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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!

The Loci Mnemonic System works very well for memorizing lists. Lists are difficult to memorize because the items usually have no relation to each other and have no context to anything else that might help you remember them. The loci system helps because it changes the task from recall to aided recall by using paired associate learning. The loci locations, which you cannot forget, act as an aid to the items that you can forget.

Another advantage of the loci system is that forgetting one item in the list does not affect your ability to recall the remaining items. This is a problem that the simpler Link system has.

If you frequently have to remember lists and you have not yet invested the time to learn the loci system, you might want to give it a try.

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Most teachers do not want their students to simply memorize facts. Teachers tend to put more emphasis on advanced skills such as reasoning, problem solving and synthesis. Memorization is seen as a lesser skill, and as a result most classrooms do not teach mnemonics. What is often overlooked is that memorization is a necessary first step. If the students cannot remember the facts, there is little hope that they will be able to use them to solve problems or synthesize new ideas. With effective mnemonic instruction, students could get past the memorization step much more quickly and spend more time on advanced educational goals.

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If you have ever walked into a room and forgotten why you walked in there, you have experienced one of most common types of absentmindedness. If this happens to you, look around the room and see if something jogs your memory. Mentally retrace your steps and think about what you were doing when you decided to go into the room. If you still can't remember, go back to what you were doing. Frequently, when you stop trying to remember something it will pop right into your head.

To prevent this from happening in the future you can try two things. When you decide to go into another room, visualize yourself doing what you need to do, or tell yourself what you are going to do. For example, "I need to get my shoes." By doing either of these things you are ensuring that the task gets into your short-term memory.

When you are walking to the other room, try not to get distracted. This can delay you long enough for your short-term memory to forget what you need to do.

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The average person's short-term memory can only hold 7 pieces of information for about 30 seconds. If you want to get something into your long-term memory, you're going to need to remember it for at least 30 seconds.

This is probably why it's easy to forget someone's name moments after hearing it. The name only sticks in your brain for 30 seconds, and unless you do something to push it into your long-term memory, you are going to forget it.

To get more than 7 items at a time into your long-term memory, you can try the Chunking Technique we discussed yesterday. Repetition can also help.

But remember, having a limited short-term memory is a good thing! Imagine how cluttered your mind would be if you remembered every single thing that went into it.

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Did you ever wonder why phone numbers and credit card numbers are separated into little groups of numbers? It's to help you remember them!

Chunking is the technique of taking smaller objects and grouping them into larger objects so they can be more easily remembered. It's much easier to remember 65-74-81-32 than it is to remember 65748132.

Try remembering the letters TRTESEL. Now try remembering the same letters in this order: LETTERS. Because your brain is remembering a word instead of 7 random letters, it doesn't have to work as hard. Essentially, you have compressed more information into a single chunk.

The next time you are trying to remember a list of small items, try chunking them together so you can fit more information into your short term memory.

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