rest.

Jill Spiegel, author of “How to Talk to Anyone About Anything”, admitted that everyone struggles with remembering or recalling names. There some tricks that can help. For instance, Benjamin Levy, author of “Remember Every Name Every Time”, recommends the FACE method: “focus, ask, comment and employ.” Focus: Lock in on the person’s face. Ask: Inquire which version he prefers (“Is it Ted or Theodore?”). Comment: Say something about the name and cross-reference it in your head (“My college roommate’s name was Ted.”) Employ: Put the name to use–”Nice seeing you, Ted”–to drive it home. Another technique is to turn someone’s name into an image that you can remember. For example, when you meet Robert, think of a Robert De Niro.

Remember, to practice retrieval means to learn by recalling information from your memory. During recall, the brain "replays" a pattern of neural activity that was originally generated in response to a particular event, echoing the brain's perception of the real event. In fact, there is no real solid distinction between the act of remembering and the act of thinking.

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