Your brain remembers things by their meaning. If you spend a little effort extra up front to create meaning, you’ll need less effort later to recall it. When you read or hear a word you don’t already know — for example, “phocine” — your brain has to work harder. First, you have to remember how to spell it long enough to look it up in a dictionary. There, you’ll see it means “seal-like” and it’s pronounced “fo-sine.” Now picture a seal in your mind and repeat the word aloud. Even say “Fo! Fo! Fo!” aloud like a seal barking. The sound of the word, its spelling, the image of a seal, and the barking all work together to form memory links. The more links the better to help you trigger the word later on, when you want to use it to describe, say, a sunbather in a black one-piece.
Say you’re on vacation in Maui, staying at a beachfront hotel in room #386. How do you remember that? Method number one: Pause for a minute to take a mental snapshot of your room door viewed from an outside vantage point. Then, when you return to that same vantage point, you’ll know which door is yours. Method number two: Stop and think for a minute. You’re on the third floor, which is the top floor of the hotel, so the number 3 is easy. Now for the 8 and the 6. The expression “to eighty-six” comes to mind — as in to get rid of, do away with, or throw out. As in what your boss will do to you if you decide to spend an extra week in Maui. Done.
You will find more related information on how to improve short-term memory by checking out these resources:
- Collection of brain teasers and games: attention, memory, problem-solving, visual, and more.
- Does brain training work? Yes, if it meets these 5 conditions
- What are cognitive abilities?
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