Memory Techniques

I really enjoy reading The New York Times when I get the chance, which isn’t all that often! But when I do read it, it’s interesting because Times articles in the health section often quote the latest studies on memory, which I find really interesting. If you’re looking for some new memory techniques – or at least for new information on old techniques – here’s what some relatively recent New Yorker articles have to say about the latest research on memory:

Memory and fitness

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – your memory abilities are profoundly affected by your general fitness level, and being more fit is one of the best overall memory techniques there is! More and more studies are backing this up, and you don’t have to be a marathon runner to have a great memory.

One study from The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that healthy men and women who weren’t very active benefited memory-wise from aerobic exercise as simple as walking for forty minutes three times a week. The study looked particularly at the hippocampus, one area of the brain that’s vital for memory formation. In the study, men and women were either assigned an aerobic workout regimen or a regimen including yoga and resistance exercises. Those in the aerobic group experienced a 2% increase in the volume of the hippocampus! The other group saw a hippocampus volume decline of 1.4%, which is much more normal for their age group.

What’s this mean for you? Well, it doesn’t mean yoga and weightlifting aren’t valuable at all, since they can help increase the mind-body connection and teach valuable memory techniques like breathing techniques, but it does mean that if you have to choose, light aerobics is the way to go. These exercises are some of the best memory techniques that can naturally increase the actual brain parts that help your memory function.

Font style matters

You might think that it’s easier to remember information when it’s written in a larger font size, but one article totally disagrees. The size of the font doesn’t have anything to do with memory ability, but one of the best new memory techniques to be unveiled by science is the idea of putting information in unfamiliar or difficult-to-read fonts. The reason, researchers think, that this could be one of the hottest new memory techniques on the block is that when a font is unfamiliar, the brain automatically has to think more about the information you’re reading. This means that you’re more likely to remember it longer later on.

Knowing what you know isn’t always easy

One of the hardest memory techniques to master, especially when it comes to studying, is knowing what you know – or metacognition. Many people assume they know information when they really don’t. One of the best ways to beat metacognition problems is to test yourself as you’re studying. Giving yourself closed-book, closed-note tests helps you see the information you really do know and the information that isn’t as set in your brain yet. Just being able to understand what you know and what you still need to learn is a big step on the path to figuring out what and how you need to remember.

These memory techniques aren’t as obvious as creating acronyms, but I think they’re really interesting. Plus, they’re backed up by the latest research and can help you learn to remember things more quickly and efficiently for sure. Get aerobic exercise when you’re trying to remember more. Type up your notes in an unfamiliar, slightly difficult to read font, and test yourself as you’re learning so you really do know what you know.