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Mentalrobics™

You exercise your body to stay physically in shape, so why shouldn't you exercise your brain to stay mentally fit? With these daily exercises you will learn how to flex your mind, improve your creativity and boost your memory. As with any exercise, repetition is necessary for you to see improvement, so pick your favorite exercises from our daily suggestions and repeat them as desired. Try to do some mentalrobics every single day!

OK4R is a study system similar to SQ3R that can be used when you are trying to learn material from a textbook. OK4R is an acronym for the steps: Overview, Key Ideas, Read, Recall, Reflect, and Review.

Overview

Read the headings, introduction, table of contents, and summaries to get a general idea about what the text is about.

Key Ideas

Go over the text again and look for key ideas. These are usually located in the first sentence of each paragraph and in diagrams and captions.

Read

Read the material. This is frequently the only step that students perform.

Recall

Close the book and immediately try to recall the main points of what you have read. This will help solidify the information in your mind.

Reflect

We've discussed before how meaningfulness can help improve learning. In this step, try to relate what you have read to things that you already know. Try to find significance in what you have learned.

Review

At a later time, go over the text again to review material and refresh your memory. If you notice anything that you have forgotten, study those parts again.

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One aspect that affects your ability to remember something is how meaningful the information is to you. A doctor is more likely to remember medical facts than a lawyer, who is in turn more likely to remember legal information. What this means is that the more you know about a topic, the faster you will learn additional information. The familiarity and meaningfulness of the information will provide cues to help your memory.

You can use this to help make material that you want to learn more meaningful. If the topic you are trying to learn is unfamiliar, try relating it to something familiar. As you study, see if you can find similarities to something that you are very knowledgeable about. The more familiar things that you can associate with a particular fact, the more ways that you will have to remember that fact.

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There is no evidence that significant learning can occur if you are not consciously aware of the process. Thus, learning while in deep sleep is not possible. Learning when you are barely asleep is possible, but it isn't very efficient because it's difficult to avoid waking up or falling into deep sleep. In any case, learning during light sleep only works for simple facts and the facts must be reinforced while awake.

Some studies show that you remember less if you study shortly after waking up, so it might be a good idea to give yourself some extra time in the morning before doing any memory-intensive tasks. Other studies show that people can remember information better if they go to sleep immediately after studying it. Perhaps this is because the mind continues to process the information during sleep.

Additionally, numerous studies have shown that you cannot remember material if it is presented in a subliminal manner. So, subliminal learning and subliminal advertising is not effective. When it comes down to it, there is no shortcut to learning the old fashioned way.

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You may remember that most memory problems occur at the retrieval step in memory. There are four common explanations for why we often fail to retrieve the information that is recorded in our minds.

One type of forgetting is a result of repression. This usually only applies to traumatic or unpleasant experiences that we are motivated to forget.

Another type of memory problem is related to the accuracy of recalling certain memories. As we age, memories may become distorted to reflect the way we want to remember them or the way other people have remembered them. Sometimes couples who have been married for a long time remember things that happened to the other person as if they had happened to themselves.

A common type of forgetting is due to interference with another memory. Something you learn now may interfere with a memory from the past, and vice versa. The more similar the memories, the more likely they are to interfere with each other. For example, remembering this week's grocery list may make it harder to recall what was on last week's grocery list. Memory techniques can be employed to reduce interference.

The last type of forgetting is due to your inability to find the right cue to find the memory. This results in the "tip-of-the-tongue" phenomenon where you know that you know the information and you just need something to jog your memory.

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Long-term memory differs from Short-Term Memory in several ways. From a practical point of view, it is mostly permanent and has an almost unlimited capacity. The recollection of childhood memories through hypnosis or other methods shows the permanence and large capacity of long-term memory. Additionally, it cannot be disrupted by things that can affect short-term memory. From a biological point of view, each type of memory has a different nerve chemistry and is affected differently by various drugs and diseases.

There are three types of long-term memory. The first is called "Procedural Memory." This is how you remember skills such as riding a bike or dialing a phone. The second type of memory is called "Semantic Memory." It helps you remember facts such as the color of your hair or your mother's name. The last type of memory is called "Episodic Memory." This kind is how you remember personal memories such as your last birthday party.

Each type of memory can benefit from different memory techniques. Most students are interested in improving and using their semantic memory. Elderly people are frequently more interested in their episodic memories and babies are very active in using their procedural memories.

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