Developing your memory and mental performance
By Gabriel Akpan
Memory enlarges our world. Without it, we would lack a sense of continuity and each morning encounter a stranger staring back from the mirror. Each day and event would exist in isolation, we can either learn from the past or anticipate the future (mysteries of the mind).
Why is it that some birds can remember months later, the places where they stored up seeds in the winter and squirrels can remember the locations where they buried nuts, but we might forget where we left our keys an hour ago! This points to the fact that, memory is more than recalling information. It’s an important work skill that you can develop and improve on. The human brain, has an amazing capacity to learn and remember. Your ability to remember is a major advantage.
The human brain weighs about three pounds and is roughly the size of a grape fruit, yet, it contains 100 billion neurons or nerve cells, all of which form an incredibly complex network. One neuron may be connected to 100,000 others. The wiring gives the brain the potential to process and retain a vast amount of information. The challenge of course, is for a person to recall the information when it’s needed. Some excel at this, including many with little, if any or no secular education.
IMPROVING YOUR MEMORY
Memory involves three stages: encoding, storage and retrieval. Your brain encodes information when it perceives it and registers it. This information can then be stored for future retrieval. Memory failure occurs when any one of these three stages breaks down.
Memory itself has been divided into various kinds including sensory memory, short-term and long- term memory. Sensory memory receives information for stimuli through the senses, such as smell, sight and touch. Short term memory also called working memory holds small information for brief periods. Thus we can sum up numbers in our head, remember a telephone number long enough to dial it and remember the first half of a sentence while reading or listening to the second half. Nevertheless, short-term memory has its limit.
If you must store information indefinitely, it must be in your long-term memory. How can this be processed and achieved? The following principles can speed up that viz:
- Interest:- develop a passion in the subject and constantly remind yourself the reason.
Experiences in life informs us that our memories can be enhanced when we set our mind, body and soul to it i.e involving emotions.
- Attention: – most memory failure actually occurs due to lack of absorption according to the book “mysteries of the mind”. What can help you to pay attention? Be observant and where possible take note and review the materials later.
- Understanding: – with all that you acquire, acquire understanding according to the bible. If you lack an understanding of a concept or teaching, you can never remember. Always ask questions were you seem lost, this will help a long way to help you in retaining that which you have heard or seen.
- Organization: – categorize similar concept or ideas, also divide information into manageable chunks say about five to seven times.
- Recitation or verbalization: – repeating aloud what you want to remember will strengthen the nerve connections. How this concept does works? Firstly- saying the word in a repeated manner forces you to pay close attention to what you hear. Secondly- always wait for a feed- back. Thus, listening to yourself calls into play other parts of your brain.
- Visualization: – make a mental picture of what you wish to remember. You might also draw or map it out. Visualization makes use of different parts of your brain. The more senses you use, the deeper the information is embedded.
- Association: – when you hear words for the first time, always try to link it with something you already know. Liking thoughts to memories already stored makes encoding and retrieving easier. We need to think about the people and things we want to remember. According to the book “ searching for memory state”- if we operate on automatic pilot much of the time and do not reflect on our environment and our experiences, we may, pay a price by retaining only sketchy memories of where we have been and what we have done.
- Consolidation: – allow time for the information to be processed, this saves up information in our brain the way it is. One of the best ways to do this, is to review what you have learned.
Additional tips to improving your memory
- Stimulate your memory by learning new skill. New language or a musical instrument
- Focus your attention on the most important things
- Drink sufficient water, dehydration causes mental confusion
- Get enough sleep. During sleep, the brain stores up memories.
- Relax why studying, stress triggers the release of cortisol which can disrupt nerve interactions
- Avoid alcohol abuse and smoking. Alcohol interferes with short-term memory and alcoholism can lead to a deficiency of thiamine, vitamin-B that is essential to the proper working of the memory. Smoking causes reduction of oxygen supply to the brain based on the information published in the electronic magazine – “Brain & Mind”.