Get Immediate Results to Improve your Memory

If we take advantage of the way the mind naturally processes information we can improve both our ability to learn and later to recall this information. The technique below is a simple approach that will give you an immediate and noticeable improvement in your memory.

Natural Memory 1: Primacy and Recency

Let say I read you a list of 30 words and then asked you to recall them. Unless you were applying a mnemonic technique, it is highly unlikely that you would recall all of the words but rather you would most likely be able to recall some of the words from the beginning of the list, some from the end but very few from the middle of the list. (If you don't believe me, try it). These effects are known as Primacy (words from the beginning of the list) and Recency (words from the end of the list).

Putting this into practice, it is easy to see why if you study for hours and hours without a break, then the gap in recall between the Primacy and Recency effects would be large, and the majority of this information would be lost.

By splitting up your study time into 30-45 minute chunks with 10 minute breaks in between you create more Primacy / Recency high points and so remember more from your studying. Spending any less time than this makes its hard to get into the flow of learning. During the 10 minute breaks it is important that you relax, do something physical or creative. The breaks will give your mind a chance to rest from learning and doing something different will actually stimulate it.

Natural Memory 2: The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

The German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus pioneered the experimental study of memory, one of his most significant achievements was in proving that within 1-2 days, we forget about 80% of what we have learnt. That seems quite a waste doesn't it? Fortunately he also discovered a way to overcome this problem.

When you stop at the end of a learning session your mind integrates the information that you have just studied so that your ability to recall it actually rises. This ability to recall information during integration peaks after about 10 minutes and then falls off dramatically. If you review what you have learnt at that 10 minute point, you will reinforce the information at its strongest in your mind. You might have noticed this also fits nicely with the 10 minute break tactic above to boost the Primacy and Recency effects. By sitting down to learn some new material for 30-45 minutes then having a 10 minute break where you let your mind focus on something completely different, then coming back for a short review of what you leant in the previous session (this only needs to be a few minutes to be effective), you will get multiple boosts to your ability to remember and recall the information.


By following these steps your ability to recall the information will remain at its maximum for about a day before it begins to drop off again, so after a day has passed do another short review. This second review will reinforce the information in your mind and your ability to recall what you have learnt will remain at a very high level for about another week before it begins to tail off. So again after a week has gone by, do a third review of the information (don’t worry if it seems like a lot of reviews, remember they only have to be a few minutes each). You’ll need to do a couple more reviews, another after a month has passed and then one final review 6 months later, by this point the information will now be locked into your long term memory.

The repeated reviews will have refreshed and built strong neural pathways to the information within your brain making it easy to access and recall.


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