1. Registering the information.
2. Storing the information.
3. Retrieving the information.
The types of memory are split into three major groups:
1. Sensory memory- a representative example of this type of memory is when glancing at a sheet of data and then glancing away; the first few milliseconds glancing away allows you to still see the data as if it was just in front of you, however this memory lasts for only a few hundred milliseconds and by the time you attempt to recall it the information is gone.
2. Short term memory- this is memory that can be recalled between a few seconds to a minute after first being encountered. Some research suggests that encoding of the information is mainly acoustic rather than visual.
3. Long term memory- through repetition (or the techniques presented in this chapter) information can be stored in long term memory- which refers to periods of years up to a lifetime. Research suggests that Long term memory is primarily encoded semantically. The hippocampus is a part of the brain believed to be essential in the transferral of memories from short term to long term storage.
Sleep is considered a crucial component in this process of consolidating information.
Without using any techniques, it is sensible to realise that lifestyle choices have a strong effect on cognitive functioning- crucial factors are regular and adequate amount of sleep, balanced diet, physical activity and limiting stress.
Assuming no stress factors, forgetting is still a natural process that the brain follows, the main factors are:
1. Cue-dependent forgetting- failure to remember the information due to the lack of stimuli that was present when it was first encoded.
2. Trace Decay- it is believed that new information causes a set of neurons to create a neurological memory trace in the brain- this trace naturally fades with time. However, with repetition the synapses experience a structural change after which the memory moves from being short term to long term. There are several competing theories for the existence of trace decay:
a. Interference theory- competition/conflict between old and new information.
b. Decay theory- disintegration of the neurochemical trace overtime- it is believed that this happens in order to ensure that only the most important traces are kept so that brain works most efficiently for processes that are critical for survival or deemed significant.
c. Organic- physiological damage or disease.
In order to remember something we need to first pay attention to it, but we tend to only pay attention to topics or events that are of interest to us or are of survival significance.
The idea behind most memory system is to ‘trick’ the mind into believing that the concept being memorised is out of the ordinary (thus interesting) or so shockingly unusual that it triggers primal emotions (survival significance).
It is simple to notice then that any memory system would need to take the information and add spice or emotion to it before it can be committed to memory.
We therefore introduce the ‘tools’ that would allow us to implement a system:
Images- Images are the crux of the memory techniques presented here. Use objects that the words represent or convert abstract concepts into images- then apply the techniques.
Link method- this is the method used to take two pieces of information at a time and connect them together, replicating the natural way in which new information is incorporated by the brain. For example say you wanted to memorise a list of items, one way to do so is to link each item to the next: Shoes, sofa, hose, coffee, iPad, orange, kettle In essence we would need to link shoes to sofa to hose to coffee to iPad to orange to kettle. The idea is to link each item we do not know to an item we already know.
There are several ways to do this:
Logic- if a logical connection exists between the items and the list does not allow the possibility for confusion- logic can be used to remember it. Unfortunately, the list above does not have an obvious logical representation and the list is not short so a different tool needs to be employed:
Creative linking - this is the ‘glue’ of memory systems: using this technique, one can link any items in any order without the need for a logical connection between them.
The idea behind this method is to employ the 2 basic principles behind the imprint of any memory:
a. The need to pay attention- we do so by creating exaggerated pictures that are unusual, full of colour, have nonsensical action, are novel and interesting- most importantly they need to be absurd.
b. The need to make the picture of primal significance (through emotions) - in connection with the above, the picture that we create needs to evoke emotions (e.g. hilarious, scary, disgusting, confusion, lust etc).
The Manual- A guide to the Ultimate Study Method (USM); covering Speed Reading, Super Memory, Laser Concentration, Rapid Mental Arithmetic and the Ultimate Study Method (USM) by Rod Bremer