More often people complain about having a terrible memory, things like birthdays, anniversaries, grocery lists, etc. tend to slip off their minds. One might imagine memory like something set in stone but it is not the case, with the right technique you can train your brain to remember almost anything you want. A four-time USA Memory Champion, Nelson Dellis, who has memorized 10,000 digits of pi, the lists of hundreds of names after only one hearing, and the order of more than nine shuffled cards, says that anyone can improve their memory with a little dedication. Here are five steps that can help in training your brain to remember things.
- Start With Strong Images- Dellis suggests that to memorize anything, start turning it into an image. Let u take seven wonders of the world, for example, for the Great Wall of China you might just want to imagine a wall or for Petra of Jordan, you can just go for an image of your pet. Images that are weird or gross or emotional tend to stay in the brain for a longer time. When looking at the brain, researchers found that the amygdala—a part of the brain that is important for processing emotion—encourages other parts of the brain to store memories. That’s why strong emotions make it more likely that memories will stay.
- Put Those Images in a Location- Next, you have to locate those mental images in a setting that is familiar with you. Using Dellis’ example, he locates the seven wonders of the world on a route through his house, starting with a wall in his entryway, then Christ—representing Christ the Redeemer— lounging around on his sofa. He also mentions that the weirder the location, the better are the chances of staying in the memory. Linking images to a place are called the memory palace, which capitalizes on your existing memory of a real place. It is usually a place you are familiar with, which can be your house or workplace which you know very well. Neuro-imaging research has shown increased activity in the occipito-parietal area of the brain when learning memories using a memory palace. This technique helps the brain to bring in parts that are dedicated to other sense-the parietal lobe is responsible for navigation, and the occipital lobe is related to seeing images.
- Pay Attention- Memorizing seven wonders of the World is not as hard as memorizing 10,000 digits of pi or 100 names in one hearing, and doing that needs more motivation and more attention. According to Dellis, he motivates himself with the mantra “I want to memorize this”, it may be simple but this mantra helps him focus on the task by concentrating his attention on the task in hand and it helps him remember better.
- Break Things Up- For a long sequence of cards or a large number, it is a good technique to break things up into smaller sequences. Dellis says that it is easy to remember words as you can associate words easily with images but numbers or names or cards can be tricky, and for that, he has a technique that whenever we see a name or a number or a card, we already have an image preset for it.
- Finish Up by Reviewing– After getting the images and their location sorted in the memory, all we have to do is make sure that it stays in the brain. Most of the memories don’t even get to the long-term memory part of the brain and that is why it is important to repeat the information, again and again, to turn short-term memory into the long term. There is no shortcut for that, all you have to do is practice and persistence.
Training the brain is not as easy as it sounds or seems, it takes a lot of efforts, repetiton, hard work and training on a daily basis. Train hard, work hard, practice hard, then it can become instinctive, says the memory champion.