Q&A July 013 2019 - Strengthening Memory

memory q&a Jul 13, 2019

This is a great question and worthy of answering because strengthening memory is one of the most important tools for learning and retaining information. Memory, in many respects, is like a muscle. it requires exercise in order it for it to be fully functioning and able to serve you when you need it most.

Question - How can I strengthen my memory? I forget things easily.

Answer - Think about the last time you had to run for a bus, if the muscles in your legs are not trained for running (or even slow jogging)  then no doubt you will struggle to even be able to run for a bus. Memory is very much like this. Whatever information it is you are trying to retain, you will probably struggle if you don't practice things that support memory growth fitness and the retention of information. 

Repetition is a very effective way but it is not the only way. yet here I am 30 years on from sitting my GCSE exams still able to recall the information I memorized for my history GCSE because I really enjoyed the subject and spent a lot of time in revision. 

There is a profound difference between short-term and long-term memory. I will not go into the details on the subtle differences of both because I will probably end up writing a book!  In about 6 months time, after you have experimented with some of my suggestions below, I advise you to take some time to research this as I think it will help you to further improve your memory. If you are thinking of doing this now, a word of caution because I think it will hinder your ability to make the most of my suggestions. We all want to run before we can walk, yet we all know that we have to go through the process of crawling and then stumbling before we are able to walk and run. 

There are a million different things that you can try to strengthen and optimise your memory, below are my top 3.

1. Drink more. 

Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found, for the first time, that the functioning of our brains can be compromised by just a minor degree of dehydration. Previous studies have found when there is a water loss of around 2% of body weight then memory, attention and mood are adversely affected. The new research shows that the brain function of healthy adults is affected at a much lower level of dehydration than previously thought. So if you are feeling even slightly tired,  lethargic, or unable to concentrate then please pay attention to the amount of water you are drinking.  These signs are a cry for help from your body for hydration. 

2. Pictures and Emotions

Visualisation is a very powerful, and often unused technique, when it comes to memory.  You know that you have some really strong memories that are based on pictures of events, or emotions connected to a particular experience or events. And that memory is really, really strong. 

A visual representation of the information that you are trying to remember enables your brain to process that information in a different way, and when you connect emotions to this it's as if you are turning on your brain’s memory superpower

This works because it is activating our senses. When you have something that you are trying to remember don't just do it based on the words and they're order, because you are only activating one sense. If you are able to somehow connect the information to what you see (i.e. pictures or even colours), what you smell (perhaps connect a particular fragrance to the information you are trying to store), and touch (you could press  the same two fingers together as you are trying to remember that information) then all of a sudden you have several different ways of retrieving the information

A really powerful example of this is when individuals memorise Quran and they have a certain fragrance on there mushaf (written copy of the Quran), the smell creates a very strong connection between their being and the words that they have memorized,  and is a trigger for recording the memorized verses of the Quran

3. Mind maps to organise your memories

Mind mapping is a technique popularized by Tony Buzan.  What is wonderful about this technique is that it enables you to organise your thoughts in a visual way.  in addition, as you are trying to prepare your mind map your brain is working in the background placing your thoughts and the information in order. I recommend that you  go to the library and get some mind mapping books all find some good resources online and start practicing this process. You might feel a little bit frustrated at the beginning but bear with it because once it starts to work you will probably use the mind mapping process for most of your memory enhancing activities.

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