How you can improve your memory
You don’t need to spend 24 hours a day reading books to learn effectively. On the contrary, it is important to maintain a balance between work and play. Sleep and regular exercise are important not only for physical health, but also for brain function, including memory.
Get enough sleep
An adult needs to sleep from 7 to 9 hours a day. Adequate sleep is important for all organs and systems of the body, including the brain.
Neurologist and scientist Matthew Walker in his book Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreaming says that a night’s sleep before study renews the brain’s ability to create new memories, and after study – reinforces the knowledge gained. Compared to the same waking time, sleep increases the person’s ability to memorize information by 20–40%. Moreover, early night sleep is more important for preserving memories. So if you study a lot, it’s best not to stay up late.
Exercise is good for the brain. During exercise, cells receive more oxygen. Exercise increases synaptic plasticity and stimulate the production of nerve growth factors, which helps the brain build new neural connections.
If you want to memorize information faster, choose high-intensity aerobic exercise – scientists suggestthat they affect memory better than moderate exercise.
Study at the right time
Since childhood, we get used to learning from the early morning – in many countries, school lessons begin at eight. But some researchers believe that it is necessary to sit down to textbooks later. For example, scientists from the University of Nevada in the US and the Open University in the UK have come to the conclusionthat classes at universities should start at 11-12 hours.
Clinical psychologist Michael Breus, in his book “Always on Time”, when choosing the optimal time for study, suggests taking into account the chronotype – an individual feature of the body’s circadian rhythms. Some people remember new data better from 10:00 to 14:00, while others – from 16:00 to 22:00. Breus does not recommend spending the night studying: from 4:00 to 7:00 in the morning, information is absorbed the worst of all.
Observe yourself and try to find a time in which it is easier for you to perceive something new.
How to memorize information faster
The letter helps to highlight important information, as well as encourages you to start looking for new ones. When we write, various cognitive mechanisms are involved: repetition, reinforcement, and critical reflection on new material.
There is no consensus among scientists as to how best to take notes – on paper or on a laptop. American psychologists Pam Muller and Daniel Oppenheimer believethat it is better to write by hand. They conducted a study and found that students who typed on a laptop tried to record the lecture verbatim. And those who used a notebook and pen were forced to reformulate the information in their own words, which did them good. A few years later, scientists from Kent State University repeated the experiment and came to the conclusionthat the benefits of handwriting are negligible.
If you’re used to working on a laptop, you might not want to give it up. The main thing is to analyze the information and capture the main ideas and concepts in notes, and not just retype a lecture or video lesson.
Use spaced repetition method
In the late 1880s, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus began to study memory and deduced regularity, which is now called the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. He found that a day after training, a person forgets more than half of the information received, and a week later remembers only 20%. That is, to remember something, you need to repeat it. You probably noticed this yourself when you memorized historical dates or foreign words.
One of the well-known algorithms based on the principle of spaced repetitions was invented by Piotr Wozniak. It’s called SuperMemo. The technique is quite complicated, but in general terms it can be represented as follows:
The first repetition is every other day.
The second repetition is a week later.
The third repetition is after 16 days.
The fourth repetition is after 35 days.
Flash cards work on a similar principle. On one side, you need to write the date, word or term that you need to remember, and on the other, an explanation for them. Cards can be made on paper or in applications on the phone.
Explain to others
Knowledge sharing is an effective way to remember new things. When you speak what you have learned in your own words, the brain understands the information better and organizes it. And to make the process interesting, you can use different methods – for example, give lectures, come up with tests and games, make presentations.
Exchange of information not only helps to remember it better, but also allows you to take a fresh look at the subject and establish contact with like-minded people. People who are interested in teaching and learning are united by the Russian society “Knowledge”. The public organization conducts free lectures, exhibitions and webinars, teaches computer literacy to older people, and supports teachers and students.
Now “Knowledge” holds an annual competition “Best Lecturer”, which will allow specialists to prove themselves and get access to a new audience. The first stage has already been completed – according to its results, 50 talented contestants from different parts of Russia were selected. In the fall, they will compete for the title of the best lecturer.
Stay away from multitasking
A modern person often picks up a smartphone to reply to a message or just check the feed of social networks while working on a task. In some situations, the ability to do several things at the same time can be useful, but we are talking about mastering a new skill or memorizing information – it is better to focus on one thing.
Multitasking undermines efficiency, especially when it comes to complex or unfamiliar things. It takes a person extra time to switch between tasks each time. Some researchers believethat multitasking negatively affects both working memory and long-term memory.
Use mnemonic techniques
Mnemonic techniques help you remember information better by creating associations. You have definitely come across such techniques. “Every hunter wants to know where the pheasant is sitting” is a famous mnemonic phrase that helps children learn the colors of the rainbow.
Poems sometimes help to learn a rule or a term (another example from school is “a bisector is a rat that runs in corners and divides the angle in half”). And to memorize words, you can come up with associations. For example, if you want to learn the word servant, imagine a sideboard with a servant standing next to it with a tray. The associations can be absurd or funny – the brighter the image, the easier it will be to remember.