A good memory is the key to a comfortable and fulfilling life at any age. And even a slight decrease in it can be very unpleasant, because automatically it can lead to problems in work, personal relationships, self-esteem. In this article, we will talk about different methods of improving memory.
Principles of the memorization mechanism
To understand how memorization works, you need to have an idea about what features of our brain affect the recording and storage of data. Recently, one can often hear a comparison of a person’s memory and his brain with some kind of super-powerful computer, but this is a rather erroneous understanding. The computer is static, but the human brain is constantly changing, besides, our memory and other functions depend on gender, age, race, ethnic group, upbringing.
The human brain is the most energy-consuming organ. With a relatively small own weight, it consumes up to a quarter of all energy if we are engaged in intense mental stress, and up to 12% of all energy if we are quietly lounging in a horizontal position. Due to this energy consumption, the brain as a whole is unfavorable for our body, and without extreme necessity it is not activated.
The brain itself is constantly running in resource-saving mode, which is why forgetting occurs: the unnecessary and unused must be removed.
Nerve cells are directly responsible for memory.
In order for information to be stored for a long time, energy support is also needed. Her brain saves too. Therefore, different information is stored in memory for different times, hence the names such as long-term and short-term memory. What is forgotten faster is what is not updated, not repeated, not in demand by the «owner».
The more time passes from the moment of memorization, the more information is lost. But the rate of memory decline is inversely proportional to time. For example, you have learned a poem. In an hour you will forget half, in a day — only two-thirds, and in a month the loss will be up to 4/5.
Memorization happens in the following way. A person is dealing with an event. The sense organs supply all the necessary information, the nerve cells transmit it, the brain analyzes it. The decision has been made, the situation is over. But our central nervous system retains the so-called residual trace — the path along which the nerve impulses passed during the solution of the problem. If the next time the information goes along the same “beaten” path, then new synaptic connections will arise, the information will be fixed and remembered. Each time forming a new path is energy-consuming, and therefore it is extremely unprofitable for the brain and the body as a whole.
Any information is temporarily stored. The unnecessary is erased over time, and the necessary goes into the category of long-term memory. At the same time, the memory can be distorted, transformed in such a way that there will be nothing in common with what really happened once. The data is saved, but what it will be is a big question. The thing is that neurons renew connections, create new ones, change old ones, and spontaneous formations can occur up to 3 times in 3-5 days. If the network is not supported by new information passing along the old path, then forgetting and distortion is inevitable.
Short-term memory is formed on the basis of already existing connections. Signals circulate through the same channels. The process needs a high level of energy supply, and therefore there is a decrease in the load in the form of forgetting. If we need information for life, new connections are formed. This is long term memory.
Wear and tear of the nervous system over the years, stress and frantic pace of life, bad habits, injuries lead to a decrease in memory, a decrease in its volume. In most cases, a person can help himself. To do this, there are different methods and exercises.
Simple tasks for different types of memory
Different types of memory need different methods and approaches. But everyone can learn to remember better, develop their abilities, increase the amount of memory on their own and at home, regardless of their age, gender and social status.
For long term
For long-term relationships to be maintained, repetition is needed. Sometimes it’s enough just to repeat what has been learned from time to time.. It is useful to learn how to retell in detail the books read, films and performances watched. And not only after watching or reading, but also after a few months.
The best method for long-term memorization is conscious restoration of synaptic connections. Important and significant information should be repeated by a person daily for the first three days, then a week later, a month later, and after six months.
Such a simple approach will help you easily memorize even complex and voluminous arrays of information for a long time. But not all of us can afford such a long time. For example, a student has to memorize information a few days before the test and sincerely hope that important professional information will be preserved for a long time. In this case, it is recommended to train according to the following scheme:
- we repeat the material immediately after familiarization;
- repeat a second time after 20 minutes;
- for the third time we repeat the information after 8 hours;
- the fourth repetition occurs exactly one day later, preferably before going to bed at night.
During these days, you should not load yourself with additional information that is not directly related to the subject being studied. By overloading yourself, you are preventing the master data from being fixed securely and quickly.
For short term
We need short-term memory to remember where the keys were put in the morning or remember the phone number to write it down. Short-term memory includes tactile and taste sensations, olfactory nuances, visual images, and auditory memory.
Our short-term storage is limited in size. For example, an adult can remember up to 9 elements at the same time, and about 5 are available to a child. The volume depends not only on age, but also on genetic characteristics, it’s just that someone has a better memory from birth. For training, you should use methods such as Fibonacci technique. On the way to work, mentally compose a series of numbers in which each next will be the sum of the previous two — 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc.
If you have a free moment at work or in a group of classmates, why not do a simple but effective group exercise called the “Paragraph”? All he needs is a book. Open it on any page and read the paragraph. The task of the listeners and the reader is to remember and then reproduce each word.
It is impossible to train short-term memory without strengthening visual. Lay out a dozen of any items in front of you. Give yourself a minute to look at them carefully and remember the details. Then cover the items with something opaque or sweep them all at once in a drawer. Mentally repeat everything you remember about each of them. Start with simple items, but gradually use more and more complex things.
A simple and effective exercise was once proposed by the famous Pythagoras.
You don’t need to do anything special, only in the evening before going to bed you should set aside a quarter of an hour to remember in detail all the events of the past day: who did you meet, what did you talk about, what was the person wearing, what color were his buttons, etc. The starting point should be awakening, and then follow the order without disturbing the chronological sequence of events.
Among the popular ways is often called the study of a foreign language. But foreign words and expressions are unlikely to be remembered if the memory is bad. Therefore, it is better to start her training with easier methods that will prepare you for complicated tasks, which, of course, include a foreign language.
All popular and widely advertised methods have common features that you need to know about before choosing a program or technique.
- They are not universal and equally effective for everyone.. Even effective methods help some to memorize quickly and easily, while others are long and difficult.
- There are no techniques that would magically teach you the development of memory of all kinds and all its processes. Some exercises are aimed only at the speed of memorization, others — at the duration of information storage, and others — at the ability to reproduce. It is best to choose several techniques that you can combine.
In most cases, you have to select tasks individually.
A person has a lot to try and choose the most comfortable tasks for himself, the exercises that will be most effective in his case. Let’s see what you can choose for independent training.
To improve your attention, memorize as many small details as possible, it is recommended Aivazovsky method. The famous marine painter, as his biographers assure, painted his paintings in this way: not on the seashore in a storm, but at home, using only his own memories of the details of the seascapes he saw.
Choose any drawings. Start with one. For five minutes, consider the picture with concentration, carefully, trying to remember it more accurately. Then close your eyes and mentally reproduce as many details as possible from what you can remember.
Over time, take more and more complex drawings and paintings, try to fix in your memory the details of the images of real people, landscapes, interiors.
By creating associations, you increase the likelihood of memorization, because images are most clearly fixed in memory. This will help mnemonic techniques. Ask someone to write on paper a few words that are not connected by semantic and semantic connections, for example: “fish”, “sky”, “doctor”, “computer”, “oak”, “cake”, etc. Exactly one minute study the list, and then reproduce it from memory as accurately as possible. With the help of mnemonics, words and images are better remembered than numbers and numbers.
Repetition of information
Whatever you learn, practice repetition. Learn poems by heart more often, even if you are not a schoolboy or student for a long time, try to memorize the words of your favorite songs, periodically repeat them to yourself. The repetition of pleasant poetic quatrains and favorite songs evokes a lively emotional response.
When simple verses come easily, you need to complicate your task and try to learn pieces of prose that are not rhythmic. The most difficult level is memorizing and repeating by heart fragments of technical and scientific literature that are not directly related to your activity: a doctor can learn a couple of pages from a textbook on metal science, an engineer can learn a fragment of a prescription guide, a toy seller can learn a fragment of a safety manual for civil aviation pilots .
Gymnastics for fingers
It is believed that fine motor skills improve memory and make the memorization process more efficient. Please note that during verbal communication, many try to hold objects in their hands: a rosary, a pen. Use this approach. When studying something very difficult, do a warm-up for your fingers at the same time, rub the pads of your fingers, tap them in different rhythms on the surface of the table or the opposite palm.
They were invented and presented to mankind by the German psychotherapist Schulte. Tables are designed to increase visual memorization. They come in different sizes, for starters, you can use very small ones. Tables are arbitrarily filled with numbers and letters, there is no sequence and relationship between characters. For a few minutes, carefully look at the table, and then close it and try to reproduce what exactly is hidden in a particular cell.
Constant training allows you to remember a large amount of information, increase the receptacle of your visual memory. Today, the situation is simplified by the presence of special online simulators.
You can also use special mobile applications as a simulator — this is a great way to spend time on the road in public transport.
It was created not by esotericists or fans of everything otherworldly, but by real scientists from the British Northumbrian University. They found that the aroma of rosemary in the background increased the ability to quickly and reliably remember complex new information.
It seems that the British borrowed the method from Shakespeare. His Ophelia in «Hamlet» described this method in detail in one of her famous monologues: «Here is rosemary, for memory …».
Writing and pronunciation of words in reverse
This exercise is designed so that you can quickly learn to reproduce information, to receive it from the storages of your own memory. The faster the speed of writing or speaking, the better. You can start by reading the alphabet backwards — from «Z» to «A».
An unexpected effect was discovered by American scientists studying the influence of meditative techniques on human health. In addition to reducing stress, normalizing the internal state, pressure, they found that regular meditation significantly strengthens and increases a person’s ability to short-term memorization. The discovery was explained simply: meditative practices force a person to train concentration. They also named the minimum time required to improve memory through meditation — only 9 minutes a day.
Lead hand change
Try turning yourself left-handed for five minutes. Take notes with your left hand, and not your usual right, sweep with your “uncomfortable” hand, hold a computer mouse with it. This helps to effectively turn on and engage the opposite hemisphere of the brain and stimulates not only memory, but also thought processes.
Receptions for everyday life
Effective methods do not have to be discovered by scientists and scientifically proven. Since ancient times, some simple «everyday» tricks have been known that can be used constantly in your everyday life. They do not require any preliminary preparation and the allocation of special time for classes.
You can not write a shopping list, but keep it in your head, tell your household about a book or movie you read, remember brand names.
Making lists and plans is a great way to manage time, but lists tend to have the opposite effect when it comes to improving memory.
On the street
Try to memorize street names, location and house numbers on your usual route. Change familiar routes more often, walk new roads, always trying to remember the details.
Read the opposite of the names of shops and shopping centers. Try to mentally keep count of all the passers-by you meet according to a certain filter. For example, today count only pensioners, tomorrow women in red, the day after tomorrow men with beards, etc.
When doing something, try to concentrate your attention on only one thing, giving it all your emotional strength at a given time. Practice remembering the events of the day, not only in a clear chronological order, but also in reverse order, starting with the last task completed and ending with the morning chores.
Sit less in front of the TV, move more, walk, play sports, properly organize proper sleep and normal nutrition without starvation or overeating.
How often should you exercise your brain?
The answer to this question is obvious — you need to do this constantly, regularly. A decrease in mental activity leads to atrophy of a number of processes, a decrease in their quality. Training «raids» also will not give a particularly significant effect. Even if there is no time at all, use any free minutes to apply at least simple, everyday methods.
Recommendations for the elderly
Age-related memory decline is explained by various factors: from genetic characteristics to general health. But one thing is certain: systematic studies allow older people to keep a sober mind and reliable memory longer. Of course, age-related changes in blood vessels, blood supply to the brain, loss of elasticity of blood vessels are difficult to correct, but in most cases, the effectiveness of classes depends not only on medications and medical support, but also on a person’s own desire to remember everything.
To improve memory, older people generally need to take care of creating optimal conditions under which they will have a clear daily routine. There should be no physical overstrain and traumatic emotional shocks.
Useful physical activity, not forbidden by the doctor to a particular patient, walks.
An elderly person should certainly add foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish, to the diet. Useful for memory will be blueberry juice, wheat bran, nuts, fresh tomatoes, honey in the absence of contraindications.
Under such conditions, special mental exercises are also needed, implying a conscious effort of memory. In retirement, you can perfectly solve crossword puzzles, solve logic puzzles, learn a foreign language. Today, many language schools offer special conditions and discounts for classes in a group of seniors.
In old age, it is important to pay sufficient attention to reading. It improves visual and motor memory, strengthens logic, associative and figurative thinking. It is highly recommended to reread your favorite works and retell them with a description of the appearance, characters of the characters.
Pay special attention to details. Try to remember as many of them as possible. Retirees are advised not to use lists and organizers to plan their purchases. The memory loss that is possible due to the use of notes and reminders may be irreparable and progressive.
For information on how to develop memory and attention, see the video.