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!
The Link System (sometimes called the Chain System) is a very useful technique for learning a series of things in order. To use this system, you must create a visual image of adjacent items on your list. The visualization should have the two objects interacting in some memorable way.
For example, take this list: clown, banana, giraffe, and moon. You might start by visualizing a clown slipping on a banana, then visualize a giraffe with a banana for a neck, and then finish with an image of a giraffe with a neck so long that it can nibble on the moon. This chain of visualizations will help you remember each subsequent item. In this example, the only thing you need to remember is the first word "clown" and the rest will be brought to mind from the visualizations that you created.
This works because it's much easier to remember an image than it is to remember an abstract word. The more vivid your visualizations, the better you will be at remembering them.
If you are worried about forgetting the first word of the chain, you can always link the last word back to the first word (visualize a clown standing on the moon). Now all you need to do is remember any item on the list and you'll be able to get the rest from the circular chain.
The keyword-mnemonic technique is most frequently used to learn foreign word vocabulary, though it can be adapted to other purposes. This technique achieves its effectiveness by encoding information both visually and verbally. This gives you twice the number of aids for aided recall to work.
The first step is to think of an English keyword that is similar to the foreign word. For example, the French word for "fish" is "poisson" so your keyword might be "poison" because it is similar to the French word. Try to pick a noun for the keyword, because it will make the next step easier.
The second step is to visualize an association between your English keyword and the English translation of the foreign word. In this case, we would visualize an association between "fish" and "poison." Maybe you could visualize a toxic pond with all the fish floating on the surface, or maybe you would picture someone eating some fish and then dropping over dead. The more dramatic you make your visualizion, the more effective it will be as a memory tool.
Now, if you need to remember the French word for "fish," you will remember the visual scene and will recall the word "poison." This will lead you to the correct word "poisson."
This technique can also work in reverse - going from the foreign word to the English translation.
Many students misuse the technique of highlighting important parts of their textbook. One common problem is reading the text just to find and highlight facts, instead of reading the text to understand the material. When the student returns to study the highlighted sections, they won't know the context of the facts and learning will be impaired. Another bad habit is highlighting too much information or incorrect information, which will make remembering the material more difficult.
The proper way to highlight a text is to read a section all the way through without highlighting anything. Then think about the important points and summarize the section in your head. Now reread the section and highlight the most important facts. You will only be able to pick out the key phrases after you have truly understood the material.
Another benefit of this method is the use of repetition which will help you remember the important parts of the material. Proper highlighting will give you a good way to review the text later, which will be very helpful if you are using the SQ3R study method.
A mnemonic is a technique for aiding memory. Mnemonic systems involve adding something more memorable to the information you are studying. We have already seen how rhymes can act as a mnemonic. Other examples of mnemonics are acronyms and acrostics.
To create an acronym, take the first letters of the items that you are trying to remember and make a new word out of them. For example the word "BRASS" can be used to remember how to shoot a rifle: Breath, Relax, Aim, Sight, Squeeze. "CART" could be used to remember your grocery list: Carrots, Apples, Radishes, and Turnips.
An acrostic is similar to an acronym, but instead of making a word out of the first letters, you make a sentence. For example, you could remember the phrase "My very educated mother just sent us nine pizzas" to learn the order of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
These mnemonics work by making the material more meaningful and by chunking it. They change the task from recall to aided recall, which is much easier, and they tell you the number of items you are supposed to remember, which can be quite helpful.
Making up acronyms and acrostics can also help stretch your creativity because you'll be inventing new words and silly phrases.
When you learn something, there are several different ways to measure how you remember it. The deepest form of memory is called recall and refers to any piece of information that you can instantly remember (for example: your name). The goal of most studying is to get the information memorized to a point where you can recall it.
One step down from recall is aided recall. This describes the type of memory where you cannot remember it until you are given a hint (for example: your first grade teacher's name starts with a B). Mnemonics help with memories in this stage by providing the cues to help you recall the information. This is why mnemonics work so well! You don't have to study the facts as much in order to remember them.
If you are unable to recall the information, then you may have only memorized the information to the point of recognition. At this stage, you are unable to recall the information even if aided, but once the material is shown to you, you instantly remember it. This is why multiple-choice tests are easier than fill-in-the-blank tests. You only have to recognize the answer, not recall it.
If you learned the fact at some point and now have forgotten it to a point where you can't even recognize it, then your memory may be in the relearnable stage. In this stage, there is some evidence of previous learning because you learn it much faster the second time around. An example of this would be relearning a foreign language that you learned many years ago, but forgot.