Brain Coach Answers: How can I improve my short term memory? Is there a daily exercise I can do to improve it?

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:

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  1. Hueina Su on November 19, 2006 at 8:07

    Great infor­ma­tion and strate­gies! Thank you for sub­mit­ting to the Car­ni­val of Healing.

  2. Caroline on November 20, 2006 at 12:53

    Glad you enjoyed it Hueina! For those of you who want to read Car­ni­val of Heal­ing #60, click here.

  3. haris on March 26, 2007 at 4:22

    my name is haris.I am from pakistan,lahore .The math­od of link math­od is so easy and his writer is har­ry lurine.example
    we remem­ber= tree,aeroplane,letters,tops how to remem­ber it.It so easy first link with aero plane and tree link redi­clous and illog­i­cal­ly you see in your mind in the tree lots of planes is

  4. Alvaro on March 26, 2007 at 7:37

    Hel­lo Haris: yes, visu­al­iz­ing fun­ny asso­ci­a­tions is anoth­er tech­nique to remem­ber things. Thanks!

  5. Nyiligira john on May 20, 2007 at 4:44

    How can i improve my short term mem­o­ry and con­cen­tra­tions, effec­tive think­ing and clarity.please i want advice

  6. Alvaro on May 21, 2007 at 5:57

    Hel­lo John, on top of the advice above, I’d sug­gest you take a look at our Brain Fit­ness Top­ics sec­tion. You will find great infor­ma­tion there.

  7. chukwutem on August 1, 2008 at 9:06

    It was a won­der­ful lec­ture i enjoyed it very much.Please keep up the good work.

  8. Mike on August 28, 2008 at 10:05

    I dis­agree with the state­ment “(If some­one tells you they can do their home­work bet­ter with the TV or radio on, don’t believe it. Any speech or speech-like sounds auto­mat­i­cal­ly use up part of your brain’s atten­tion capac­i­ty, whether you are aware of it or not.)”. For me, lis­ten­ing to very soft music helps me focus. If I don’t have music on, my atten­tion span drops dra­mat­i­cal­ly. It has been this way for many years.

  9. nyra on September 8, 2008 at 4:50

    Hel­lo. Thanks so much for this web­site, it is very helpful!

    I’m actu­al­ly doing a sci­ence project on short term/long term mem­o­ry and how you can improve it. I’m test­ing to see if Brain Age (the video game) excer­sizes can help.

    This web­site has been great so far, and if you have any oth­er info, I’d love to hear it! Thanks!

  10. KASI on October 20, 2009 at 8:44

    Com­mitt­ment with con­cen­tra­tion is the key to short,medium or long term meme­o­ry. Some of our Kids age events are mem­o­rable even today because we did them with com­mit­ted con­cen­traion whether play­ing or angry­ing or naugh­t­ing. But at this adult age we think some thing , tel out someother thing and do entire­ly dif­fer­ent thing whcih dis­ables us to rec­ol­lect our thoughts, words and deeds after moments.

  11. John Barrella on October 21, 2009 at 12:59

    So, what is most need­ed, is the instill in your “awareness”…of what the heck is “wrong”. By know­ing what is wrong…then you can learn how to com­pen­sate for it. Neuropsych.testing…plus cog­ni­tive reme­di­a­tion classes…for as long as they are need­ed. Look into that…and if you get that assistance…you may become aware of symp­toms you may have nev­er thought of having…that may sound scary…BUT…THERE IS COMFORT OF AWARENESS…which will be a gift…a tremen­dous gift…Ninuccio

  12. Faruk on November 20, 2009 at 4:59

    I appre­ci­ate every thing about the short/long brain term. When i was younger, i could assim­i­late and remem­ber very fast. But now the sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent. I will try and employ d strate­gies and see if i will improve

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SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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