The brain throughout life creates more neural connections that humans need in important processes:
- Producing and understanding speech.
- Controlling the movements of the body.
- The formation and strengthening of memory.
When these connections are destroyed, some areas of the brain stop interacting with each other. This makes it harder for the person to remember new information.
Now you will learn how to approach learning in the right way to keep everything you’ve learned in your memory forever.
How Neural Connections Are Formed
We are born with many neurons but few contacts between them. Neural connections form as we interact with the world around us, making us who we are.
At times, there is a desire or need to modify the connections that have already been formed. It seems that once they were formed without much effort in childhood, it will be easy to do so now. But if the adult isn’t constantly working on creating them, it will be more difficult to perceive and remember the new data. New nerve circuits are not as strong as the old ones, and they break down faster.
Memorizing Everything: General Guidelines
Memory is not real money slots or a wheel of fortune where it’s impossible to predict anything. Here you can use some techniques that can help you in almost all cases.
Understand the Values
According to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, the shelf life of new information in the human brain when mechanically memorized and without comprehension is not that long. After an hour, you can recall only 60% of what you’ve learned, after 10 hours it’s 35%, and after a week, it’s no more than 20%.
Meaningful information, on the other hand, is loaded into long-term memory and, therefore, is stored for much longer, especially if it is repeated correctly from time to time.
Repeat It Correctly
There is a universal algorithm of information repetition, which consists of 3 steps:
- Loading. The goal of the stage is to create a strong neural connection by repeating a small amount of information: an average of 5 pieces of information in a row, until the next and previous repetitions are equal in speed.
- Fixation. This stage is regular repetitions of the information for a week. The goal is to reach the maximum speed and keep it for 7 days, increasing time for the next repetition each time. Repetition should be done in the same way as at the loading stage.
- Saving. The main task is to periodically repeat information so that the speed doesn’t decrease.
With normal interval repetition, we recall material one at a time at specific intervals. But these intervals are not suitable for everyone because each person has different memory patterns.
Imagine that you need to boil water. It’s unlikely that you will turn the gas on and off at certain intervals: after 2 minutes, then after 10 minutes, then after 15 minutes. It’s better to boil water at once and maintain the temperature.
The situation with neural connections is similar – intervals only prevent them from getting established faster. When neural connections are strong, information is forgotten more slowly and reproduced more quickly in memory.
So, you should repeat until the rate of playback stops increasing, i.e. the tempo of the last 4-5 repetitions is about the same. The intervals between the previous and the next repetitions should be gradually increased, and the speed of playback should always be brought to the maximum. After a while, you will remember what you have learned faster and faster.
Set a Positive Mood
Our mood and thoughts directly affect the process. If you are always saying “I’ll never be able to do this” or “I’ll never be able to do this” then you are unlikely to reach your goal. Try to use only positive affirmations to program your brain to work and produce excellent results.
Tell yourself, “I’ll remember everything!”, “I have a good memory, and I’ll easily retell this difficult paragraph.” Let yourself know that one way or another you will succeed.
Besides general recommendations, there are memorization techniques that can help you load even the most difficult terms and phrases into your long-term memory.
A mind map is a diagram on which information is encoded as symbols. This versatile tool helps you to optimally structure data and load them into the memory as quickly as possible. To create a mind map, you should follow the following algorithm:
- Prepare. You will need a horizontally arranged sheet of paper and pencils. There should be at least four colors so that you can highlight key points in different colors. A bright image activates the right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for creativity, thus facilitating the generation of ideas. Draw by hand, so the information will be remembered better.
- Highlight the main idea and key points. Draw a suitable symbol or write the main idea in the center and circle it. Then decide on the main points on the topic, conduct them to the meaning of the branches from the center and also circle. From the main theses, draw branches to the subthemes. Keep space between the theses, placing them evenly – this will help to avoid confusion and clearly remember the location of all the points.
- Pick up the symbols. Each topic and subtopic should be coded by selecting appropriate symbols. They should be drawn from the same place, drawing the branches clockwise, so that you know exactly from which place to read the mind map.
- Finish the drawing. If you are not sure of your intentions, it is not necessary to circle the symbols of the last level – at this stage, it will be clear which symbol belongs to which branch. Take a few minutes to study the drawing. It is important that you understand what this or that symbol means.
- Voice the mind map. Begin with the main theme, moving clockwise to the subthemes, remembering what you meant by the symbols depicted.
- Reproduce from memory. Set aside the original mind-map and try drawing it on a blank piece of paper. When reconstructing a drawing from memory, you can use only one color, because in this case the speed of reproduction is important. If at any point you stall, skip it.
This method is useful when you have a lot of information to memorize. The essence of the method is to create a continuous chain of reference images connected with the necessary data.
Follow the algorithm:
- Define a reference system, a space associated with the information to remember. For example: a room, an apartment, an office, or any room with familiar surroundings.
- Choose the sequence with which you will mentally walk through that space. For example, clockwise.
- Connect the necessary data for remembering with the location of static objects in this space. Observe a certain sequence – this will help you navigate more easily. If you need to memorize a text for a lecture, start with the introduction: associate its main points with the object that is located at the beginning of the way, for example, a hanger in the hallway. Moving on to the basis of the lecture, associate each following thought with the next interior object. The connection should be strong, emotional, and physical.
The Edge Effect
This phenomenon was discovered by Hermann Ebbinghaus. Its essence is that a person remembers faster and accurately reproduces information located at the beginning and at the end of the text.
Try our little test for attention and memorization. Look at a series of words and try to remember them:
Train, book, radio waves, construction, pen, bottle, joy, magazine, car, rainbow, pillow.
The first words you remembered from the list were train and pillow. And in the middle of the list, you probably slowed down. How then does the edge effect help in remembering information if we can only reproduce the beginning and the end?
This principle suggests reading the text you need to memorize first and then highlighting the most difficult parts of it, starting to memorize them first or last. The edge effect does not always work completely because it depends on the information being learned, but in most cases it works.