Who has never had problems memorizing new words or numbers? I remember how I struggled when I had to learn 60 or more new German words in a few days when I was in high school. To memorize them, I sat with my course book trying to find some Italian words that had a sort of link with the German ones. For example, I still remember that I associated the word Artz – doctor – with the Italian word arto – limb. Doctors fix limbs too, isn’t it?
Growing up I discovered that memory can be trained and improved. In fact, if well stimulated, our brain is able to create new neural pathways.
Here are some suggestions to train your memory and improve your cognitive functions.
CHANGE YOUR LIFE STYLE
DO PHYSICAL EXERCISE
Physical exercise stimulates the production of certain proteins that improve cognitive functions and expand brain’s memory centers. In addition to this, physical exercise allows also to increase oxygen to the brain, improving your concentration ability.
Sleeping well allows you to recharge your batteries. Moreover, sleeping is also essential for memory consolidation. That’s why when you go to sleep after a study session, you generally wake up with all the concepts perfectly stuck in your mind.
EAT HEALTHY FOOD
Omega-3s, fruit and vegetables, green tea and dark chocolate are considered beneficial for your brain. Indeed, these have a high concentration of antioxidants that protect your brain cells from damage.
By contrast, eating a lot of saturated fats increases the risk of impairing memory and brain cells.
EXERCISE YOUR BRAIN
To exercise your brain you should choose activities that are new, challenging and fun.
In fact, you should do something you’re unfamiliar with and takes some mental effort in order to let your brain creating new neural pathways. In addition, since you generally learn what you really want to learn, you should do an activity you enjoy, so as you’ll have a strong motivation.
HELP YOUR BRAIN MEMORIZING NEW THINGS
Associate a new word with something you’re familiar with: an image, another word, a feeling, etc.
This is usually used with numbers. This techniques is based on the fact that short-term human memory is limited. Indeed, people generally memorize more easily numbers up to 9 digits. So, if you have a number of 12 digits, for example 740275941630, you can chunk it into smaller digits: 740–275–941–630, tricking your brain.
BY MAKING AN ACRONYM
An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words. For example memorizing the word FANBOYS may help you to remember the coordinating conjunctions – For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So.
BY USING THE METHOD OF LOCI
This is usually used to memorize a set of new words. You should imagine a path, a path you know very well. The path you do to go to work, the one you do when you’re in a supermarket, and so on. Now, place the objects you have to memorize on that path. Finally, visualize and recall the path – and the objects – several times.
BY USING RHYMES
Rhymes are used with children to improve memory and do you want to know something? They work! So, you can use rhymes, alliteration and even familiar tunes to memorize new words.
What about you? Do you use special techniques to train your memory or to memorize new words? Feel free to post your comments and suggestions below.