Memory is essential for intellectual functioning, so is it possible to improve memory so we can remember details or where problem solving comes more easily? One school of thought from theorists on intelligence believes that there are limits on IQ and memory improvement a person can achieve. Modern psychology on the other hand has shown through published research that IQ can indeed be raised (see Cassidy, Roche & Hayes, 2011) and also that these IQ rises are permanent (Roche, Cassidy &Stewart, 2013). We also know that memory is an essential part of intellectual functioning and IQ. Studies and clinical data show that a person’s IQ score no longer is a number that is fixed for life. Instead an IQ score is just the starting point in a journey to continuously increase intellectual skill sets for meaningful gains in fluid intelligence, working memory and reasoning. To start this journey here are 5 ways to improve your memory.
Get the Brain to Practice
Once a person has even the basic understanding of a topic in place, they now need to rehearse the information to “make it stick”. The old adage “practice makes perfect” still applies when the brain is trying to remember new things. If anyone wants to make information come to mind automatically, they need to rehearse it regularly. Then the brain will be able to produce information quickly when it is need to, whether that is for school, a test, in a business meeting or even for social reasons.
Engage meaningfully with important content matter
In 1972, Psychologists Craik and Lockhart found that the more attention people pay to the meaning of what they see and hear, the better they will remember it. In other words, memory is a function of how effort and meaning was put into the initial encoding of information into the brain. So if we process novel information at a deeper level, we will be better able to later recall that information. Understanding aids memory and it will be harder to remember things if you are merely rote learning without fully comprehending the material.
Use visual imagery
There are many different ways that anyone can use visual imagery as a memory aid. Consider the example of using mind maps where a person imagines a map of the information or a tree with the branches that stem out each holding an important and relevant fact. People might also find it useful to imagine a cloakroom with all of the pegs holding a piece of information. So whichever method is preferred, the key point is that we visualize the information as we study it so that we can later recall it with greater ease.
Back when we were all in school, a teacher or parent likely taught us to use acronyms to remember things and I would venture that most of us still remember some version of this, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” (Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto). See?? It still works. You can also use this if you are trying to remember names at a conference (e.g., Black boots Brenda or Bushy eyebrows Earl).
Pay attention to beginnings and endings
Research indicates that the brain remembers more at the beginning and end of learning periods. This does not mean we zone out in the middle of a lecture, class, seminar or a professional development day, but be aware of our own optimal memory times. Listen up for the introductions and conclusions and don’t be afraid to ask a teacher or a trainer to summarize the main points again at the end of a lesson.
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