Improving Memory & Learning Retention

research and draft article written by Sadia Mumtaz

article written by Wayne Brown

I’ve generally been in awe of individuals with uncommonly good recollection. You know, the sort of individuals who accumulate all-encompassing information with apparently little exertion, while most of us battle to recall the name of the individual we were acquainted with seconds ago.

There is hope for us all, however. Just as we can reinforce other muscles in our bodies, we can also prepare our minds to recall more and master anything quicker. You may wish you had been bought into the world with a photographic memory (but, truth be told, with a couple of striking special cases, for all intents and purposes no grown-ups really have a photographic memory).

Regardless of whether you have to read for a test, learn another language, or avoid humiliating memory slips (such as the name of your Boss’s partner whom you were just introduced too), remaining intellectually sharp and improving your memory is simpler than it sounds. Here are some of the best tips to help support strengthening your memory for both the short and the long haul.

The Science of Memory…

To start with, we should discuss how memory works, so we can comprehend the science behind these methods.

In the event that memory – or how our mind gain and review experiences, is baffling to you, you’re not the only one. Researchers have been attempting to make sense of how human memory functions for at least 2,000 years dating back to Aristotle. Even so, with the rapid advances in technology, we continue to understand more and discover new revelations. In 2016, British researchers won the Nobel prize for neuroscience for their work on memory – with the disclosure of a protein in the cerebrum that has a key influence on memory is arranged and lost. That research continues today.

In any case, we do know that there are fundamentally three phases or steps to memory handling: encoding, stockpiling (capacity), and review. Let’s explore each a little further.


The initial step to creating a memory is called encoding: It’s the point at which your mind receives data through any of your senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, or fee. Today it is believed we receive and process up to 11 million bits of information a second, or 34GB daily. However, it filters and ignores all but a small sampling which it deems the most important to you.

How about we take, for instance, your first excursion to Las Vegas. Your memory of that occasion is framed by the visual array of buildings, signs, and people all around you, then there is the sound-related outside and inside the casinos, on the streets, the clubs and restaurants, and maybe smell of various fragrances siphoned into every club).

One area of particular note is that of semantic encoding. This is defined as a specific type of encoding in which the meaning of something (a word, phrase, picture, event, etc) is encoded as opposed to the sound or vision of it. For instance, sticking with Las Vegas experience, you visit the Bellagio Resort and Casino and enjoy the Wellspring show because that’s where you kissed your partner for the first time.

This is acceptable to know since research proposes we recall things better and hold them longer when we partner significance to them utilizing semantic encoding.

We receive a constant daily deluge of information through our senses


The small snippets of data that we retain are then put away in various territories of your mind. Your neurons (the nerve cells in your cerebrum) pass signs to one another about what you experienced, “talking” with one another and constructing either brief or dependable associations. It’s that neural action and the quality of those associations that make a memory.

There are two forms of memory: present moment and long haul. The present moment or working memory resembles your mind’s scratchpad. It’s the point at which your mind briefly stores data before either deleting it or moving it too long haul memory—for instance, you recollect what you need to arrange for lunch before calling the restaurant. Once the event has passed, your mind can relinquish that information. Long haul recollections are those recollections you clutch for a couple of days or numerous years–things like how to ride a bicycle or the first date you had with your partner, etc.

These two forms of recollections can debilitate with age on the grounds that the cerebrum loses cells, breaking the associations between neurons after some time. However, the memory loss is avoidable. Similar to muscle quality, you can practice and train your cerebrum. With memory, it tends to be the case of “use it or lose it.”


Lastly, to recover a memory, your cerebrum “replays” or returns to the nerve pathways made when the memory was framed. Reviewing data more than once helps to fortify those associations and your recollection. Refer to our article on the Ebbinghaus Curve for more, but this is the reason methods like taking and reviewing notes assist you with retaining data.

Be that as it may, when you remember something, it is seldom a definite representation of what you encountered on that first occasion. This discrepancy happens because our consciousness of the present circumstances blends with that memory. As The Human Memory clarifies:

Recollections are not solidified in time, and new data and proposals may get joined into old recollections after some time. Along these lines, recollecting can be thought of as a demonstration of inventive re-imagination.”

That is likely why individuals can have false or misleading recollections, or their recollections of occasions may change after some time. And why multiple witnesses to the same event will recant different scenarios about what occurred.

Since we now have a little background and understand something about how our memory works, we can take the next step and look at how our lifestyle impacts our memory. Hence we now explore seven areas where we can focus and perhaps transform to aid and improve our memory.

Oh to have the memory of an elephant – how good would life be?

Way of life Changes That Can Improve Your Memory…

As a rule, expanding your general wellbeing with better rest, normal exercise, and better sustenance will improve your mind wellbeing including memory–just as your physical wellbeing. These three things will give you the greatest value for your money in forestalling memory misfortune and improving your memory generally.

1. Sleep

Here’s a simple method to help your memory: Get a decent night’s rest or take a power nap subsequent to gaining some new useful knowledge. One research study found that individuals who rested for 8 hours in the wake of meeting new people and learning their names, could remember those people more accurately in contrast with the individuals who didn’t get the same amount of rest. Furthermore, in an examination of two research datasets, therapist Nicolas Dumay confirmed that in addition to the fact that sleep protects our cerebrums from overlooking recollections, it also allows us to recover recollections better.

Why would that be? Apparently rest “resets” our cerebrums and is basic for memory and learning. In case you’re restless, the mind’s neurons become over-associated with so much electrical movement that new recollections can’t be sorted and correctly stored.

So this challenges the idea of that late-evening cramming for a test or remaining up the entire night to practice your introduction. As the New York Times clarifies:

Hit the hay at your regular time; don’t stay up late checking Instagram. Studies have found that the first half of the night contains the richest dose of so-called deep sleep — the knocked-out-cold variety — and this is when the brain consolidates facts and figures and new words. This is retention territory, and without it (if we stay up too late), we’re foggier the next day on those basic facts.

Rests tally as well! Specialists found that sleeping of around 45 – 60 mins following discovering some new information could support your memory 500%.

So consider taking that afternoon post lunch nap. And if your Boss or colleagues discover you resting, simply share with them your new found discoveries.

2. Get Going

Just as rest is significant for both your physical and emotional wellness, so too is that other mainstay of well-being – the work out or exercise.

Our minds depend on oxygen to function properly and to get that oxygen, we need a solid progression of oxygen-rich blood flowing to our cerebrums. Exercise improves the bloodstream to the cerebrum. Analysts at the National Institute on Aging found that vigorous exercise, for example, running, is connected with improved memory. Exercise, for example, triggers elevated levels of a protein called cathepsin B, which goes to the brain to trigger neuron development and new associations in the hippocampus, a region in the cerebrum accepted to be base for memory.

Tests were done on mice, monkeys, and 43 stationary college understudies who had to get fit for the examination. And which were the subjects with the greatest enhancements in memory? You guessed it: those with the biggest increment in cathepsin B after physical movement.

Don’t hurry to get your running shoes right now, however. Subsequent to contemplating or discovering some new information, it may pay to pause. Exercising around 4 hours in the after learning may be preferred for improving memory over-exercise immediately following. Researchers are as yet uncertain why deferring exercise is more compelling than turning out promptly, however, maybe our brain needs time to absorb the new data before that cerebrum can be boosted from the exercise.

3. Diet

We don’t intend to seem like your mother, yet here’s the last way of life based proposal: Eat more advantageous.

You probably know this already, however, foods soaked in trans fats, sugars and heavily processed are not so good for you. Here’s an article that lists the following 5 groups of foods as unhealthy – Processed meats, Sugary foods, Sauces and dressings, Fried foods and finally a large group which is often marketed as healthy but actually contain large amount of sugar.

Cholesterol, in addition to being harmful to your heart and the cause of many diseases, can also impacts your brains ability to function. Harvard Health clarifies:

The buildup of cholesterol plaques in brain blood vessels can damage brain tissue, either through small blockages that cause silent strokes, or a larger, more catastrophic stroke. Either way, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen-rich blood they need to function normally, which can compromise thinking and memory

Specific diets, for example, the Mediterranean eating routine, which comprises for the most part of vegetables and natural products, olive oil, fish, and nuts—are sound unsaturated fats— and have been connected in various studies to upgrades in memory and slow the pace of memory decay.

4. Attempt Common Mnemonics

Psych Central notes that a mnemonic is a technique people can use to help them improve their ability to remember something, adding:

“It’s a memory technique to help your brain better encode and recall important information. It’s a simple shortcut that helps us associate the information we want to remember with an image, a sentence, or a word.”

There are many well-known mental aides that help you rapidly recall words or expressions. For instance, to recall the request for the planets circling the sun, you may have learned in grade school “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” (where the principal letter of each word represents Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, individually).

In an article titled “Stalking the Wild Mnemos: Research That’s Easy to Remember,” educational psychologist Joel R. Levin concluded: 

“Sufficient research evidence now exists to suggest that even skilled learners can become more skilled through mnemonic strategy acquisition and implementation.”

5. Make a Memory Palace

With the memory castle procedure, you partner an area you’re acquainted with, for example, your bedroom—with the things you’re attempting to recall. It works since you’re outwardly pegging (or “setting”) portrayals of what you need to recollect in places you have solid recollections of.

This wiki link explains the following 5 step process for creating your “loci”

The most common type of memory palace involves making a journey through a place you know well, like a building or town. Along that journey there are specific locations that you always visit in the same order. The location are called loci, which is Latin for locations.”

How to Create a Memory Palace?

  1. Step 1: For your first memory palace, try choosing a place that you know well, like your home or office.
  2. Step 2: Plan out the whole route — for example: front door, shoe rack, bathroom, kitchen, living room, etc. Some people find that going clockwise is helpful, but it isn’t necessary. Eventually, you will have many memory palaces. You will also be able to revise the memory palace after you test it a few times, so don’t worry if it’s perfect on the first try.
  3. Step 3: Now take a list of something that you want to memorize — a shopping list of 20 items is a good place to start: carrots, bread, milk, tea, oats, apples, etc.
  4. Step 4: Take one or two items at a time and place a mental image of them in each locus of your memory palace. Try to exaggerate the images of the items and have them interact with the location. For example, if the first item is “carrots” and the first locus in your memory palace is the front door, picture some giant carrots opening up your front door.
  5. Step 5: Make the mnemonic images come alive with your senses. Exaggeration of the images and humor can help.

6. Recall More with Chunking

Piecing or chunking is another mental aide that can make a lot of data progressively noteworthy. You likely use it already. To recollect or share a telephone number, odds are you piece the numbers so they’re simpler to recall: “888” “555” “0000”– as opposed to the more memory-escalated “8 5 0.” Research proposes that our cerebrum can hold 4 -7 unique things in its working (present moment) memory. However, by gathering data into littler sets, we can “hack the constraints of our working memory,”

According to neuroscientist Daniel Bor, author of The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning, chunking represents our ability to “hack” the limits of our memory.

Chunking allows people to take smaller bits of information and combine them into more meaningful, and therefore more memorable, wholes.

Bor argues that our natural tendency to see patterns and make connections is not just important for memory, but that it is also the source of creativity. As Steve Jobs once famously suggested, “Creativity is just connecting things.” – extract from the

7. Record It, Don’t Type It Out

Set aside your PC. You’re bound to better recollect notes you compose by hand than those you type.

There are a couple of reasons why penmanship is desirable over utilizing your PC with regards to memory. To start with, the physical demonstration of composing invigorates cells at the base of your brain called the RECTICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM (RAS). When the RAS is triggered, your mind gives more consideration to what you’re doing right now. At the point when you’re composing by hand, your cerebrum is increasingly dynamic in framing each letter, contrasted with composing on a console where each letter is spoken to by indistinguishable keys.

Likewise, when individuals take notes on their workstations, they will in general translate addresses verbatim. On the other hand, when taking notes by hand, we tend to reframe the data in our own words–a progressively dynamic sort of learning.

Maybe far better: Create mind maps for themes you’re learning. It consolidates the visual component recall, our cerebrums lock onto pictures with manually written words.

Reward Tip: Offload the Stuff You Don’t Need to Memorize

The human cerebrum is unfathomable. Since our neurons can store numerous recollections one after another, our psychological stockpiling limit is someplace around the 2.5 petabytes (million gigabytes) extend enough to hold 300 years of constant TV Shows. All things considered, while we don’t risk our minds getting full, there are huge amounts of data we go over that we can basically offload to our computerized devices. Remembering data requires exertion, so we should concentrate on the data that we truly need to focus on.

Research sources:

TED Talks

University research papers



This is a new series of articles looking into learning and things the Leader should understand in this regard. It will be a highly informative and educational suite of articles.

Category: Learning 4 Execs


Until then, bye for now. Wayne

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