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Memory and Memory Techniques (by Moss )

Have you ever thought about how amazing it is that we are equipped with a brain with the capacity to remember all sorts of experiences and information acquired during a lifetime? Have you been impressed with someone's seemingly perfect memory, or maybe groaned in frustration at not being able to remember anything for your exam? Either way, this article will give you some insight into how this remarkable faculty of the brain actually works. And if you think you have a bad memory, fret not! In the second part of this article I will describe some techniques you can use to train your memory. But first, let us begin by learning about how our memory functions. As you know, the human brain has the capacity to store large amounts of information, an act commonly referred to as memory. However, memory is not just a storage space located in a certain part of our brains. It consists of a complex array of processes that all converge into the ability to remember and retrieve information. Although certain parts of the brain, such as the hippocampus, play a more prominent role in the process of memory, the whole brain is involved through the complex networks of synapses that it encompasses. As an example, long-term memory is maintained by more or less permanent and stable changes in neural connections spread throughout the brain.

In order to even be able to remember something, our brains must function as sensory processors, taking in information from the outside world in the form of both physical and chemical stimuli. This sensory processing can then be encoded in the brain through three types of memory: short-term memory, working memory and long-term memory. Most people are more familiar with the word short-term memory, but among researchers, it is widely held that short-term memory and working memory are different from each other. While short-term memory can be described as a storage space that can hold information for short periods of time, working memory is responsible for the initial encoding of information attained through our contact with the world around us. It also functions as a processor capable of retrieving previously stored information. This previously stored information is what we call long-term memory. Put differently, long-term memory refers to the collections of information and experience that are stored through various categorical systems in our brains.

To better understand the complex processes of remembering and recalling information, we will now delve deeper into the types of memory briefly presented above. As mentioned in the introduction, our brains work as sensory processors, absorbing information transmitted through our five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. This information passes through the sensory memory as an automatic response, enabling us to retain impressions of sensory information even after the stimulus is gone. However, the sensory memory is very limited. For example, the iconic memory can hold visual information for only about 250 milliseconds, while the echoic memory can hold audio information for 2-3 seconds. In order for the sensory information to become available to us on a more conscious or higher cognitive level, it has to be extracted into the short-term memory, where it can then be processed by the working memory. As the name suggests, your working memory is involved when you are actively engaging in a task, such as doing mental calculations. For a long time, seven (plus minus two) was held to be the “magical number” when it came to short-term memory. Later research has since modified this to four (plus minus two). Without repetition, information can normally only be retained for about twenty seconds, or up to a few minutes. In order for the information not to disappear, it must be repeated.

Through repetition, you will be able to transfer the information in your short-term memory to your long-term memory, where it can be held for an infinite amount of time. Long-term memory can be divided into two main categories: explicit and implicit. The explicit memory holds memories that are consciously available to you, and can be further subdivided into four different categories: episodic, semantic, autobiographical and spatial. Episodic memory can be described as life experience memory, since it includes memories of events experienced during a lifetime. These memories often include situational and contextual details about one's experiences that can be mentally replayed over and over again. In other words, the episodic memory can be thought of as mental time travelling, enabling us to relive our experiences for an infinite number of times. As you are probably aware, the episodic memory often includes seemingly random things, such as the time you saw someone fall off their bicycle, but of course also includes more significant things, such as the day you graduated or won your first competition.

Semantic memory refers to general world knowledge, including facts, ideas, meaning and concepts, that we have accumulated during our lives. It is independent of personal experience, and can be thought of as the memory that stores the things we learn, such as vocabulary, capital cities and song lyrics. Autobiographical memory is similar to episodic memory, with the difference being that this type of memory refers only to people's own individual experiences and perceptions of themselves. Finally, spatial memory refers to knowledge about one's environment, and functions as a cognitive map for example enabling us to navigate the city we live in. While explicit memory is conscious, implicit memory is largely unconscious. One of the main components of this is known as procedural memory, which refers to our knowledge of different skills that can be performed without conscious thinking. A common example is bicycling, which is often described as a skill that, once learned, cannot be forgotten. Other examples include reading, tying shoelaces and playing an instrument.

All these different forms of memory come together in our brains as they process the constant sensory stimuli we are exposed to. Although different theories provide varying accounts of the connections between and processing of the different types of memory, it is safe to say that without memory, it would simply be impossible to live in anything else but a given moment. Our memories function as the basis on which we can build further knowledge, and enable us to draw on past experiences to deal with new ones. Now that you have hopefully learned a bit more about how memory works, it is about time we move on to something a bit more practical.
Reading this article, you might wonder why it is even relevant for you to learn techniques for improving your memory. You can just write things down, so why bother? While that is of course true, it is important to remember (no pun intended!) that training your brain and keeping it active is crucial to maintaining a healthy mind, which can help you to prevent your brain from atrophying more than what is inevitable as you get older. Doing different exercises, such as playing memory games or learning new words will both help you to keep your brain healthy and expand its capacity. Since most people probably do not think they have the time to sit down and do active brain training exercises every day, I will describe some strategies for strengthening your memory that you can use in your daily life. But first of all, you need to pay attention. This might seem obvious, but the ability to actively memorise something is dependent on adequate registration of information, which usually only happens if you are focused. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough how important paying attention is for your memory.

Moving on to more concrete strategies to use to improve your memory, I will present three different techniques that you can try next time you want to remember something. The first one is called chunking, and refers to the act of chunking, or grouping together, information to make it easier for your brain to digest. This technique is particularly useful for remembering sequences of digits, such as phone numbers, but can also be used for memorising shopping lists or new vocabulary. For example, if you want to remember a nine-digit sequence (742916538), it will be much easier if you break it down into chunks of three: 742 916 538. Keeping in mind the theory about short-term memory that states that we can only keep four things there at a time, the ten-digit sequence would likely pose a challenge for most us. If we break it down into three instead, we are much more likely to remember it. The next technique is very common among memory champions, and is based on converting information into vivid pictures, since images are usually easier for people to remember. This can be done in numerous ways, so if you are using this technique, you have a lot of freedom to create a system that works best for you. One way of doing it is to create bizarre images that somehow incorporate the things you want to remember. For example, if your list of tasks for the day includes walking your neighbour's dog, returning books at the library and buying potatoes at the supermarket, you can imagine a dog juggling books on top of a pile of potatoes.

The third technique is called the method of loci or memory palace, and refers to a memory technique based on mentally “placing” things in a well-known environment, such as your home or the route you take to work or school. To use this method, you need to visualise how for example your home looks, and remember it as vividly as you can. In order to memorise something, you need to associate the item you want to remember with a certain object or space in your home. To do this, imagine walking around and then placing the item for example on your bed. In order to retrieve your memory, you simply walk through your home again, stopping at the bed to find the item you stored there. To make this technique more effective, you can combine it with the visualisation method described above, creating images in your mind that you can more easily remember.

Of course, there are many more strategies you can use to aid memorisation. There are also plenty of ways to improve your memory as a whole, for example by learning a new language, learning how to play an instrument, or just learning new things in general. That said, I hope that the techniques presented have been of interest to you, and maybe even turn out to be useful the next time you want to remember something.



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Private wrote on 21-07 16:22:
BloomCissi wrote:
Atencia wrote:
Ah, this is a great article, Sofie!
About those memory techniques though... I’ve come across all of them before, as I’ve always had a terrible memory and needed some help trying to improve its capacity, but my issue is that if I for example am to do the memory palace method, once I go back through my house there is just no way I can connect the items I need to remember with the places in my house, or even remember what places I used at all. Those are just long gone. However, as I suppose my memory is just a lost cause at this point, I’ve become a master at taking notes and writing lists! Lol

And stunning layout as always, Fran! ❤️
Thank you, I'm glad you liked it!

Haha, aw. I'm not sure it would work any better for me though, so you're not alone there!
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Private wrote on 21-07 14:31:
BloomCissi wrote:
Glad to hear that you enjoyed it! 
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Atencia wrote on 21-07 12:31:
Atencia wrote:
Ah, this is a great article, Sofie!
About those memory techniques though... I’ve come across all of them before, as I’ve always had a terrible memory and needed some help trying to improve its capacity, but my issue is that if I for example am to do the memory palace method, once I go back through my house there is just no way I can connect the items I need to remember with the places in my house, or even remember what places I used at all. Those are just long gone. However, as I suppose my memory is just a lost cause at this point, I’ve become a master at taking notes and writing lists! Lol

And stunning layout as always, Fran! ❤️
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Moss wrote on 20-07 14:25:
Moss wrote:
A big thanks to everyone who said something nice about the layout! Really keeps me motivated 💖✨
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Private wrote on 20-07 13:50:
Amren wrote:
Ohh such an interesting article and amazing layout! ^^
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Private wrote on 19-07 22:33:
CheerGirl wrote:
Obsessed with this layout omg  Thanks for this article (l)
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Pjmin wrote on 19-07 22:21:
Pjmin wrote:
I'm AWFUL at remembering stuff, but at the moment I only want to learn a way on how to forget some bullshit...
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Private wrote on 19-07 21:14:
Legohouse wrote:
Memory techniques, honestly what I need to start doing. Loving this Moss layout tho
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Private wrote on 19-07 15:10:
Azriel wrote:
Ooo interesting
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Private wrote on 18-07 22:51:
BloomCissi wrote:
Moss wrote:
Thanks to Bloom for this highly relevant article.  Pleasure to work with you as always!
Aw, thanks. Likewise! 
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Private wrote on 18-07 21:11:
BloomCissi wrote:
TogetherForever wrote:
This was a great read! I was absolutely amazing, as usual!
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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Private wrote on 18-07 18:17:
BloomCissi wrote:
Libertas wrote:
The layout is stunning! 

The topic of this article is really interesting too and really helpful for a forgetful person like me lol
Haha, let me know if those techniques work, because I haven't actually tried them myself. XD
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Moss wrote on 18-07 17:53:
Moss wrote:
Thanks to Bloom for this highly relevant article.  Pleasure to work with you as always!
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TogetherForever wrote on 18-07 17:53:
TogetherForever wrote:
This was a great read! I was absolutely amazing, as usual!
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Libertas wrote on 18-07 17:50:
Libertas wrote:
The layout is stunning! 

The topic of this article is really interesting too and really helpful for a forgetful person like me lol



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