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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

              5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory How Cognitive Learning Benefits Your Brain 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits

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              Last Updated on December 9, 2019

              15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

              15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power

              These days, there are so many food choices. Every marketing trick is used to make you buy brain foods, all-natural, fat-free or gluten-free products.

              Could you blame them? They need to make a profit to keep existing and delivering their goods to the consumers.

              But does this mean that foods with these labels are just regular products or do brain foods really exist?

              That’s when research came in and proved that brain foods (meaning: foods that have a positive effect on the brain) really do exist.

              In this article, you will find 15 brain foods you should be eating to keep your mind sharp.

              1. Blueberries

              One of the greatest gifts of Mother Nature — blueberries. Blueberries are known as the king of antioxidants[1] and are used to detox the body.

              There are not a lot of studies that tried to prove the relationship between blueberries and the improvement of brain function. But there’s one study that consisted of 9 elderly people. They found that consuming blueberry juice on a daily basis for 12 weeks improved memory function.[2]

              If this is not reasonable enough to include blueberries into your diet, you should read the following article on other benefits of blueberries: 10 Benefits of Blueberries That Will Impress You

              As with every single one of the brain foods listed here: Consuming more than necessary can also lead to side effects, this is the same with blueberries.[3]

              When including blueberries in your diet along with other brain foods; make sure to eat no more than 0.5 cups (4 oz./113 grams) a day.

              2. Broccoli

              The first vegetable on the list, broccoli. Whatever you do with it; roast, steam, blanch or saute.[4] It will still improve the sharpness of your brain.

              There are two main nutrients in broccoli that makes it one of the brain foods on this list. Vitamin K, which is also found in lower amounts in blueberries, helps strengthen cognitive abilities.[5] The nutrient Choline improves your memory.[6]

              There’s six times more vitamin K in broccoli than in blueberries. The downside is that blueberries are a bit tastier.

              Include some broccoli with every warm plate you eat in a day, and your brain will turn into a SUPER brain.

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              3. Walnuts

              Walnuts are the best choice of all the nuts when it comes to improving cognitive function. They have the same benefits as every other nut, but walnuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids.[7]

              Beside the improvement of heart health,[8] walnuts also provide a sharper memory (at least to women).[9]

              Consuming walnuts also help slow mental decline[10] because of the Vitamin E that is found in walnuts.[11]

              Next time you crave a snack, buy a bag of unroasted and unsalted walnuts. In the future, this will be the replacement of all unhealthy snacks like Twix.

              Brain foods are not brain foods because they contain a lot of sugar. Brain foods usually consist of a high amount of vitamins and antioxidants. That’s how you can recognize them.

              4. Green Tea

              Some of us are coffee drinkers while others prefer tea. You don’t have to choose one or the other because both of them made it to the list (you’ll read later about coffee in number 11 of brain foods).

              Green tea contains more than just caffeine; it contains L-theanine which essentially lowers the anxiety levels.[12] It also increases the levels of dopamine and alpha wave production (relaxation).

              The lower levels of caffeine in green tea compared to coffee makes this a perfect brain function drink. Caffeine and L-theanine show synergistic effects that work best with the amount of caffeine found in green tea.[13]

              People who drink green tea have proven that they have a more stable energy level and increased productivity compared to when they drink coffee. So, if you’re looking for brain foods that will enhance your productivity; green tea is the way to go.

              5. Oranges

              Orange has a high amount of Vitamin C in it. One large orange is enough to fulfill 100% of your daily Vitamin C intake. Vitamin C has a lot of benefits:

              • Vitamin C reduces the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease[14]
              • It may help fight against high blood pressure[15]
              • Vitamin C boosts immunity by increasing the production of white blood cells[16]
              • The most important of all: high levels of Vitamin C are found to be related to the improvement of memory and thinking. People suffering from dementia has been shown to have low levels of Vitamin C.[17] This may mean that by consuming enough Vitamin C, you will be able to prevent dementia.[18]

              To learn more about everything related to Vitamin C, read the following article: All You Need To Know About Vitamin C Benefits (and Recipes To Boost Your Daily Intake)

              6. Avocados

              Avocados fit very nicely in your salad, or you may even like it on toast.

              Avocado is a source of healthy fats; monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fat is believed to contribute to healthy blood flow which in turn means a healthy brain.[19]

              Besides that, avocados also lower blood pressure which will prevent a decrease in cognitive abilities.[20]

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              Adding 1/4 or 1/2 avocado daily should do the trick and help your brain function as a superhero.

              If you need practical ways to include avocado in your daily diet, check this out: 50+ Super Easy Avocado Recipes At Home Now

              7. Coconut Oil

              Coconut oil is a multi-functional oil; some bathe in it, some put it all over their skin, and it’s also used for cooking. To get the following benefits out of it; you should consume it orally (but that’s up to you of course).

              When it comes down to improved brain function; coconut oil has proven to boost brain function in Alzheimer’s patients.[21] Although it isn’t shown to work on people without Alzheimer’s; it can never hurt.

              Besides that, there are many more benefits to coconut oil.

              8. Spinach

              One research found that when elderly consumed one (or two) daily serving of spinach (or other leafy greens for that matter) for an average of 5 years had the same cognitive abilities as someone 11 years younger who never consumed leafy greens.[22]

              This all is thanks to Vitamin K that is found in leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens.

              Popeye looks impressive from the outside, and you will look impressive from the inside once you consume your daily spinach: 6 Mouth-Watering Spinach Recipes You Should Not Miss

              9. Oatmeal

              Known for its use as breakfast, oatmeal is one of many kinds of cereal that contains more than just sugar.

              There’s a reason why oatmeal is often used as breakfast. It is because of the many carbohydrates that are in it which act like a shot of glucose that spikes your blood sugar levels.

              Glucose is sent immediately to the brain to help it function. In essence, this means that the higher the concentration of glucose in your blood, the better you can focus and remember things.[23]

              If you suffer from low blood sugar levels in the morning and can’t function without having a big breakfast immediately upon waking, oatmeal is going to be your best friend.

              10. Raisins

              Children often consume them as healthy snacks because it’s sweet. But did you know raisins promote brain function?

              Raisins are the number one source of boron of all brain foods. The research found that the level of boron is related to hand-eye coordination and short-term memory.[24] Increased levels of boron improves both.

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              Besides that, raisins also heal wounds faster and prevent deficiency in Vitamin D.

              11. Coffee

              We touched on the benefits of green tea earlier, but that doesn’t mean coffee can’t serve its purpose to brain function as well. If you prefer coffee over tea; listen (actually read) closely.

              There’s something about coffee that most people don’t even know. The point is that most of us consume more antioxidants through coffee than any other of the mentioned brain foods.

              This is not because there are more antioxidants in coffee; it’s because coffee is consumed the most of all brain foods.

              These antioxidants protect your brain from cell death which in turn protects you from dementia and related diseases.[25]

              Not to mention that caffeine may also prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.[26][27]

              You don’t have to give up your coffee; except for all the sugar and milk you put in it. Drink your coffee black and keep it to a maximum of 3 per day and you should be okay.

              12. Almonds

              Earlier we touched upon walnuts, but most nuts are generally good for your health (as long as you don’t overdo it).

              Almonds are most known for their potential of enhancing memory and delaying Alzheimer’s progression.[28][29] Of course, they share the same benefits with the walnuts, but almonds are lower in omega 3 fats.

              If you forget things on a daily basis, maybe a handful of almonds per day can help you.

              Five to six almonds a day should do the trick. If you’re not watching your weight, you can just grab a handful. But don’t overdo it because there’s a lot of fats in nuts.

              Here’re more benefits of almonds you should know: 10 Benefits of Almonds That Will Surprise You (+Healthy Recipes)

              13. Lentils

              Lentils for the vegans among you is one of the best sources of protein among legumes. Besides that, it is a rich source of various essential nutrients like iron, Vitamin B6, and folate (Vitamin B9).

              Besides the fact that they make a terrific combination with rice; lentils also serves its purpose in the brain. All the essential nutrients improve brain function in their own way:

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              • Folate (Vitamin B9) keeps your mind sharp while you get older.[30]
              • Iron plays an essential role in cognitive functioning with pregnant women.[31]
              • Zinc is well known for boosting memory.[32]
              • Vitamin B6 and thiamine give you more energy and focus.[33][34]

              As you can see; lentils make up one of the best brain foods on this list. But this also depends on your preference as some of you might’ve never even eaten lentils.

              14. Strawberries

              Most berries and other related fruits like strawberries (which are technically seen not berries) are all known to have beneficial effects on the brain.[35] They help prevent age-related memory loss and may even slow the progress of Alzheimer’s.[36]

              Another thing that is more strawberry related is the amount of potassium in it. Potassium is related to increased blood flow thus improved cognitive function.[37]

              Eight strawberries per day should do the trick and give you many benefits besides these brain-enhancing benefits: 10 Amazing Benefits of Strawberries that You Probably Never Knew

              15. Red Wine

              Last but not least, red wine. Although alcohol itself is not related to any improvement in brain functioning; some studies show that there are benefits to drinking lightly or moderately.

              Out of all the alcoholic beverages, red wine is the one with the most favorable results. Research shows that red wine may even slow aging[38] and it can also decrease the risk of dementia.[39]

              Although these results are based on research, the researchers don’t recommend that any non-drinkers start drinking. Especially younger people shouldn’t aim to drink red wine as the most benefits (or no increased risks) are found in the elderly.

              If you think about drinking red wine, you should drink maximum 1 glass of red wine per day as a woman and maximum of 2 glasses of red wine per day for men. One glass of red wine should contain 175ml, don’t overdo it.

              Keep in mind that there are also potential risks to drinking alcohol. Such risks include addition, depression and weight gain when you’re not drinking carefully.

              Conclusion

              “You are what you eat.”

              One of the oldest sayings ever expresses all you need to know.

              Every food on this brain foods list is put on this list because it enhances brain functioning in some way. So, whichever food on this list you choose to eat after reading this article doesn’t matter.

              What matters most is that you read everything closely and choose one of the brain foods that fit your goal the most.

              Enjoy eating your next brain food!

              More About Boosting Brain Power

              Featured photo credit: Melissa Belanger via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Wild Blueberries: Wild Blueberries Antioxidants
              [2] NCBI: Blueberry Supplementation Improves Memory in Older Adults
              [3] Good Health All: 8 Major Side Effects OF Eating Too Many Blueberries
              [4] Skinny Ms: How to Make Broccoli Taste Good, Each and Every Time
              [5] Wellness Resources: Vitamin K Enhances Cognitive Function During Aging
              [6] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: The relation of dietary choline to cognitive performance and white-matter hyperintensity in the Framingham Offspring Cohort
              [7] The Journal Of Nutrition: Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age
              [8] NCBI: Cardiovascular risk factors and cognitive function.
              [9] NCBI: LONG-TERM INTAKE OF NUTS IN RELATION TO COGNITIVE FUNCTION IN OLDER WOMEN
              [10] NCBI: Vitamin E and cognitive decline in older persons.
              [11] NCBI: Vitamin E-gene interactions in aging and inflammatory age-related diseases: implications for treatment. A systematic review.
              [12] NCBI: The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent.
              [13] NCBI: L-theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance.
              [14] NCBI: Effect of five-year supplementation of vitamin C on serum vitamin C concentration and consumption of vegetables and fruits in middle-aged Japanese: a randomized controlled trial.
              [15] NCBI: Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
              [16] NCBI: Association between nutritional status and cognitive functioning in a healthy elderly population.
              [17] NCBI: Dietary antioxidants and dementia in a population-based case-control study among older people in South Germany.
              [18] National Institute of Health: Vitamin C
              [19] JOURNAL OF NEUROCHEMISTRY: Dietary intake of unsaturated fatty acids modulates physiological properties of entorhinal cortex neurons in mice
              [20] National Institute on Aging: High blood pressure is linked to cognitive decline
              [21] NCBI: Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults.
              [22] News Wise: Eating Green Leafy Vegetables Keeps Mental Abilities Sharp
              [23] PNAS: Stoichiometric coupling of brain glucose metabolism and glutamatergic neuronal activity
              [24] NCBI: Nothing Boring About Boron
              [25] NCBI: Neuroprotection and antioxidants
              [26] NCBI: High Blood caffeine levels in MCI linked to lack of progression to dementia.
              [27] NCBI: Hypoxia/reoxygenation impairs memory formation via adenosine-dependent activation of caspase 1.
              [28] Science Direct: Repeated administration of almonds increases brain acetylcholine levels and enhances memory function in healthy rats while attenuates memory deficits in animal model of amnesia
              [29] Science Direct: Almond, hazelnut and walnut, three nuts for neuroprotection in Alzheimer’s disease: A neuropharmacological review of their bioactive constituents
              [30] NCBI: Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia
              [31] The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Iron treatment normalizes cognitive functioning in young women
              [32] ResearchGate: A potential medicinal importance of zinc in human health and chronic disease
              [33] ORA: Vitamin B6 for cognition
              [34] Springer Link: Thiamine supplementation mood and cognitive functioning
              [35] J. Agric. Food Chem: Berry Fruit Enhances Beneficial Signaling in the Brain
              [36] NCBI: Dietary intake of berries and flavonoids in relation to cognitive decline
              [37] Science Direct: Potassium 2-(1-hydroxypentyl)-benzoate improves learning and memory deficits in chronic cerebral hypoperfused rats
              [38] NY Times: New Hints Seen That Red Wine May Slow Aging
              [39] NCBI: Moderate alcohol consumption and cognitive risk.

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