From Sort-Term Memory to Long-Term Memory

Generally, when you think about memory, you can think about short-term memory, which is when you try to remember a telephone number. ‘It’s easy for the first few numbers but it gets harder as the amount of numbers to remember increases.

Then there’s long-term memory, which is involved when an individual remembers something like the address of the house they grew up in. That’s something I’ll never forget.’

In other words, short-term memory has a small capacity, holding about four to seven items at a time, whereas long-term memory holds considerably more. In fact, its capacity has proved hard to measure. The challenge for us then is to translate this knowledge into practice.

The key is to understand a few core ideas about how to retain information. A basic principle is that by ”elaborating” memories, we can remember more information.

Start with the things you know and add new bits of information into the bits you already know about. That will help you in elaborating the memory and making connections between the bits of information.

Active study methods such as rewriting information in your own words, quizzing yourself or trying to teach somebody else are also helpful, as is ”spaced repetition”; that is, leaving intervals between study sessions. The act of retrieving information helps to encode that memory better

Then there’s lifestyle. Getting plenty of sleep, healthy eating and exercising can improve long-term memory, in some cases by fostering the birth of new neurons in the brain and reducing stress.

‘The further ahead you start studying the better it’s going to be. If information is not accessed or used, then it’s forgotten so the more often you come back to that information or apply it then the more likely it’s going to be entrenched in your long-term memory.

There is no short cut to memorisation, there is no magic. There is no secret to having good memory, besides taking time to think and understand what you are learning.

Summing-up: Basically, you are able to learn when you are physically well, and you have mastered the vocabulary of the subject you are learning. Once you can understand what the words mean, then focus on allowing yourself the simple decency of time.

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