Are you forgetting things?
Wait, what were you doing before you started reading this article about how to improve brain memory?
It’s normal to forget things occasionally; and it is still understandable to forget something if we are least attentive. For instance, forgetting our car keys at home or reaching the airport without our passport – is something else. It might happen because we were preoccupied with other thoughts in mind.
Everything from mental disorders to poor sleep can challenge our ability to focus. Thus, as we read further, we’ll look at some ways to help us remember better. Further, we’ll also work on some (really fun!) memory-enhancing strategies to improve brain memory. We will also learn more about a very efficient memory technique – Chain Linking and the two vital methods – based on – our visualisation and imagination skills.
First of all, let’s understand why we remember what we remember. The answer lies in Memory Principles.
What are the Memory Principles? How can they Improve Brain Memory?
Our memory makes us who we are. From recollecting the fun times from yesteryears to remembering where we left our mobile charger, memory plays a vital role in our lives. But if we’re not content with our memory, we are not doomed. It is proven that we can learn how to improve brain memory. One such effective method is Memory Principles.
So, what I am about to share here are the basic memory principles that have helped me improve brain memory along the way. Go through them in detail and we’re good to go!
- Primacy: Primacy effect means that we remember what we see or hear better.
- Emotional connect: If we’re emotional about a certain memory – event, day or a number – we will remember it better.
- Organised linking: Also known as chunking, it is commonly used to organise large amounts of letters. For instance, state the four words starting with B or recall the countries of a continent or capitals of those countries.
- Familiar words: We tend to remember familiar words better than unfamiliar words, like toothpaste or any such everyday object.
- Uniqueness: Episodic memory is our unique memory of a specific event – which will be different from someone else’s memory of the same experience. We may miss a few things which could be clear in someone else’s memory who witnessed the same event.
- Mental imagery: Mental images are a key for many powerful memory techniques. If we have to remember a list of things to buy, let’s try visualising them for better recall.
- Connections: A connected memory has a lasting recall. For instance, if on a holiday, we feel connected to the destination, ‘always’ in the present moment, we will remember it better.
- Associative Memory: It is the ability to learn and remember the relationship between unrelated items. For example, remembering the name Mark, because he scored better marks in school.
- The recency effect: The more recent the memory, the better it is. For instance, in a meeting, the points discussed last are more likely to be remembered.
When we try to remember something, our minds tend to have a mind of their own. That’s when we become detached from the present moment. Thus, following the above memory principles in our daily life is a really simple and effective way of becoming mindful and to improve brain memory.
Next, let’s move on to discover the magic of Chain Linking.
What is Chain Linking?
This method is an efficient technique for remembering a list of items and to improve brain memory. It deals with two ways of memorisation –
Chain Linking Part I that helps us remember with words
Chain Linking Part II that helps us remember with picturisation
Chain Linking Part I – The Power of Words
Words memorisation is a fundamental tool for several activities. This includes learning a new language, improving our vocabulary, remembering names, preparing for a speech without notes, and so on.
Let’s learn with an example. Here’s a list of random words. Is there a way to remember them?
The items are completely random. I’ve put whatever came to my head at this moment. Follow these instructions to recall them.
Every mental picture we get must have two objects –
> The first one is the one that you need to remember
> The second one is the link to the next mental picture.
So the chain will look like this:
(Fire hydrant, Balloon) <-> (Batteries, Boiler) <-> (Board, Diamond) <-> (Sir Lancelot, Mask) <-> (Toothpaste, Sign)
This method works with any object we choose, but it works better with non-abstract objects. There’s an amazing Chinese proverb by Confucius, “What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.” So the more we see and do, the more we’ll remember.
That’s why when we teach something to someone, we learn twice! This means that we remember it as an emotional memory or visualise it. This Chain Linking method-I can be used to improve brain memory and memorise stuff we have a difficult time remembering.
With me so far? Great.
Let’s move to Chain Linking Part II.
Chain Linking Part II- Paint a Picture
Before I get started, I must tell you that we should have the intent to remember. When we have the interest to remember, it helps us visualise and improve brain memory. Hence, this second theory is about picturisation.
Most of us look up brain exercises to improve memory and stumble upon Rote Learning. So, let’s explore it further.
What is Rote Learning?
Rote learning is the memorisation of information based on repetition. Also known as drilling, it is widely used in classrooms to teach children’s alphabet and multiplication tables.
But, does rote learning have a place in the 21stcentury to improve brain memory?
It may be argued that it is an outdated technique, but the results are here to stay. So, how can we apply the rote technique to memorise more technical, scientific, boring concepts, or full of long and difficult definitions?
As a first step, we need to create a picture of the stuff we want to learn and remember. We dream in pictures, we think in pictures, because the language of pictures works universally.
So How Can We Improve Brain Memory with Visuals?
My advice would be to do what a kid would do. A kid would use their imagination to make it a creative visual of what they are trying to learn.
As adults, it helps us too. Picture a new piece of knowledge that we’re trying to learn. Now try to relate it with something. We can also link it with something that sounds like it.
As an experiment, let’s try to remember the names of the ten Greek Gods, in order. “Zeus, Poseidon, Ares, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Aphrodite, Hermes, Dyonysus, Hypnos”.
How would we remember it?
Here’s how we can learn with our brainpower put to action.
- First is Zeus: We all know him, the God of the Gods
- The second in line is Poseidon: Visualise it as the Don of all the poses! (Yes, we can make it as funny, or senseless as we can. The idea is to remember!)
- The third, Ares: ‘Are’ is a verb depicting the ‘state of being’ of multiple living or non-living things. Why not make it sound plural? Ares sounds like are, so visualise a big ARE followed by many S’s!
- The fourth one is Athena: Doesn’t the name sound familiar to the beautiful ancient Greek city, Athens?
- The fifth is Apollo: Being Italian myself, I would immediately link it with a chicken. In Spanish too, Pollo means chicken. So, chicken = Apollo! If you are not Italian or Spanish, you can link it with Polo clothing brand, or the sport Polo.
- The sixth one is Artemis: Doesn’t it sound like art? What if she was a beautiful woman whom we would call Miss Art? There we have it, remembering Artemis is now easy.
- Seventh is Aphrodite: It reminds of an aphrodisiac, right? Aphrodite, the aphrodisiac.
- Eight is Hermes: This is way too easy! Just visualize Hermes Bags. If you’re not exactly fashion conscious, you could visualise it like ‘her mess’.
Can you believe that we are able to remember all the 8 names with crazy visualisation? Just two more to go!
9. Ninth is Dyonysus: It reminds me of the dinosaurs. What do you think?
10. The tenth one is Hypnos: Easy again, just connect it with hypnosis.
Now, wasn’t that easy to remember? Now let’s move on to the sequence. Whenever we find it difficult to remember, just make a strange and funny story out of it! What do you think about this one?
“One day ZEUS wakes up thinking that he is the DON of all the POSES. There ARE many S people waiting for him at the ATHENS, a city where lots there are lots of POLLO (chickens) (or alternatively POLO T-SHIRTS). They consider him the MISS of ART, despite him being a Godly man. Certain POLLOS feel an APRHODISIAC effect when they find out that Zeus will;
1: Launch a new line of HERMES DINOSAURS dancing under HYPNOSIS.
2: Tidy up HER MESSed up a room full of DINOSAURS toys used to HYPNOTISE people!”
Do I hear a chuckle? Crazy story, isn’t it? But admit it, we have successfully remembered the names of ten Gods using a funny storyline. A fun way to improve brain memory. The funnier and no-sense, the better remembered.
Did you know that messages delivered as visual stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than facts? The idea here is to turn each element that we want to learn in a visual. Then we can connect it with humour, action, emotion, or mentally strong ideation. Be playful, like a kid. The application of these techniques will enhance our visualisation, imagination, focus, and much more and you are good to improve brain memory.
Do you remember my previous article about how Mnemonics work to improve brain memory Similarly, by organising difficult concepts into an imagery structure, rhyme or story makes it easier to learn.
Learn more exercises to improve brain memory
To test mind exercises in the real world, I’ve tried an array of brain-sharpening techniques. Am I able to list the 7 continents of the world? Maybe. But do I remember where I put my keys? Yes, for sure.
If our memory could use an extra boost, we’re in luck. Put in some efforts and we can improve brain memory. Here’re are some more exercises and a trick to remember them: Y-E-A-H
- Yield memory spots: Visualise the physical places that we regularly occupy. Our bedroom or our car and put a mental picture in one of those spots. I write a lot on my laptop, so one of my memory spots is the penholder on my desk.
- Exercise our brain: Puzzles like sudoku and crosswords are vital brain exercises to improve memory, focus and other brain powers. We have to be consistent with these mental exercises to keep up with the benefits.
- Avoid multitasking: We generally become forgetful or absentminded because we try to become the master of all trades. Multitasking interferes with our memory retention and attention span. So do one task at a time. And do it well.
- Hit the gym: While we do brain exercises to improve memory, let’s exercise our body too. Whatever exercise may work for us, do it. Light to moderate form of exercise has shown improvement in brainpower and memory.
“Practice like you play, and you’ll play like you practice.” This is a pearl of folk wisdom endorsed by the authors of Make It Stick. I do agree with it that it’s all about practice and consistency.
We can retain different types of memories for different lengths of time. It’s right there, but a little out of our reach. That’s why these mind exercises need practice in ‘using our brain in the right way’. If we practice the Chain Linking memory technique, we will get better in creating mental hooks to remember a lot.
I know that you’re thinking it to be an artificial way to remember something. But that’s fine, and it works great!
All it has to do is work. So, do try it out if you don’t want to be known as ‘the forgetful one’.
If you found this article interesting and want to go deeper into this topic, I would suggest you a great books from one of my favourite teachers and healer:
Have a Good Day and Life!
Wellness Explorer and Lover