We all lead such busy lives these days that sometimes our brains get “too full” and we feel like we have no more room for any additional information. And it’s not just adults who suffer! As my 8-year-old niece often says, “It fell out of my ear,” meaning her head is too stuffed with facts to fit one more in there, LOL. Having a full brain can certainly make retrieving a particular fact difficult, but I recently read an article by a psychologist with tips that might help us remember the important stuff:
-When introduced to someone new, try to immediately repeat their name back to them, as in “Nice to meet you, Joan” or “My mother’s name is Joan, too!” This helps cement a name to a face.
-Imagine their name written across their forehead. The name will make more of an impression if the person is bald, has bangs, etc. The individualness of their forehead will help trigger name recollection next time you see them.
-Always break down long strings of numbers into groups of three. Our brains are somehow wired to remember information in groups of three (“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” or “I came, I saw, I conquered” etc.)
Strings of data:
-One of the oldest and best-known retrieval cues is still the most effective: the mnemonic. Roy G. Biv helps us remember the colors of the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) and HOMES helps us remember the names of the Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior). Whenever possible, come up with a simple, catchy word or phrase that will help prompt you to remember a string of data.
There are also some general tips for improving memory:
-Don’t skimp on sleep. Instead of staying up all night cramming for an exam or trying to figure out the next plot twist for your novel, you’d be better off getting a full night’s rest so you brain is fresh are ready-to-think the next day.
-You are what you eat. Stay away from brain-sluggish food like saturated and trans fats, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables, especially blueberries and Brussels sprouts! (Okay, maybe not Brussels sprouts, but definitely walnuts…)
-Read a print book. Studies done in Norway showed volunteers remembered more information they read in a print book than the same information they read on a computer screen (or tablet, or phone).
-Chew it over. Psychologists from the University of Northumbria found that volunteers who chewed gum retained more information after a 20-minute memory test than volunteers who did not chew gum. Chewing gum increases heart rate, so maybe more oxygen gets delivered to your brain while you chew, oxygen that can aid in memory!
-Have a latte. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that volunteers were able to recall more images if they drank the equivalent of one cup of strong coffee immediately after studying a series of images.
All this scientific stuff is fascinating, but remember, if all else fails, try tying that string around your finger. It actually does work!
What about you? Any tips or tricks that have helped you remember things? Let me know!