What No One Ever Taught You About Memory
As many students head back to school this week, here are some solid tips on studying from the Brisbane Times of Australia:
“The key is to understand a few core ideas about how to retain information, says a behavioural neuroscientist from the University of Western Sydney, Dr Gabrielle Weidemann. A basic principle is that by ‘elaborating’ memories, students can remember more information. ‘Start with the things you know and add new bits of information into the bits you already know about,’ she says. ‘That will help you in elaborating the memory and making connections between the bits of information.’
Active study methods such as rewriting information in your own words, quizzing yourself or trying to teach somebody else are also helpful, as is ”spaced repetition’; that is, leaving intervals between study sessions.Where and how you study is important, too: pay close attention to the task at hand and eliminate distractions such as television or social media.
The best methods not only encourage students to input information, but also to recall it, Weidemann says. ‘The act of retrieving information helps to encode that memory better,” she says.
Then there’s lifestyle. Getting plenty of sleep, healthy eating and exercising can improve long-term memory, in some cases by fostering the birth of new neurons in the brain and reducing stress.
And while you’re best off trying to understand the material if you need to demonstrate analytical or problem-solving skills, Weidemann believes memory ‘tricks,’ such as mnemonics, rhymes and acrostics, have their place where students need to remember a list of facts or sets of information.” Read more here.
Very basic stuff about how memory works, but most of us weren’t taught it—and a lot of what students do to study, like reading over notes, is exactly the wrong approach.