One of my favorite shows on Earth, Brain Games, talked about memory. It talked about how our brains work and how we store information.
Did you know that our brain only has 3 seconds to decide whether or not to store the information it receives?
Like Sherlock Holmes said, “Listen. This (referring to his brain) is my hard drive and it only makes sense to put things in there that are useful. Really useful. Ordinary people fill their heads with all kinds of rubbish. And that makes it hard to get at the stuff that matters. Do you see?”
This is basically what our brain does to survive – it stores information it thinks is useful.
Once the brain stores information, there’s another thing that can be done for future use – retrieve the information through our memory.
Many of us probably know the handwriting technique – that when you write something down, you tend to remember it more. This definitely did wonders for me back in college days. I can truly say that whenever I wrote something down, I had a higher chance of remembering it even without effort. When your child can write already, this is something you can work with.
In this blogpost, I am sharing with you more ways I’ve learned on how memory works and how to improve it.
1. THROUGH CONNECTION
In one episode of Brain Games, they showed photos of the following. I want you to look at them for 10 seconds, then close your eyes or look away. Now, time yourself and see how many you can remember in 15 seconds. This is honesty-based and there’s no prize included, so no need to fool anybody. 😛
Were you able to remember everything? If you were not able to do 5 or more, that’s normal. Your short-term memory makes it hard for you to do it.
However, there’s a very simple trick to improve your memory. When I did it, I was able to recall 8 out of the 10 items without much effort (and in order).
THROUGH A STORY.
When you create a story/ narrative, the random items become connected, and each time a link is made among items, your neurons strengthen, making it possible for your short-term memory to move the items in your long-term memory, where it can later be recalled. Hence, you can easily recall the plot of a novel you’ve read a long time ago, or the lyrics to that annoying catchy song, but cannot even remember the plate numbers you just saw 5 seconds ago.
Look at the items again and make a story about them (or simply, make connections). Once you’re done, see how many you can remember in 15 seconds without looking. Did your memory improve?
[Source: Professor Andre A. Fenton – Neurobiologist and Professor of Neuroscience in New York University]
2. THROUGH THE ENVIRONMENT
In one study, University of Michigan students were given a brief memory test, then divided into two groups.
One group took a walk around an arboretum, and the other half took a walk down a city street. When the participants returned and did the test again, those who had walked among trees did almost 20% percent better than the first time. The ones who had taken in city sights instead did not consistently improve.
Another similar study on depressed individuals also found that walks in nature boosted working memory much more than walks in urban environments.
[Source: Text lifted from HERE where more information on the connection of nature and memory]
According to the video below, just 30 minutes of time spent outside (in nature) can do wonders for your brain!
Spending 30 minutes outdoors will do amazing things for your brain.
Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Apart from the natural environment, a simple and neat room for example, versus a cluttered room can also affect one’s brain process (and memory as an after-effect). According to the show Brain Games, “As long as information comes at us at an orderly fashion, we can make sense of the world around us, but when overwhelmed by too much information, your brain can freeze by default and easily lose track of the world around you.” As in everything else, less is really more. How can you even store something in your memory if your brain can’t even process the information and just stay frozen because there’s just too much? Too much information syndrome is apparently real.
3. THROUGH TACTILE SENSATION
A new study by researchers at the University of Iowa found people don’t remember what they hear as well as things they see and touch.
“We tend to think that the parts of our brain wired for memory are integrated. But our findings indicate our brain may use separate pathways to process information,” says Amy Poremba, associate professor in the UI Department of Psychology and corresponding author on the paper. “Even more, our study suggests the brain may process auditory information differently than visual and tactile information, and alternative strategies — such as increased mental repetition — may be needed when trying to improve memory.”
[Source: Text lifted from HERE]
Maria Montessori has always talked about this – the connection between the hands and the brain – that information is better retained and registered when they are touched. This is also probably why school systems that allow you to explore through all your senses rather than sticking to the listening to your teacher approach works better for many people.
So, what do these memory tricks tell me? To do and keep doing what nature has always supplied us with – a storytelling culture, exposure to nature, and exposure to real life. Nothing can beat getting to hold real oranges for example, and see how those tiny little dots feel on your hands, or to feel the texture of sand as the waves come crashing on it.
Our very busy and complex society has made a lot of things seem progressive (and complicated), but really, all we need are the simplest things to get by.
Hope this post was helpful. If you have more tips and learnings on how memory works and how to improve it, do send me an email at MamaTheExplorer@gmail.com so maybe we can add them here!