Improving Your Memory

How can we have a better memory?

This topic certainly interests me. Why? Just last week, I forgot something and had to drive back. And there are many times I walk upstairs to my home office and forgot why I’m there. As we age, our memory usually becomes more challenging.

While not a cure all, tips from Adam Grant, writing for the NY Times, may be helpful:

“’Everybody has a great memory for something, Joshua Foer explained on my WorkLife podcast. “Incredible memory capacities are latent inside of all of us — if we use the right techniques to awaken them. So ditch the bad study habits you learned in school, and start with these three steps.”

“First: Say goodbye to the all-nighters of cramming. In a series of experiments, students listened to stories and then took a test of how much information they remembered an hour later. Recall spiked by 10 to 30 percent if they had been randomly assigned to sit and do nothing in a dark, quiet room for a few minutes right after hearing the story. Your mind needs rest and space to consolidate and store information. That’s especially true for people who have memory difficulties. When the same experiment was done with patients who had suffered strokes and other neurological injuries, resting improved their recall to 79 percent from 7 percent.”

“Second: Don’t bother with rereading or highlighting. Research reveals that they don’t help much; they’re too passive. Instead, try something active: quiz yourself. Evidence shows that practice tests lead to better retention than any other technique. When you retrieve knowledge from your mind over and over again, you know where to find it the next time, and you quickly discover where the gaps in your memory are.”

“Third: Tell someone. In a recent experiment, people learned about sound waves and the Doppler effect. (You know, the phenomenon that causes the siren on a police car to be high-pitched as it approaches you and drop as it passes you). At the end of studying, the participants were randomly assigned to deliver a lesson on the material with or without notes. A week later, they came back and had to take a surprise test on their recall. The ones who had taught the lesson without notes did better.”

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Improving Your Memory
 

Author: Living Well with Cancer

I am a long-time business school professor, who is a Pancreatic Cancer survivor. I had Whipple surgery on February 12, 2015. In this blog, I want to help others live well with cancer. A positive attitude, caring family, strong medical team, and supportive colleagues are key. And support from other cancer survivors can be life affirming.

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