Enhancing one's memory

Enhancing one's memory

Memory performance can be enhanced when material is linked to the learning context, even while learning under stress, writes K S Someswara.

It is our general thinking that our memory operates like recording equipment. But, this is not true. The mechanism of memory is very dynamic and comprises distinct phases covering a time window from seconds to even a life span.

Research has revealed that our memories are constructed. People can construct their memories when they encode them and/or when they recall them.

 Stress has a significant effect on memory formation and learning. In response to stressful situation, the brain releases hormones and neuro-transmitters which affect memory encoding processes. Chronic stress produces adrenal hormones which impact hippocampus structure in the brain.

Stress experienced during learning process distracts people with diversion of their attention during the memory encoding process.

Memory performance can be enhanced when material is linked to the learning context, even when learning occurs under stress.

Memory is the process by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. Encoding allows external information to reach our senses in the form of chemical and physical stimuli.

Human brain is a very complex system and it cannot be enhanced as that of a computer memory by upgrading the same.

It is the human brain which developed the brain of a computer. Many studies says that even with advanced facilities for research, the researchers understanding of  the functioning of the human brain is very minor percentage.

 Memory is the mental activity of recalling the information that one has learnt or experienced.

Though this is a simple explanation, the process is very complex as it involves different parts of the brain and serves us in innumerable ways.

Short, long term memory

Memory can be short term or long term. In short term memory, mind stores the information only for a few seconds or minutes.

To quote an example: - Time to dial a phone number or the knowledge of rates of different household items which we regularly purchase. Long term memory involves information one makes and his effort (conscious or unconscious) to retain, because it is meaningful to the person and he needs the same.

Short term memory can become long term memory through the process of rehearsal and meaningful association Memory is like muscular strength where ‘use it or lose it’ principle is employed.

More work for one's brain better, he will be able to process and remember.
Novelty and sensory stimulations are the basis for brain exercises. A mega alteration should be done to routine personal work so that the brain is used differently than the normal way:

*Brushing the teeth with the non dominant hand or to organize one’s study table or packing the bag with eyes closed are some of the simple illustrations. Such activity activates the sparingly used non dominant side of the brain.

* Exercising is another method to keep one’s memory sharp. Sometimes we cannot remember what we have learnt and one cannot leave something that is encoded in the brain if attention is not paid to the same.

* When we need to concentrate but are getting distracted easily, multi-tasking should be avoided. Receiving the information in a quiet place is a good proposition.

* Tailor information acquisition to learning style. Most of us are visual learners. Such people learn better by reading and seeing.

*While studying, it is helpful to use different coloured pens. Some are auditory learners, which means by those who learn by listening. This group needs to pay more attention to listening. Involve as many senses as possible even for visual exams. Read out loudly or recite rhythmically, relate the information with colour, texture, or even smell.

* Over learning is another process of enhancing the memory which means review what you have learnt the same day at intervals. This is called ‘spaced rehearsal’. This is more effective than ‘cramming’.

Mnemonic devices

They are clues of any kind that help us remembering something.

* Remembering a sentence or a new word can be an example for the same.

*  Use pleasant images with which brain blokes out unpleasant image and can make the right information more vivid and colourful.

*Regular exercises, stress talk, good eating habits and sleeping methods are also contributory for good memory.

* Talking to oneself saying, “I have got bad memory” hampers the ability of the brain to remember.

Instead, tell yourself that you want to learn what you have to and remember.

Here are some ideas to improve memory:-

* Stay intellectually active through learning, training, or reading and to keep physically active so as to promote blood circulation to the brain.

*Socialising with right people reduces stress.

* Avoid depression or emotional instability.

* Observe good nutrition and also to have a good night’s sleep.

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