Mnemonic Techniques and Specific Memory Tricks to improve
Mnemonic techniques are more specific memory aids. Many are based on the
general memory strategies that were presented earlier. Although it can be
easiest to remember those things that you understand well, sometimes you must
rely on rote memory. The following techniques can be used to facilitate such
1. ACRONYMS. You form acronyms by using each first letter from a group
of words to form a new word. This is particularly useful when remembering words
in a specified order. Acronyms are very common in ordinary language and in many
fields. Some examples of common acronyms include NBA (National Basketball
Associations), SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), BTUs
(British Thermal Units), and LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission
of Radiation). What other common acronyms can you think of? The memory
techniques in this section, for example, can be rearranged to form the acronym
"SCRAM" (Sentences/acrostics, Chunking, Rhymes & songs, Acronyms,
and Method of loci).
Let us suppose that you have to memorize the names of four kinds of fossils
for your geology class: 1) actual remains, 2) Petrified, 3) Imprint, and 4)
Molds or casts. Take the first letter of each item you are trying to remember:
APIM. Then, arrange the letters so that the acronym resembles a word you are
familiar with: PAIM or IMAP.
Although acronyms can be very useful memory aids, they do have some
disadvantages. First, they are useful for rote memory, but do not aid
comprehension. Be sure to differentiate between comprehension and memory,
keeping in mind that understanding is often the best way to remember. Some
people assume that if they can remember something, that they must
"know" it; but memorization does not necessarily imply understanding.
A second problem with acronyms is that they can be difficult to form; not all
lists of words will lend themselves equally well to this technique. Finally,
acronyms, like everything else, can be forgotten if not committed to memory.
2. SENTENCES/ACROSTICS. Like acronyms, you use the first letter of
each word you are trying to remember. Instead of making a new word, though, you
use the letters to make a sentence. Here are some examples:
- My Dear Aunt Sally (mathematical order of operations: Multiply and Divide
before you Add and Subtract)
- Kings Phil Came Over for the Genes Special (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order,
Can you think of other examples? Like acronyms, acrostics can be very simple
to remember and are particularly helpful when you need to remember a list in a
specific order. One advantage over acronyms is that they are less limiting. If
your words don't form easy-to-remember acronyms, using acrostics may be
preferable. On the other hand, they can take more thought to create and require
remembering a whole new sentence rather than just one word (as is the case with
acronyms). Otherwise, they present the same problem as acronyms in that they aid
memorization but not comprehension.
|EXERCISE: PRACTICE USING ACROSTICS
1. Try making up a sentence (acrostic) to remember the five mnemonic
techniques discussed in this section.
2. Now come up with acrostics for several of the main sections of a
chapter from one or your textbooks.
3. RHYMES & SONGS. Rhythm, repetition, melody, and rhyme can all
aid memory. Are you familiar with Homer's Odyssey? If you are familiar with the
book, then you know that it is quite long. That is why it is so remarkable to
realize that this, along with many ancient Greek stories, was told by
storytellers who would rely solely on their memories. The use of rhyme, rhythm,
and repetition helped the storytellers remember them.
You can use the same techniques to better remember information from courses.
For example, even the simple addition of familiar rhythm and melody can help. Do
you remember learning the alphabet? Many children learn the letters of the
alphabet to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." In fact, a
student demonstrated how she memorized the quadratic formula (notorious among
algebra students for being long and difficult to remember) by singing it to a
Using these techniques can be fun, particularly for people who like to
create. Rhymes and songs draw on your auditory memory and may be particularly
useful for those who can learn tunes, songs, or poems easily. Like the other
techniques in this section, however, they emphasize rote memory, not
understanding. Also, when devising rhymes and songs, don't spend too much time
creating them. Use these techniques judiciously and don't let them interfere
with your studying.
4. METHOD OF LOCI. This technique was used by ancient orators to
remember speeches, and it combines the use of organization, visual memory, and
association. Before using the technique, you must identify a common path that
you walk. This can be the walk from your dorm to class, a walk around your
house, whatever is familiar. What is essential is that you have a vivid visual
memory of the path and objects along it. Once you have determined your path,
imagine yourself walking along it, and identify specific landmarks that you will
pass. For example, the first landmark on your walk to campus could be your dorm
room, next may be the front of the residence hall, next a familiar statue you
pass, etc. The number of landmarks you choose will depend on the number of
things you want to remember.
Once you have determined your path and visualized the landmarks, you are
ready to use the path to remember your material. This is done by mentally
associating each piece of information that you need to remember with one of
these landmarks. For example, if you are trying to remember a list of mnemonics,
you might remember the first--acronyms--by picturing SCUBA gear in your dorm
room (SCUBA is an acronym).
You do not have to limit this to a path. You can use the same type of
technique with just about any visual image that you can divide into specific
sections. The most important thing is that you use something with which you are
|EXERCISE: METHOD OF LOCI
1. If someone reads a list of unrelated words to you, just once, how
many do you think you could remember? Give it a try. Have someone read a
list of 10 words to you at a slow but steady pace (about 1 word per
second). Rather than using any of the memory techniques presented here,
simply try to concentrate on the words and remember them. How many words
did you remember?
2. Now take a few minutes to identify a path or object that you can
use in the method of loci. Familiarize yourself with each of sections of
your path or object. Mentally go through each of the loci (locations)
and visualize them as best you can. Remember, it is important to be able
to visualize and recall each location readily. Once you have done this,
have your friend read you a different list of words. This time, try to
create visual images of the words associated with one of the locations.
This may not come easy at first, but with practice you should be able to
create these visual images more readily. If you find that you are having
difficulty coming up with the images quickly, practice on some more
lists until you have improved. Chances are, when you become familiar
with using this technique, you will be able to remember many more words
(maybe all 10 items).
3. Practice the technique to sharpen your skills.
5. CHUNKING. This is a technique generally used when remembering
numbers, although the idea can be used for remembering other things as well. It
is based on the idea that short-term memory is limited in the number of things
that can be contained. A common rule is that a person can remember 7 (plus or
minus 2) "items" in short-term memory. In other words, people can
remember between 5 and 9 things at one time. You may notice that local telephone
numbers have 7 digits. This is convenient because it is the average amount of
numbers that a person can keep in his or her mind at one time.
When you use "chunking" to remember, you decrease the number of
items you are holding in memory by increasing the size of each item. In
remembering the number string 64831996, you could try to remember each number
individually, or you could try thinking about the string as 64 83 19 96
(creating "chunks" of numbers). This breaks the group into a smaller
number of "chunks." Instead of remembering 8 individual numbers, you
are remembering four larger numbers. This is particularly helpful when you form
"chunks" that are meaningful or familiar to you (in this case, the
last four numbers in the series are "1996," which can easily be
remembered as one chunk of information).
6. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT (or closer to it anyway): Okay, it may not
be a mnemonic, but repeating is still a great memory aid. Remember the
children's game "I'm going on a picnic and I'm bringing...." As each
new object is added, the old objects are repeated. People can often remember a
large number of objects this way. When remembering a list of things, you might
try a similar concept. Once you are able to remember 5 items on your list
without looking, add a 6th, repeat the whole list from the start, add a 7th, and
so on. It can be quite intimidating to see long lists, passages, or equations
that you are expected to commit to memory. Break up the information into small
bits that you can learn, one step at a time, and you may be surprised at how
easy it can be. You might even utilize grouping techniques, like those discussed
earlier, to form meaningful groups that you can learn one at a time.
This page was featured in the scene between the master
infinite player and the apprentice in
Infinite Play The Movie
Human Memory The Science
Theories and Processes underlying
memory, memorization improvement are a few basic concepts. Although we will not
go into extensive detail about theories of memory, we will present some of the
basic ideas to help you understand why certain techniques work.
Brain mind memory encoding, storage, retention,
Understand your brains natural
memory rhythms and take advantage of them to improve your memory, memorization
skills and enhance your learning capabilities.
Memory memorization and related
Improving memory - memory enhancing techniques
methods for improved memorization
An Empirical Investigation Into the Effect of
Beta Frequency Binaural Beat Audio Signals on Four Measures of Human Memory
Memory and related learning
Mnemonic Techniques and Specific Memory
Tricks to Improve memory and memorization techniques Tricks
to improve memory and memorization
Generic Long Term Memory memorization
Hermann Ebbinghaus- Memory learning
memorization maximizing recall retention