A good memory is an indisputable advantage for students and a skill that will certainly come in handy in life - no matter what your academic disciplines were.
Today we decided to open a series of materials on how to pump memory - let's start with a short educational program: what kind of memory is and what methods of memorization work for sure.
Photos jesse orrico - Unsplash
Memory 101: from a split second to infinity
The easiest way to describe memory is the ability to accumulate, save and reproduce knowledge and skills for some time. "Some time" can take seconds, and can last a lifetime. Depending on this (as well as on which parts of the brain are active at one time or another), memory is usually divided into sensory, short-term and long-term.
is a memory that activates in just a split second, it is beyond our conscious control and is essentially an automatic response to changes in the environment: we see/hear/sense the object, recognize it and “complete” the environment around us, taking into account the new information. In essence, this is a system that allows us to register a picture that our senses perceive. True, very briefly - the information in the sensory memory is stored literally half a second or less.
memory “works” up to several tens of seconds (20-40 seconds). We are able to reproduce the information obtained in this time interval, without the need to consult with the original source. True, not all: the amount of information that short-term memory can hold is limited - for a long time it was thought that it contained “seven plus or minus two objects.”
The reason for this is the article by the Harvard cognitive psychologist George Miller (George Armitage Miller) “The Magic Number 7 ± 2”, which was published in the journal Psychological Review in 1956. In it, he described the results of experiments during his work at Bell Laboratories: according to his observations, a person could store in short-term memory from five to nine objects - be it a sequence of letters, numbers, words or images.
Subjects memorized more complex sequences, grouping the elements so that the number of groups also ranged from 5 to 9. True, modern research gives more modest results - 4 ± 1 is considered a “magic number”. Such estimates results
, in particular, psychology professor Nelson Cowan in his 2001 article. < br/>
Photo Fredy Jacob - Unsplash
memory is arranged differently - the duration of information storage in it can be unlimited, the volume is much higher than short-term memory. Moreover, if in the work of short-term memory temporary neural connections are occupied in the area of the frontal and parietal cortex, then long-term memory exists due to stable neural connections distributed across all parts of the brain.
All these types of memory do not exist separately from each other - one of the most famous models of the relationship between them was proposed by psychologists Richard Atkinson and Richard Shiffrin in 1968. According to their assumption, first the information is processed by the sensory memory. Sensory memory “buffers” provide short-term memory information.Further, if the information is repeated several times, then it transfers from the short-term memory "to the long-term storage".
Recalling (targeted or spontaneous) in such a model is the reverse transition of information from long-term to short-term memory.
Another model after 4 years was offered by cognitive psychologists Fergus Craik and Robert Lockhart (Fergus I. M. Craik, Robert S. Lockhart). It is based on the idea that the duration of information storage and whether it will remain only in sensory memory or become long-term depends on the “depth” of processing. The more complex the processing method and the more time spent on it, the higher the likelihood that the information will be remembered for a long time.
Explicit, implicit, working - all this is also about memory
Studies of the relationship between types of memory led to the emergence of more complex classifications and models. So, for example, long-term memory was divided into explicit (it is also called conscious) and implicit (unconscious or hidden).
is what we usually mean when we talk about memorization. It, in turn, is divided into episodic (memories of the life of the person himself) and semantic (memory of facts, concepts and phenomena) - this separation was first proposed in 1972 by Canadian psychologist of Estonian origin Endel Tulving.
Photo studio tdes - Flickr CC BY
memory is usually divided
into priming and procedural memory. A priming or fixation of an installation occurs when a certain stimulus affects the way we perceive the stimulus that follows it. For example, because of the priming
, the phenomenon of misheard lyrics (when in songs something is heard wrong
) - after learning a new, ridiculous
version of the line from the song, we are also starting to hear it. And vice versa - the previously illegible entry becomes clear if you see the decoding of the text.
As for procedural memory, its vivid example is motor memory. Your body “knows for itself” how to ride a bike, drive a car or play tennis, in the same way a musician plays a familiar piece, without looking at the notes and not thinking about what the next beat should be. These are not the only memory models.
Original options offered as contemporaries of Miller, Atkinson and Shiffrin, and the next generation of researchers. Classifications of types of memory are also much more: for example, autobiographical memory is allocated to a separate class (something between an episodic and semantic), and besides short-term memory they sometimes talk about working memory (although some scientists, for example, the same Cowan, consider
that working memory is rather a small section of long-term memory that a person operates on at the moment).
Trite, but reliable: basic memory training tricks
The benefits of good memory, of course, is obvious. Not only for students on the eve of the exam - according to a recent Chinese study, memory training besides its main task also helps
regulate emotions. For better retention of objects in short-term memory, the most commonly used is grouping method
(English chunking) - when objects in a certain sequence are grouped together according to their meaning. This is the very method that underlies the "magic numbers" (taking into account modern experiments, it is desirable that the number of final objects does not exceed 4-5). So, for example, the phone number 9899802801 is much easier to remember if you break it into blocks 98-99-802-801.
On the other hand, short-term memory and should not be extremely sharp, sending literally all the information received "to the archive." These memories are short-lived precisely because most of the phenomena surrounding us do not carry anything fundamentally important: the menu in the restaurant, the shopping list and what you were wearing today are clearly not the data that is really important to keep in memory for years.
As for long-term memory, the basic principles and methods of training it are at the same time the most complex and laborious. And pretty obvious.
Photo Tim Gouw - Unsplash
. The advice is banal, nevertheless, reliable: it is repeated attempts to recall something that make it possible to “place” an object in a long-term storage with high probability. There are a couple of nuances. First, it is important to choose the right time period, after which you will try to remember the information (not too long, not too short - it depends on how well your memory is already developed).
Suppose you have disassembled a ticket for the exam and tried to memorize it. Try to repeat the ticket in a few minutes, in half an hour, in an hour, two, the next day. This will require more time for one ticket, but a relatively frequent repetition after not too long periods of time will help to fix the material better.
Secondly, it is important to try to remember the material entirely, without looking at the answers at the first difficulty - even if it seems to you that you do not remember anything at all. The more you manage to “get” out of your memory when you first try, the better the next one will work.
Simulation in conditions close to real
. At first glance, this only helps to cope with possible stress (on the exam or at the moment when knowledge should be useful to you in theory). However, this approach allows us not only to cope with nerves, but also to better remember something - this, incidentally, concerns not only semantic memory, but also motor memory.
For example, according to a research , the ball redemption skill was better developed by those baseball players who had to take different feeds in an unpredictable order (like in a real game), unlike those who consistently trained to work with a specific feed type.
Retelling/recording in your own words
. This approach provides a greater depth of information processing (if you focus on the model of Craik and Lockhart). In essence, it forces us to process information not only semantically (you evaluate the dependencies between phenomena and their interrelationships), but also “with attribution to yourself” (how would you call this phenomenon? How can you explain it without retelling word for word content? article or ticket?). Both from the standpoint of this hypothesis are levels of deep information processing, which provide more effective recall.
All of these are rather laborious techniques, albeit effective ones. In the next material from the series, we will look at what other approaches work on the development of memory, and whether there are lifehacks among them that help save time and spend a little less energy on memorizing.
Other materials from our blog on Habré:
Our photo excursions in Habré: