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Total Recall: Three-Step Technique Helps Boost Your Memory

Total Recall: Three-Step Technique Helps Boost Your Memory
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By    |   Friday, 28 April 2017 03:48 PM

Wouldn’t it be great if you never forgot a name? Or your bank account number? Or what’s on your grocery list? Or where you left your car keys?

The truth is: You can. Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Longevity Center, has developed a three-step technique that can help boost your memory and give you almost total recall.

“Memory involves two major components — getting information into your brain and being able to retrieve it later,” says Small, author of The Mind Health Report newsletter.

For most people, developing an iron-clad short-term memory can be a matter of mastering mnemonic devices, which are techniques that give added meaning to otherwise abstract names, words, and numbers.

“To remember a name, identify an attribute of that person to help you,” says Small. “If you meet Lisa and she’s got a pretty smile, you may want to think of the Mona Lisa painting.”

In his book “The Memory Bible,” Small advocates using three basic skills to aid memory, represented by the phrase “Look, snap and connect.”

“You ‘look’ to focus your attention, ‘snap’ to create a mental image, and ‘connect’ to link mental snapshots so they have meaning,” he explains. “You’ve got to hang the new information on an existing mental template.”

Creating such associations builds neural networks in the brain that make it easier to retrieve memories. One effective mnemonic device is called the Memory Palace or Method of Loci. It consists of visualizing a familiar place or room and associating things you want to memorize with objects in that setting.

To memorize a shopping list, for instance, try associating it with things in your bedroom. The more offbeat the association, the stronger the connection will be.

If milk is on the list, you can visualize a person in a framed photo on the dresser with a milk moustache. For butter, imagine your clothes hamper with a churning stick. Then, when you’re at the supermarket, you can visualize your bedroom, and when you see the objects of your associations, you will remember the items on the list.

“Memory Palace is like using a space you know well to remember information that you don’t,” Alex Mullen, two-time world memory champion, told CNN. “It works because humans naturally have really good spatial and visual memories.”

Mnemonic devices can also help you remember things. They include the following techniques:

Using acronyms. Use words and letters to remember lists, such as HOMES to memorize the names of the Great Lakes — Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Or you can create a sentence where the first letter of each word is the acronym, such as “Henry’s Old Mother Exhales Slowly.”

Rhyming. You can also use rhymes, such as “Billy is silly” and “Mary likes dairy” to remember the new neighbors’ names. One you may have learned in grade school is, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” to remember the year the explorer first landed in America.

Chunking. People with strong memories also often use a technique known as chunking, which is breaking up long streams of numbers or letters into more manageable “chunks.” A classic example we use every day is a 10-digit phone number. It’s easier to remember 5552154856 if you break it up to 555-215-4856.

Focus. Sometimes, forgetting things is just a lack of focus. If you’re always misplacing your keys, get into the habit of saying aloud, “I’m leaving my keys on the dresser” or “desk” or “kitchen counter,” and you’ll easily remember where you left them.

“Learning these memory methods is like learning a new language,” says Small, co-author of the 2016 book “Two Weeks to a Younger Brain.” “At first it’s awkward and takes a lot of mental effort, but after a while you get good at it.”

Small says you can also help optimize your memory functions through your lifestyle.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
  • Deal with stress through relaxation exercises such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi.
  • Get plenty of sleep and exercise.
  • Stay mentally active by reading, doing puzzles, and learning new things.

“We know that learning memory techniques can compensate for age-related memory decline and help people function better,” Small tells Newsmax Health.

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Can't remember the name of the new guy at work, or where you left your car keys? Here are a few simple techniques that can strengthen your recall, courtesy of memory expert Dr. Gary Small.
memory, boosting, secrets
Friday, 28 April 2017 03:48 PM
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