How to Improve Your Memory Through Mnemonics

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Sometimes it can be difficult to remember information like what might be on your grocery list or a list of information for work or school.  This is where a memory technique called mnemonics can help.  This system uses things like rhymes, acronyms, and diagrams to aid in memory retrieval to help you remember information like names, dates, facts, or figures.

A very simple example of a mnemonic is the “30 days hath September” rhyme for remembering the number of days in each calendar month.  Mnemonics can make very little sense to those who hear them, but still work very efficiently for the user.  Perhaps it is because a strange or funny mnemonic may stay in the user’s mind better.

The human brain codes and interprets complex information such as images, colors, structures, sounds, smells, tastes, touch, positions, emotions and language.  We use this information to make sophisticated models of the world we live in.  Our memories store all of this information very effectively.  For example, if I mention the word “cloud” you might instantly think of several different word associations like white, fluffy, rain, sky, etc.  In the same way that your brain is able to easily bring up the information associated with the word “cloud”, you can use a mnemonic to bring up information that you have associated with it.  Another example of a mnemonic is the word “scuba”.  Each letter in the word “scuba” stands for something.  It is an acronym for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.

A mnemonic has been commonly used to teach the order of the planets of the universe.  The goal is to remember the order of the planets as follows: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.  Before reading on, create your own sentence by using the first letter of each of the planet names.  My sentence is as follows:  My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Noodles.  You can be as creative as you like with your associations when you are creating mnemonic phrases.  But, try to avoid negative or violent associations because these associations are actually more difficult for your brain to recall.  Stick with positive associations so you can recall the mnemonic images quickly.  Also, another tip to using mnemonics to improve your memory is to make your mnemonic images as memorable as possible.  You should never underestimate the power of humor; the funnier a mnemonic image, the better.

Since the idea behind using mnemonics is to encode difficult-to-remember information in a way that is much easier to remember, it is a very effective way to help you to improve your memory.  So if you are a student preparing for an exam, or your job requires you to recall information, or you simply want to remember the items on your grocery list, the use of mnemonics is a great tool.


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