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5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory and Memorize Anything Faster

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory and Memorize Anything Faster

Imagine the power of being able to memorize anything faster.

Think about how much time you’d have, how much you could shorten the learning curve, and how much more success you could achieve.

So much of what we read and absorb today is forgotten in our brains; we are not leveraging our time to its full potential. How many times have you had to read through a book two or three times because you couldn’t remember the information inside?

Apply these five research-backed ways to improve your memory, and you’ll be memorizing faster in no time.

1. Give it meaning

Meaning can be the difference between understanding something on an emotional level and forgetting it in an instant.

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One research showed two people the same photograph of a face and told one of them that the guy was a baker and the other that his last name was Baker. After a few days, the researcher showed the same two subjects the same photograph and asked for the associating word.

The person who was told that the man was a “baker” remembered it much more easily. Can you guess why?

When you hear “baker” your brain associates visual representations of what it means to be a baker. He bakes bread, wears a big white hat–we are given a vivid illustration that most of us are familiar with, therefore giving it more meaning. Baker as a last name, on the other hand, is rather meaningless unless you already have a friend or colleague with that name.

This theory, known as the Baker/baker paradox, teaches us that we should train ourselves to translate more meaning into information we want to make memorable.

2. Exercise that body!

You’ll rarely find anyone who dedicated their lives to physical health with memory dysfunctions. Exercise enhances blood circulation and oxygen to our brain, giving it more functionality.

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A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association supports that even 150 minutes of walking per week will reduce the risk of developing dementia and age-related memory loss.

As an added benefit, exercise is known to release dopamines in our bodies, which reduces depression and stress, two major causes of memory loss.

3. Train your mind

Many of us can recognize the visual benefits of training our bodies, but we often forget to train our minds. While the before and after results are not as clear, there is no doubt that mind exercises can significantly enhance our memories and reduce brain-related diseases.

Instead of watching Game of Thrones several hours a day, we can learn a new skill, play brain training games, or even play chess with a friend. The rule of thumb is, if you need to take a mental break from the activity, it’s good training for the brain.

Here are some ideas to thrill your brain:

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4. Teach it to someone else

Throughout our education, we’ve been taught to listen (typically to a lecture) and write down notes in order to memorize the information. But how many times have you taught something to someone, or immediately applied what you learn?

As research shows, it turns out that people retain:

  • 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture
  • 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading
  • 20% of what they learn from audio-visual
  • 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
  • 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion
  • 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned
  • 90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately

This means that the way we’ve been taught to remember information is the least effective way to learn!

If we want to memorize anything faster, the trick is to teach someone else or apply it in your life immediately. This forces our brain to concentrate in order to prevent ourselves from making mistakes while showing others or using it ourselves.

The next time you want to remember something, don’t just write it down. Teach it to someone!

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5. Sleep

This step is perhaps the most important, but one that most of us take for granted.

While we understand the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep before a big event, we don’t take the time to rest our brains after the event. Our brain needs rest in order to process all the information that it took in during the day.

Taking short breaks is also important to give your brain the bandwidth to process what you’ve learned. Just remember to put yourself in a distraction-free environment when doing so. This could mean going for a long walk or hike at your local park, or simply taking a quick nap.

More by this author

Sean Kim

Sean is the founder and CEO of Pulsing. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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