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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!

Cramming for a test usually results in very short lived learning. After cramming, you can almost feel the material leaking out of your brain! This is because you have under-learned the topic and your mind has very little reinforcement of the facts.

Suppose that you study something just to the point where you can recall it without aid and let's say that this takes 1 hour. These facts have barely made it into your long-term memory. If you want to keep them there, you'll need reinforce them with a little over-learning. Aiming for at least 50% over-learning will give you a much better chance at recalling the facts correctly. 50% over-learning in this case would be an additional 30 minutes of study.

Over-learning can also increase your confidence in the material, which has been shown to improve recall.

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If you are trying to remember a list of items, the order of your list makes a big difference. Many studies have shown that items at the beginning and end of a list are easier to remember than items in the middle. You can use this fact to your advantage by placing the harder or more complex items at the end of a list. You could also spend more time on the items in the middle.

For example, suppose you want to memorize some French phrases before going on a trip to France. Try putting the longer and more difficult phrases at the beginning and end of the list and the short simple phrases in the middle.

Another method of making sure you give equal attention to all the items in a list is to use flash cards and shuffle the order every time.

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Have you ever remembered a phone number by visualizing the pattern of telephone button pushes or by using a little math (416-2550: 4 squared is 16, 25 doubled is 50)? If so, then you have already used patterns to help you remember a fact.

Looking for patterns in dates, phone numbers, addresses, etc. will give you a much better chance at remembering the information later. This is because you've instantly made the information more meaningful, you've concentrated on it long enough to push it into long-term memory, and you've chunked it.

In the above example, you only need to remember "4 squared, 25 doubled" which is, at 4 chunks, much easier to remember than the original 7 chunks.

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Finish this sentence, "Fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus..." Almost everybody knows this little rhyme to help remember when Columbus discovered America (answer: "... sailed the ocean blue"). You probably learned this fact several years ago, and you will always remember it because it has been imprinted into your memory using a rhyme.

You can use this technique to help you remember things in your daily life. For example, if you need to remember that you have a doctor's appointment, you could remember the phrase, "When I put on my sock, remember the doc." Now, every morning when you put on your socks, it's likely that you'll remember your rhyme and thus the appointment. Likewise, if you need to remember that your boss is allergic to nuts, you could remember "I'll feel like a klutz if I feed him some nuts."

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Earlier we described the Chunking Technique for remembering small pieces of information. Since the average Short Term Memory can only hold about 7 things, chunking is a great way to increase the value of each of those 7 things. For example, if you were to remember seven 4 letter words instead of seven letters, you will have increased your letter storage by 400%.

Naturally, the bigger you make your chunks, the fewer chunks you are able to remember. The "7 pieces of information" statistic is based on remembering single characters. If you are remembering short words, you'll be limited to around 6 chunks. If you are remembering short sentences the chunk number drops to 2, however at that point you've managed to cram over 40 letters into your brain!

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