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How To Improve Your Short Term Memory
Copyright © Mark Beselt
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Short term memory
allows you to retain a small amount of
information for a short amount of time. Think of
it as a temporary workspace where information is consciously registered
before being processed into long term memory.
A lot of short term data is thrown straight out
and is never committed to long term memory. But when we immediately
throw out data we want to remember, it becomes a problem.
So how can we retain the important stuff so that
it sticks when we really want to remember something? In this article,
we'll look at the causes of short term memory loss and how you can
actively improve it through daily brain training, mnemonic devices, an ultimate memory improvement software
and memory supplements.
What Causes Short Term Memory Loss?
There are many things that disrupt your conscious
processing of new memories. For example, if you can't absorb new
information properly, then you have no hope of remembering it later.
It's quite normal to forget things committed to
recent memory, like what you had for breakfast or where you put your
keys. This is a sign of aging, and its the biggest cause of short term
Your brain stops growing and starts shrinking in
your 20s, and so you have fewer brain cells as you get older. While it
doesn't usually affect your active memory (minutes), it does affect
your recent memory (hours).
However, other types of short term memory loss can
be a cause of concern. It is associated with a whole host of diseases
and disorders, including:
- Alcohol abuse
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Atlantic mussel food poisoning
- Cerebral tumor
- Cerebrovascular Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Chronic Stress
- Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease
- Drug abuse
- Head injury
- Huntington's Disease
- Lead poisoning
- Marijuana abuse
- Mental illness
- Morgellon's Disease
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Sleep deprivation
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
If you feel your short term memory loss is not
directly related to aging, you should check out the section on The Wider Causes of Memory Loss.
However, depending on the underlying cause of your
short term memory loss, there are some practical techniques you can use
to help restore it...
How To Improve Your Short Term Memory
Most people compensate for short term memory loss
by keeping notes and writing lists of important data. This may provide
a quick solution but it doesn't challenge your brain to remember more -
if anything, you're using your active memory even less. Automatically
storing all your numbers in a cell phone or PDA doesn't exactly help
Instead, it's far better to:
- Perform Brain Training
- Learn Memory Techniques
- Take a Memory Supplement
All of these will optimize your brain to perform better naturally -
without any artificial aids which will ultimately make it lazy.
1. Brain Training
It's important to keep your mind sharp as you age.
Studies have found that seniors who do crosswords, puzzles, read, write
and play card games delayed the onset of dementia. You only need do
this kind of mental exercise twice a day in order to help prevent your
mental powers from stagnating. The other good news is, brain training
For memory improvement games, I recommend Lumosity online brain training.
It's free to begin with so you can get a taste of what's available,
offering a wide range of simple and scientifically-proven memory games
designed for all ages. By practicing daily, you can track your
performance and monitor your level of improvement. It's a great
resources for anyone serious about sharpening their working memory
2. Memory Improvement Techniques
Take a look at some of these memory improvement
techniques, designed to help you store more dry data and flex that
memory muscle of yours...
EXERCISE A - CHUNKING
Studies show that most people can comfortably
store 7 random digits. In order to make this a lot easier we naturally
use a technique called chunking - separating the
data into smaller blocks, such as hyphenating phone numbers.
people stretch this technique to remember their 16-digit credit card
number, broken down into chunks of 4 digits. Can you do this? Don't
worry if not, most people have simply never tried. After all, we do
have this mentality of writing things down instead of making the effort
required to remember them.
So next time you need to remember a phone number,
try the good old method of chunking and committing it to memory first.
Repetition and writing it down will help. But the aim of this exercise
is to recall the number from memory later on in the day - and not have
to refer to a cell phone or scrap of paper.
EXERCISE B - MNEMONIC DEVICES
A mnemonic device is a verbal or visual memory
improvement technique that makes it easier to remember a host of
seemingly unrelated data. It works by evoking vivid and unusual mental
imagery and emotions, thereby giving dry data meaning.
This mnemonic device will remind you to
call your angry gorilla-like boss today.
Simple mnemonics can be as basic as a rhyme or
acronym to create a reference point for the data you're trying to
learn. For instance, My Very Easy Method Just Sums Up Nine
Planets tells us the order of the planets in orbit is
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.
Don't worry Pluto, you are still a planet to me!
We have all used simple mnemonics like this before
- but there are many more clever mnemonic devices to enhance your
memory. My favorite are the ones involving colorful visualizations
(like a ton of garbage falling down on my head when the clock chimes
six) reminding me to take the garbage out.
Whether you are battling aging memory loss or
super-charging a healthy student memory, mnemonic devices are an excellent
habit to form. You will soon be able to quickly memorize long lists of
items, tasks, or important facts and recall them from your short term
memory with ease. These can also be translated to long term memories if you wish.
These powerful techniques can be applied to
everyday life and not only help you recall data more easily, it is also
another great form of brain training.
3. Memory Vitamins
Sometimes memory loss can be attributed to a
nutritional deficiency in the diet. Experts recommend eating more
nutrient-rich foods or specific vitamin supplements to restore balance.
This provides the brain with all the nutrients it needs to function
properly, including the way it forges and retrieves memories.
If you are looking to improve your short term
memory, you may find it helps to take a memory supplement, in addition
to eating a healthy balanced diet. Using the latest memory research, I
have compiled a list of the best memory vitamins. These
include vitamins B, C, E and Omega-3 fatty acids.
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