Memory Training and Development

Short-term memory is an essential mental function required for every aspect of daily life. Most people find that while long-established facts and figures become hard-wired into the brain, every-day names, faces, and numbers must be constantly recalled and reviewed by short-term memory. For younger people this is not normally a problem. With the passing of time, however, it can become more difficult to recall names and faces, and figures needed for such things as prices or passwords tend to become more and more elusive.

Loss of short-term memory, however, is not inevitable. Systems and strategies are available to help anyone, regardless of education or academic ability, to train and develop the memory to function more effectively. Some memory-training programs are sophisticated and expensive, of course, and they are designed to help business and fiscal executives and others cope with complicated data. But intricate courses are not needed for everyday short-term memory needs. Some simple techniques can be easily applied, and when they are used on a regular basis, they can make a significant difference to memory effectiveness.

Concentration and imagination, first of all, can be applied to everyday activities and events in such a way that details will be easily recalled later. We can think of this as making mental notes about specific details of daily encounters. Most people deal with situations, people, sounds, and actions on a frequent basis, and they need to remember aspects of those events for future use. A person’s name, for example, can be easily forgotten, but by taking five seconds to concentrate on a name being heard for the first time, and by relating it to something well known, it will be easily recalled later. If someone is introduced as Charles Dickson, for example, the name will be recalled later if one notes mentally that it is similar to Charles Dickens.

Motivation can be another powerful stimulus to memory effectiveness. If one has a good reason for remembering certain data, and the benefits of knowing are clear, then it is more likely that details will be remembered. Passwords for access to banking information or computer files, for example, are essential, and most people can devise ways of remembering them. New material can be viewed in the same way. If the benefits of knowing and remembering the material are clear, it will be much easier to recall the details later.

When facts, figures, and events must be remembered, sometimes the best approach is to sit down with pencil and paper and formally learn them. Names and dates, jobs and assignments, lists and activities can all be jotted down in appropriate order, making them much easier to remember, and once they are arranged in logical sequence, they can be studied and assimilated. A quiet, relaxing learning environment will further enhance the ability to remember. Distractions must be removed, and sufficient light and fresh air need to be provided. A comfortable environment can significantly affect the desired results.

Finally, it is important to limit formal study sessions to manageable periods of time. Several short sessions are far more beneficial than one long session. Mental fatigue and anxiety are counterproductive to learning, and they should be regarded as a clear signal that it is time for a break. All material that must be remembered should be reviewed several times, in separate study sessions. Details that cannot be recalled after one study session will be remembered much better the second, third, or fourth time around.

The importance of short-term memory is clear. Expensive programs available on-line may be required by some people, but for every-day needs, the application of some simple memory techniques may be all that is needed.