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Brain Sync
Michael Gelb : Learn to Strengthen Your Memory: 7 Memory Tips

Learn to Strengthen Your Memory:

Seven Essential Memory Tips

From Brain Power: Improve Your Mind as You Age by Michael J. Gelb and Kelly Howell

There are seven essential tips for strengthening your memory as you age. The first one is this: Maintain a positive attitude about your memory...and...I can't recall the other six. (Just kidding!)

Memory needn't decline as you age. It's actually possible to improve it. And learning to improve your memory makes it easier to learn anything.

In a classic psychological study entitled "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information," George A. Miller argued that the number of objects an average human can hold in working memory is seven, plus or minus two. Given that, the following are seven essential things you need to know to improve your memory throughout your life.

1. Maintain a Positive Attitude about Your Memory

If you ask any elementary school teacher what children forget in the classroom every day, you'll learn that in addition to forgetting facts, they also leave behind all sorts of things: books, pens, iPods, etc. When the teacher reminds fourth grader Jason that he left his baseball cap in the coatroom, she doesn't usually hear "What's the matter with me? I'm eight years old, and my memory is going!" or "Gosh, another junior moment!" But after age twenty-five or so, many folks begin to focus on any glitch in memory as evidence for its demise. Normal forgetting is catalogued as a "senior moment," and the decline of memory becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. With a positive attitude, proper nutrition, exercise, and the application of the following simple tips, your memory will improve every year of your life.

2. Mobilize Your Full Attention

If you haven't registered something in your mind, then it is, of course, quite difficult to recall it. When people believe that their memory is fading, they don't bother trying to concentrate on registering new information, thus fulfilling their negative expectation. Many people complain, for example, that they can't remember names, but usually they don't focus enough to register the name in the first place. Mobilizing and focusing your attention are one of the simplest secrets to strengthening your memory.

3. Take Advantage of Your Preferred Learning Style

Visual types learn best by reading or otherwise seeing what they want to remember. Auditory learners prefer listening. They will remember the content of a book much better if they listen to it on tape or read it aloud. Individuals with a more kinesthetic learning style are more hands-on — they learn and remember best when they are moving and physically interacting rather than sitting passively at a desk. One of the simplest ways to strengthen your recall is to learn things in your preferred mode.

4. Connect New Information to Something You Already Know

Recall works best by association. The more associations you create, the easier it is to remember. For example, if you want to remember someone's name, find out where he lives and what he does, then make connections in your mind with other people from the same area and/or profession.

5. Memorize!

Understanding isn't the same thing as remembering. It's possible to comprehend what you are reading, for example, and then forget it all immediately. Therefore, it's important to review. If you want to remember these memory tips, then reread this section later today. Take notes, and then review your notes. Then take a blank sheet of paper and, without looking at your notes or the book, re-create your notes from memory. As you attempt to do this, you strengthen the new synapses in your brain and consolidate the new learning.

Memorization is a marvelous tonic for your powers of recall. In his superb essay "In Defense of Memorization," Michael Knox Beran explains, "The memorization and recitation of the classic utterances of poets and statesmen form part of a tradition of learning that stretches back to classical antiquity, when the Greeks discovered that words and sounds — and the rhythmic patterns by which they were bound together in poetry — awakened the mind and shaped character."

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Updated 1/7/14