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Memory Fitness
How to Get It, How to Keep It

by Cynthia R. Green, PhD

Make sure that you use memory tools that suit your lifestyle and memory needs, so that you’ll be more likely to use them. Then make sure that you use them every day. There is no scientific evidence that using memory tools hurts your recall ability in any way. In fact, people who use such tools tend to be more organized and remember better.

There are some things, though, that must be memorized, such as certain names at an interview or a business meeting, PIN numbers, and passwords. How can you make it easier to remember such information? There are several simple methods you can get into the habit of using that can help to maximize your memory power. Here are some examples:

Use repetition. Repeat information to yourself as you are learning it. Repetition forces you to focus on the material and gives you an additional chance to learn it. For example, if you are assigned locker 2415 at the gym, simply repeat the number a few times to yourself to boost your recall for it.

Make a connection. This technique is helpful for remembering people’s names. When you are introduced to someone, mentally connect or hook their name with someone you already know. When meeting “Jennifer,” think of your friend Jennifer or of a famous Jennifer, such as Jennifer Lopez. Connecting the name in this way gives it a context and can make it more meaningful and easier to remember.

Take a mental snapshot. Many people are unaware of the power of visual imagery. Next time you need to memorize something, try forming a mental snapshot or picture of the word or item (or something related to or sounding like it). For example, if you need to remember the password “apple,” visualize an apple clearly in your mind’s eye. If you need to remember the name “Tiana,” visualize a tiara or the letters of the word “Tiana” in neon lights.

Make up a story. Make up stories that use the information you need to remember. A short, silly, and exaggerated story often works best. For example, if you wanted to remember the license number “PA290F,” you might think, “In Pennsylvania, it’s 290 degrees Fahrenheit.” Storytelling is a technique many people like, because it’s natural for people to hear and tell information as a narrative. (Click here for a chance to try out these tools and techniques.)

What do you need to do now? Make these healthy memory habits part of your daily routine. Achieving better memory fitness is not hard, and you might be amazed at the improvement in your memory by making even a few of these changes.

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Name Game



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