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How To Improve Your Short Term Memory

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How To Improve Your Short Term MemoryShort 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 memory loss.

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
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Drug abuse
  • Encephalitis
  • Head injury
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lead poisoning
  • Marijuana abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Morgellon's Disease
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Smoking
  • Stroke
  • Syphilis
  • 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 either.

Instead, it's far better to:

  1. Perform Brain Training
  2. Learn Memory Techniques
  3. 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 is fun!

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 skills.


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...



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.

How to Improve Short Term Memory: ChunkingSome 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.



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.

Mnemonic Devices
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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