Friday, 26 April 2013


Curious Thing, Memory!

     Have you ever had an uncontrollable urge to start cleaning up your room or your cupboard when you have an especially mind-numbing homework assignment to complete? You are not alone! Many a mother finds to her amusement (and relief) that messy cupboards right themselves with perfection equalling magical proportions at a periodic interval that corresponds to the exam times! One good thing that comes out of this exercise is that when one wants a pair of socks from the cupboard, one could find just that and not a smelly old handkerchief hidden beneath all sorts of debris! 

     The memory system that we all possess can be understood to function in just this way. When we store material we learn in class in an orderly fashion, following some kind of structure or rule, we find it easy to recollect any bit of information. When we store a whole bunch of information in no particular order than the ones in which we are taught one period after the other, recalling what we need becomes difficult and we are left standing in class, scratching our heads as the teacher looks smugly on.

     Although these memory techniques may not make head scratching in class go away completely, they will help us remember things more effectively. Let’s look at a few tricks now:

  1. Acronyms- This is a technique that is very helpful in learning bits of information that is seemingly large. For example, if you wanted to memorise Albus Dumbledore’s full name, which is Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, you could form an acronym using the first letters of his name such as AP (for Andhra Pradesh) and WB (Warner Brothers) and you are set to rock any Harry Potter trivia quiz!

  1. Mnemonics/Verbal Associations- This technique is used when you have a large amount of information that is seemingly meaningless or unrelated. For example, if you were told to remember the following words: Chair, Laptop, Jump, Poke, inducing meaning into this random series makes memory effective. An association such as this may work: She was sitting on a CHAIR as her LAPTOP beeped, making her JUMP as if it had given her a POKE!

  1. The VAKT Way- Many people learn information in many different ways. Some learn well from Visual aids such as diagrams and flow-charts; some benefit from Auditory techniques such as audio books or a friend giving an answer in points before entering the exam hall; Kinesthetic learners are those who learn things by doing and experimenting; and Tactile learners are those who learn about things through touch and manipulation. Think about which of these methods help you best!

  1. Clustering- This technique works well when you have to remember a long string of numbers, like a phone number or an abnormally lengthy library number. For example, some people cluster phone numbers into the first 4 numbers, followed by the next three numbers and then the last three numbers lending it a certain rhythm or tune!

  1. Practice- There is no escape from this! Repeated practice of verbal and numerical information, dance and music strengthens neural connections in your brain making the memory stay longer. So take out that maths book and get cracking, I say!