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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

4 Proven Ways To Improve Your Memory (And Learn Faster)

4 Proven Ways To Improve Your Memory (And Learn Faster)

In this article, you will learn what science tells us about the workings of our memory. Then, I will tell you exactly how to take advantage of this to drastically improve your memory and learn faster.

These are the same techniques used by “mental athletes” who can memorize a list of 100 words in a few seconds. Just imagine what these skills could do for your career.

Let’s start with the basis that underpins the concept of memorization.

1. Focus Your Attention

Anything that you consciously focus your attention on is picked up by your brain and in some form stored in your memory. This makes focus the single most important factor for memorization.

To store anything in your memory—both short-term and long-term—you have to focus your attention on it. In very simple terms, the more intently you focus on what you want to remember, the more likely your retention of that item will be.[1] This is, in fact, how our brains are designed.

When focusing on something, you are telling your brain that this is something important to take note of because you might have to use it again in the future.[2] Focusing better can help you improve your memory.

Although focus is a necessary condition for memory, it’s not always a sufficient condition. The information you have just stored by concentrating isn’t necessarily easily accessible.

Focusing your attention on something is like having a huge storehouse that you just randomly chuck in what you want to memorize. You know it’s in there somewhere, but it can be terribly difficult to locate it when you need it down the line. To make it easier to access, you need to organize it.

To do this, you need to use some other memory devices. There is something called mnemonics, which is the perfect tool for this task.

2. Use Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonics are devices or tricks that you can use to associate with information to make it more memorable. A mnemonic device could be a rhyme, image, sentence, phrase, or something similar.[3]

“PEMDAS”—used to remember the order of operations in math—is an example of a mnemonic device:

  • P – Parenthesis
  • E – Exponents
  • M – Multiplication
  • D – Division
  • A – Addition
  • S – Subtraction

The reason why this is a good mnemonic is that you take something quite tricky to remember by rote, and you make it a whole lot easier to remember by making it into a memorable word.

If you need to remember a particular order of something, make up your own mnemonics. Mnemonics are really useful in remembering words and expanding your vocabulary. Consequently, mnemonics are a great way to improve your memory. To memorize difficult words, say the word out loud a few times and listen to what it sounds like. Then, make a mental image of that.

How to Use Mnemonics?

Let’s say you want to remember the difference between these two words:

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  • Imperious – Arrogant and domineering
  • Impervious – “impervious to…”—unable to be affected by

These two words are easy to confuse with one another. But if we use some mnemonic tricks, suddenly it’s not a problem anymore.

Here is how I would do it.

The word “imperious” sounds a bit like “imperial.” As soon as I think of an imperial person, I see a king or some kind of medieval conqueror. That’s just the association I personally get and if it works for me, that’s all I need. Then, I visualize an arrogant king with a cape and a Hitler mustache pointing his finger and shouting to everyone around him.

If you split up the word “impervious,” it sounds like “imp” (a small, demonic creature) and “pervert.” So, the associations I get is a “pervert imp.”

To remember the meaning of this word, I visualize the following image:

An imp is standing in a park. Everyone around him is furiously throwing stuff at him. They’re angry because the pervert imp has harassed them all. But the imp isn’t affected by any of the stuff that is being thrown at him, because he is impervious to it.

When I hear these two words, I see the images that I just imprinted in my mind and I, therefore, recall the meaning of the words. It might be weird, but it works like a charm.

You probably noticed that I mixed in some mental imagery here. It wasn’t purely by the help of mnemonics that I memorized this. There is a very good reason for that.

The truth is, it’s hard to avoid imagery when it comes to memorization. Images are even more important than mnemonics. Let me tell you why.

3. Form Mental Images

Making mental images is the secret that underpins everything that has to do with having an impressive memory. Knowing how to improve your memory requires learning how to form mental images.

If you watch some memory athletes perform amazing feats of memorization, it’s the mental images that go through their heads that make the magic happen.

Tony Buzan, a Messiah when it comes to memorization, says it himself:[4]

“The art and science of memory is about developing the capacity to quickly create images that link disparate ideas.”

The reason why you think you might have a bad memory (or at least not an amazing one) is simply that you haven’t developed the capacity to quickly recall images in your head. It takes a bit of effort to do this. But in my opinion, it’s absolutely worth doing it.

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You don’t have to use these powerful techniques just to memorize menial information like phone numbers and shopping lists. You can use them to memorize useful information like books, articles, concepts, etc.—stuff you can put into your long-term memory that makes you smarter and information that gives you an edge in debates.

This is what makes me excited about the art of memorization.

We Remember Images Better Than Everything Else

The scientific answer to why making mental images is such a powerful memorization technique can be explained by how the human brain evolved throughout history when we were hunter-gatherers.

Back in those days, we didn’t need to remember speeches, passwords, lists, and concepts. Instead, what we did have to memorize were features in nature, such as where to find food, what food that was edible, and the route back to the camp.[5]

This is highly visual stuff. And since these were the skills that our ancestors’ survival depended on, we developed these abilities.

Foer further comments:

“The point of memory techniques is to … take the kinds of memories our brains aren’t good at holding on to and transform them into the kinds of memories our brains were built for.”

How Does One Form Mental Images?

First, you need to make a mind palace so you have somewhere to store the images. In your head, visualize a house or building that you know really well. It’s important that you can clearly see how it is furnished as well.

The next step is to create the images. I’m going to give you a real-life example so you can get a sense of how to actually go about doing this.

I often listen to podcasts while I’m cooking, cleaning, or doing any other menial tasks. Often, something really noteworthy comes up. I want to make sure this piece of information won’t be lost, so I put it in my mind palace.

I have several mind palaces that I fill with images. One for each book or subject I want to memorize things from. One mind palace I have is for things I happen to come across from podcasts.

Recently, I was listening to a podcast where Dr. Giles Fraser was interviewing Jonathan Sacks, a well known philosophical rabbi in Britain. Jonathan Sacks mentioned a phrase called “Impact Economics,” a term which suggests that a company should be judged not only by its profit but by its social impact on people’s lives.

I wanted to remember this term and its meaning, so I placed it in my mind palace like this:

First, I selected what section of the mind palace I wanted to attach the image to. In my case, it was by the corner in one of the rooms.

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The image I created was Scrooge McDuck worshipping a massive pile of coins (economics). Then, a meteor comes crashing down (impact). The corner of the building is shattered and the coins spread around to the other people in the room who manically grab as much as they can. It has been a positive social impact since they are now all getting some money.

To recall the information I have memorized, I take a “mental walk” through my mind palace. I will see all the images I have created there and therefore, recall the information attached to the images.

Making Your Images More Memorable

Making your mental images more memorable allows you to improve your memory more effectively. The more wild, colorful, exaggerated, and vivid you make the image, the better you will remember it. Also, it matters where you exactly place your images in your mind palace. You must attach it to a section of a room or a piece of furniture, so it stays there permanently.

As you can see, this technique may seem totally bizarre and would surely put off a lot of people. So, why would anyone want to use such a silly, ludicrous technique?

It might be ludicrous, but it works. It’s one of the best tools for memorization that we have.

4. Review and Repetition

Now, you have some really powerful tools to initially insert and organize information in your memory. But this information is still only in your short-term memory.

You have two options. You can either place this information in your long-term memory, or you can let it slowly degrade from your memory and forget about it altogether.

Which one do you want? Well, why on earth would you want to go to such great lengths to just temporarily remember something?

If it’s a shopping list, fine. Please let it degrade. But as I mentioned earlier, I’m personally not very interested in memorizing short-term stuff like shopping lists and information you can easily lookup. I am more interested in information that should go into your long-term memory, and that’s what this section is all about.

The keywords when it comes to putting something into your long-term memory are “review” and “repetition.” These are important techniques for you to improve your memory.

We Don’t Remember Things Without Repetition

As soon as you learn something new, it goes into the temporary holding place for memory called short-term memory. It is then forgotten shortly after learning it because your brain disregards it as something without value. This is because you haven’t used it for anything after you learned it yet.

To remember something for a long time, you need to tell your brain that it is important so that it will create permanent connections between your brain cells. You do this by reviewing the material a few times.

By repeating it regularly, you tell your brain that it is worth remembering. It has no choice but to finally place it in your long-term memory.[6]

The most efficient way of reviewing material is with a technique called “spaced repetition.”

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Improve Your Memory Using Spaced Repetition

Spaced repetition is a memorization and learning technique that involves gradually increasing the time gap between each point of repetition. It’s a neat way for you to improve your memory without too much effort.

Spaced repetition has been tested by psychologists and has proven to be more successful than repeating previously learned material at random intervals. This is because spaced repetition takes advantage of your brain’s psychological spacing effect. What this essentially means is that you review the material at the point just when you’re about to forget it.[7]

For each time you review the information, it takes longer and longer for the memory to degrade. With enough repetitions at just the right time, you will strengthen the connections between your brain cells and make the memory permanent.[8]

If you want to use spaced repetition, I recommend using an app called Anki. It does everything for you.

It functions like digital flashcards. You create questions that test your memory of whatever it is that you want to remember. Then, you create the answer to each question. When you go through each question, you click on a button to display the answer.

If you answered correctly, the answer will come up again in a few days. If you’re wrong, the question will come up again almost straight away.

So, what this and similar apps do is to make sure that you review the information that you can easily recall less frequently and the stuff that you find hard to remember more frequently. A good way to make sure you remember the images in your mind palace is to make them into flashcards for Anki.

As for the question, write whatever it is that you are trying to memorize. Then, write a short description of your mental image as the answer. Before you view the answer, visualize the image in your head. This will strengthen your memory of the image.

Final Thoughts

There you go. Four proven ways to improve your memory and learning speed.

If creating a mind palace seems like a lot of work, the shortcut is to just remember these three key points:

  • Get into the habit of forming a mental image of what you want to remember. The wilder and more absurd, the better.
  • What you focus intently on, your brain remembers.
  • Use mnemonic devices as described earlier in the article.

This is definitely going to give you a substantial memory boost and make you learn faster.

More Tips on How to Improve Your Memory

Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Sindre Kaupang

Entrepreneur and filmmaker, founder of Productive Headspace and Beyond Music

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Last Updated on February 23, 2021

5 Best Fish Oil Supplements to Buy For A Healthier Brain

5 Best Fish Oil Supplements to Buy For A Healthier Brain

There are many ways that we can make our brains healthier. We use our brains constantly, but we train them through studying, learning, and recalling, among other things. But the issue with these methods is that they only help support particular parts of the brain. They are specialized activities that require certain parts of the rain to work, but they do not support the brain as a whole. So, if you’re looking for ways to help every part of your brain, the best thing you can consider is getting the best fish oil supplements.

Like with all kinds of supplements, fish oil supplements provide a high dosage of vitamins that help support and improve particular parts of your body.

The Benefits of Fish Oil

Fish oil is one of the most common dietary supplements used by people. Broadly speaking, these supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are great for your health in many ways. Below are just some of their most important, proven benefits:

  • Studies show that those who eat fish are at a lower risk of experiencing heart problems.[1] Supplements like these are common and provide the same health benefits as eating fish
  • Omega-3 also boosts brain function, reducing various mental conditions like bipolar and schizophrenia.[2]
  • Fish oil supplements can also reduce weight and prevent type-2 diabetes and even some cancers.[3]
  • They can also help improve eyesight as our eyes greatly rely on omega-3 fats.[4]

Why Fish Oil Supplements Help Boost Your Energy

As you can tell from the benefits already, having high omega-3 levels greatly and positively impacts our brains. Not only can it prevent mental disorders, but it also has ways of alleviating mood swings, depression, and fatigue. Research shows that consuming lower amounts of omega-3s can result in more mood swings, fatigue, and depression.[5]

Therefore, having a daily dose of fish oil supplements is a way of keeping yourself energized, especially since fatigue primarily stems from our brain. If your brain is filled with energy and isn’t feeling sluggish, your body will also feel the same way.

How To Pick the Best Fish Oil Supplements

When selecting some of the best fish oil supplements available on the market, we based our decision on the following criteria:

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  • High in Omega-3 – Every fish oil supplement will have Omega-3 and it’s a vital ingredient, but many brands vary on how much their products contain this fatty acid. We selected the ones that have a high amount.
  • Has multiple vitamins – Even though supplements are designed to have many vitamins, the benefits can be self-contained in certain areas and don’t synergize. The ones we selected provide benefits that help your body in multiple ways.
  • Purity – Supplements can often be grounds to include all kinds of unnecessary ingredients. The ones we picked are packed with only the essential vitamins you need.

5 Best Fish Oil Supplements

Here are the 5 best fish oil supplements we picked that you should definitely try:

1. Infuel Omega 3 Fish Oil

    Our first pick of the best fish oil supplement available is the Infuel brand of Omega 3 fish oil. We have this available in our own stores because of the numerous benefits that it provides. Not only does it contain the Omega 3 healthy fats but also high EPA and DHA content that helps with the growth and development of the eyes, nervous system, and heart.[6]

    As such, you’ll find regular doses of these promoting brain and heart health. It also helps with maintaining healthy bones and joints and can help improve your skin and sleep cycle.

    Buy the Infuel Omega 3 Fish Oil Here.

    2. California Gold Nutrition Omega 3 Premium Fish Oil

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      Our second pick for the best fish oil supplements is the supplement provided by California Gold Nutrition. Their premium fish oil supplement has gone through a process where the supplement provides a respectable amount of EPA and DHA (360mg and 240mg respectively) as well as fish oil. It’s to the point where it’s recommended that you take two of these capsules per day.

      Their process also ensures that the softgels the supplement comes in are porcine, bovine-free, and don’t contain gluten, GMOs, and soy. Overall, if you’re looking for an option to having plenty of fish oil, this is a great option.

      Pick up California Gold Nutrition’s Fish Oil Supplement here.

      3. Sports Research Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength

        For those looking for a higher dosage of fish oil, EPA, and DHA, one option is the fish oil supplement from Sports Research. Unlike the other options on this list, this fish oil supplement is marketed as a dietary supplement. The reason for that is because a single Omega 3 softgel already contains over 80% of your daily dose of fish oil as well as 950mg of EPA and DHA.[7] The dosage amount easily exceeds the Global Organization’s minimum contents of EPA and DHA.

        Beyond that, it’s also made from non-GMO ingredients, and it’s gluten-free. This fish oil supplement is also made from sustainable seafood.

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        Purchase Sports Research Fish Oil Supplement here.

        4. Natrol Omega 3 Fish Oil Natural Lemon Flavor

          One factor that people might have that we didn’t mention on the list is flavor. While what we offer is quality, sometimes, people can’t handle the flavor of some quality products. So, for those who have a particular taste for vitamins, one option to consider is Natrol’s fish oil supplement. This supplement offers a natural lemon flavor thanks to its natural lemon oil ingredient.

          Beyond that, you can expect a middle-of-the-road amount of EPA, DHA, and fish oil with the company suggesting to take one softgel two times a day with a meal. The only real downside to this particular supplement is that you’re giving up a few details and benefits for better flavor. Unlike the other supplements mentioned, this does contain gelatine from bovine, though it’s kept at a minimum.

          Buy Natrol’s Omega 3 Fish Oil Supplement here.

          5. Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil

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            The final fish oil supplement on this list is the one from Nature’s Bounty. Nature’s Bounty has been committed to people’s health for almost 50 years at this point, and this company is known for making trusted products that are well-researched, backed by science, and made from pure ingredients. Their odorless fish oil supplement is no different.

            Nature’s Bounty product is marketed as a dietary supplement so you can expect a higher amount of EPA, DHA, and Omega-3 in them than usual. Even so, it’s recommended to take two softgels two times a day. These supplements are non-GMO and gluten-free, too.

            Purchase Nature’s Bounty’s Fish Oil here.

            Bottom Line

            While training your brain via certain brain activities and eating plenty of healthy fatty foods will help, we understand that not everyone can meet their Omega-3 requirements. Some people may also have medical conditions that force them to take extra steps in maintaining a healthy brain. This is where supplements shine as they offer plenty of high dosages for the nutrients that your body needs and provide several other benefits as well.

            If you decide to choose any of the listed fish oil supplements, I assure you that you will get a good quality product to help boost your brainpower.

            More Articles About the Benefits of Fish Oil

            Featured photo credit: Anshu A via unsplash.com

            Reference

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