Memory

6 Memory Techniques to Help You Keep Things in Mind Effortlessly

Have you found yourself missing appointments or forgetting simple tasks? Do you secretly worry that you might be losing your mind? Never fear! You and millions of others are struggling with this same issue every single day. We live in such a fast paced world, and very connected, that it is easier to forget or not retain information on a regular basis. Think about it. 30 years ago you could dial a phone number from memory and not think twice about it. Now we rely on the contacts list in our phone and never really have to memorize a number.

So what happens when we want to remember things and we feel like we can’t? We go back in time and pick up the old ways and make them new!

Get creative and rhyme things out

One of the easiest ways to remember something is to put it into a rhyme or create a song. I can remember when I was young, I had a hard time remembering how to spell Valentine. I consistently wanted to spell it “Valentime”. So in order to learn it, I would sing a song called “will you be my Valentine” that has you spell out the word Valentine, rather than say it. And think about it, the songs and rhymes are often easiest for us to remember because of the beat of how we recite them. If you actually sat down and thought about how many songs you know by heart, you’d be pretty amazed with yourself!

Surprise, you can use mnemonic devices to memorize things too!

Mnemonic devices are a fantastic way to remember things. Everyone knows about the order of mathematics thanks to Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (aka PEMDAS). Without that mnemonic device, I would have failed math quickly!

Always associate with something else when you get…

This Is Why Classical Music Lovers Are Smarter

has heard of that parent who makes their infant child listen to Mozart out of the hope that he will be smarter and thinks it is absurd. But the reality is that scientific studies show that music, and particularly classical music, could really help improve our brains and learning.

Unfortunately, people have a tendency to misunderstand the actual science, which results in two problematic results. Either you pop in a CD of Mozart’s songs and listen to it for a few hours hoping to be a genius, which is absurd. Or you look at that absurd scenario and conclude that music does not help improve your brain at all, which is also incorrect in a different way. A proper look at the mental benefits of classical music gives a much more nuanced picture.

No, listening to Mozart for hours upon hours will not mean the difference between a child being a dunce or the next Einstein. But if you understand what classical music does to our brains, you will understand that it can make a small, if noticeable difference.

Nothing Happens Overnight. Benefits Accumulate over Time.

As the BBC notes1 the idea that listening to Mozart improves intelligence has been around since 1991 in response to a study published from the University of California. But as so often happens in science, a researcher makes a modest discovery only for journalists and the common people to wildly blow those small claims out of proportion. All the researchers found was that for a short period of about 15 minutes after listening to Mozart, young adults performed menial spatial tasks better.

But after that study, scientists took a further look at the effects of music in general and classical music in particular on our brains. Some studies found that individuals memorized objects better or performed better on learning…

Why Can’t You Remember Being a Baby?

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Most of us don’t remember infant or toddlerhood. My sister swears she can remember being two years-old. I can’t remember anything before three-and-a-half. It was when they took her home from the hospital. I remember I was so excited, not because of my new baby sister, but because I was getting Spiderman comic books, for being so good during the ordeal. But why do we all have this hole in our memory? Why can’t we remember being a baby?

Sigmund Freud was the first to address this phenomenon, what he called infant amnesia or childhood amnesia. He thought it had to do with being bombarded by abundance of psychosexual phenomenon which, were you to process it, might make your head explode. This theory is no longer considered valid. Since then, neuroscientists, psychologists, and linguists have each approached the question in different ways.

Certain breakthroughs in the study of memory are now offering insights. Neuroscientists today believe, it’s because areas of the brain where long-term memory is stored aren’t fully developed yet. Two areas are responsible for memory formation—the hippocampus and the medial temporal lobe. Besides long-term and short-term memory, there are two other aspects, semantic and episodic memory. Semantic memory is remembering necessary skills or where objects in the environment can be found, both of which help us navigate the world.

Model of memory formation for spoken words. By Matthew H. Davis and M. Gareth Gaskell [CC BY 3.0], Wikimedia Commons.

The parts of the brain necessary for semantic memory are fully matured by age one. Yet, the hippocampus isn’t quite able to integrate the disparate networks it manages at that age, quite yet. This isn’t achievable until somewhere between the ages of two and four.

Episodic memory strings individual plot points together, to form the kind of linear structure we’re used to. Curiously, the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for episodic memory, isn’t fully developed until we’re in our twenties. Memories from the 20s and beyond, may have more added texture and depth and include important details, such as the date and time in which an incident occurred. Interestingly, in the 1980s, researchers discovered that people remember what happened…

What Do Our Dreams Mean? Psychologists Have Different Answers

For a long time, dream has been under the radar of many scientists. It has been such a mythical phenomenon that many would like to know more about. More importantly, many of us are curious about the answer to the question “Why do we dream?”.

There is no certainty about the actual function of sleep or dreams. And everybody dreams, yet memories of dreams remembered varies.

What do dreams do to us? Do they serve any purposes at all?

This is a question that remains unanswered. The speculations and theories continue.

A common theory is that sleep and dreams work as a team, helping the brain to refresh and restore after capturing millions of inputs each day. The inputs are sensory details that may be minor like colours and major mind boggling details like those in seminars or presentations. While sleeping, the brain sifts through the information and refines it, keeping what is needed and disposing content into the recycle and trash compartments. Researchers have speculated that dreams are a tool in this process.

Dreaming is the protoconscious state. This occurs during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. It also occurs at other stages including the fourth stage of sleep ( Slow Wave Sleep-SWS). This is the deepest stage of sleep. Studies shown dreams vary according to sleep stage they occur in. Most dreams are reported during the REM stage. 1

Sleep stages

Emerging neuroscience views insinuate that dreams are linked to memory consolidation that occurs during sleep. These many include recording and organising memories according to emotional drives as well as transferring memories…

Why When We Feel Upset, We’re Actually Arming up Instead of Breaking Down

People handle difficult situations in many different ways. Have you had news that upset you, but instead you carried on with your day as if it didn’t happen? Or perhaps you have heard stories of people who went through traumatic episodes yet have no memory of them?

Defense mechanisms are the different ways that people deal with challenging experiences.

It is important to pay close attention to them and understand how they can be better controlled. If they go unnoticed, these reactions could end up causing more harm in the long term. Not addressing your emotions in a healthy way could lead to issues such as anxiety, stress or depression. It could also have an adverse effect on your relationships with those around you, especially if you react in a way that may end up being hurtful to the other person.

1. Repression

Your mind purposely buries a painful memory in your subconscious that prevents you from being fully aware. It blocks out specific emotions or memories as a way to protect you.

An example of this could be not remembering a particularly difficult childhood occurrence.

2. Denial

This is the inability to address something that is difficult. It is regarded as one of the most primitive defence mechanisms and it is a common coping strategy for many people.

An example of this could be not believing that you have a substance abuse problem, despite getting into debt to fund the habit.

3. Regression

You revert to an almost childish way of dealing with problems. The reaction is stemmed in a seemingly immature behaviour since you feel unable to deal with it rationally.

An example of this could be sulking or having a tantrum when you get into an argument.

4. Projection

You attribute your own insecurities or thoughts on someone else. Generally it is adopted when certain actions or thoughts are unacceptable and despite potentially knowing this, you are not able to express it as such.

An example of this could be accusing your partner of flirting when you are having an affair.

5. Displacement

This is where you channel your emotions onto something or someone else. You may be in a situation where you are unable to express it directly, such…

How to Stop Nightmares and Get A More Restful Sleep!

Have you ever experienced a bad dream so horrifying that your heart was pounding when you woke up? Perhaps this is a regular occurrence for you, and you’ve started to dread going to bed?

Nightmares can ruin your sleep and leave you feeling exhausted during the day, but fortunately there are steps you can take to get a better night’s rest.

Nightmares are more common in young children, but can affect anyone. They are not harmful, but can result in fatigue if they continue every night or most nights over a long period of time.

Understand the science behind nightmares, as this may make them less frightening.

When we sleep, we progress through several stages throughout the night. You can think of sleep as occurring in waves or cycles, with each lasting between 90 and 110 minutes. This is further subdivided into five stages, known as Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4, and REM sleep. It is in this final stage that dreams and nightmares occur. Scientists are not sure exactly why we dream or precisely how the brain generates this strange experience. One theory is that during REM sleep, the brain may be attempting to form a coherent “story” from fragments of knowledge and memories it previously stored away. Around half of adults will have nightmares occasionally.

So what causes nightmares? According to the 1, the following may trigger nightmares in adults:

1. Stress and Trauma

It is common for those with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions to experience nightmares. For example, an individual with anxiety disorder may have dreams in which they feel overwhelmed and as though they are facing a danger beyond their control. People who have experienced trauma may also have nightmares in which they relive the incident.

Some medications affect sleeping patterns, which may trigger nightmares. For example, some anticonvulsants medicines used in the treatment of epilepsy) can result in especially vivid dreams.

3….

How to Have an Einstein’s Brain Even If You’re Not a Natural Born Genuis

Do you ever find yourself having to read an article several times before it makes sense? How about having to revisit online tutorials again and again because they just won’t stick?

Don’t worry… you’re not alone and you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at Cognitive Load Theory and discover how we can use it to make learning easier and start retaining everything in a single sitting.

Similar to the way athletes leverage the body’s processes to improve sports performance, we can leverage the way the brain processes information to make complex concepts easier to grasp. With that said… let’s get into a complex concept.

The 3 Essential Stages for Our Memory to Stick

There are several theoretic models that attempt to explain how the mind processes information. One of the most prominent is the Atkinson–Shiffrin model1, published in 1968. According to this model, external information has to journey through three stages of our memory in order to stick.

These three stages are:

  1. Sensory memory – a filter which discards unnecessary information
  2. Working memory – a gateway to the long-term memory, passing on information via repetition and schemas (explained below)
  3. Long-term memory – where information sticks

To complete the explanation above, a schema is simply a way to organise multiple memories into a single entity through classification and association. Once information is sorted into schemas it’s changed from something abstract to something familiar, connected and easy to recall.

Just Imagine You’re in a Cafe, and Here’s How the 3 Stages Work in Your Brain

You’re in a café, sipping on a cappuccino whilst reading an article about the discovery of a new, strange animal.

Your sensory memory filters out the background noise of the café, the taste of the coffee and the smell of the food, and allows you to retain the information about this new animal.

Next, your working memory searches existing schemas in your long-term memory for anything resembling the animal… and it finds a close match.

The animal is similar to a cat, so it’s added to your…

30+ Life Skills That Aren’t Taught in School but Largely Affect Our Lives

What do you remember learning at school? Algebra? Shakespeare? Chemistry? Baseball? Chances are, your teachers taught you all sorts of useless stuff, without including any actual life skills. But don’t despair – there’s still plenty of time to learn.

So, what exactly are life skills?

Put simply, life skills are the skills that allow us to live a full and happy life. 1 Without good life skills, you might struggle through failure after failure, disappointment after disappointment, wondering why you can’t seem to do anything right.

A study which followed 8000 people for 11 years showed that those with good life skills were healthier, happier and richer. 2. Those without good life skills were more likely to be depressed, isolated and unhealthy.

Want to maximize your chances of being happy, healthy and wealthy? Check out the huge list of life skills below, along with links to helpful learning resources.

It’s never too late to start improving yourself.

Ways to Excel in Learning

How to master a new language

This is a hugely beneficial skill that can give you the edge in your career, and help you make new friends from around the world.

How to train your brain

Keeping your brain in good shape will help you learn faster and think up novel solutions to tricky problems.

How to boost your memory

Wish you could remember more? Spend some time learning clever tricks to boost your memory.

How to enhance your observation skills

Being able to make good observations helps us solve problems, avoid danger, and draw insight from different situations.

How to use online resources to learn more

The internet is an amazing tool for education, and many resources are completely free.

How to have fun

Life isn’t all about work. Learn to have fun wherever you are and you’ll and massively boost your health and happiness.

Ways to Be Better at Communication

How to negotiate skillfully

Negotiation skills can come in handy when trying to get a higher salary, haggling for a better price at the shops, or dealing with difficult clients. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.

How to talk to a stranger

All friends start off as strangers! Being able to talk to new people without feeling uncomfortable is a great way to make connections in any situation.

How to solve a conflict

People won’t always agree with you, and that’s okay. Being able to peacefully solve conflicts is a great skill for work and relationships.

How to have an interesting conversation

Good conversation skills can turn dull small talk into a genuine, interesting connection.

How to express yourself clearly

People aren’t going to know what you’re thinking unless you tell them. Learning to express yourself clearly and boldly is a key step on the journey to self-confidence.

How to stop caring what others think

Life…

Researchers Enhance Human Memory with Electrical Stimulation

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How good is your memory? It usually varies from person to person. This much is easily recognizable. But did you know that the sharpness of your memory can vary from one day to the next? Those who have had a stroke or a traumatic brain injury (TBI), often face memory impairment. They have limited options to overcome the problem and it hampers their quality of life significantly. 270,000 veterans and active military personnel are living with TBI, currently.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have just published a landmark study that could lead to a novel treatment option for memory impairment. It involves tiny electrical impulses delivered directly to certain parts of the brain at the proper time. The study was published in the journal Current Biology. The director of the computational memory lab at UPenn Michael Kahana, led the project. Twenty collaborators from other universities across the country also chipped in.

Professor Kahana and colleagues selected 150 participants. Each had severe epilepsy and electrodes implanted into their brains. This allowed them to undergo what is known as closed-loop cognitive stimulation. The system can monitor the brain, and deliver electrical stimulation to specific targeted areas.

Electrodes hooked up to a participant’s brain. Airman Magazine.

In the first leg of the experiment, volunteers were made to memorize all the items on a list, while researchers recorded their brainwaves. An AI algorithm was then given their brainwave data and studied it. With this method, researchers were able to predict which participants could correctly recall the items on the list, based on how their brain operated at the time of memorization. Next, they practiced delivering an…

From Mind Control to Curing Brain Diseases, a Neuroscience Revolution Is Coming

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If the idea of physicalism is correct — that all of our mental states can be described in purely physical terms — then neuroscience is not only the study of our brains, but the study of our entire existence. Neuroengineering, defined as the application of engineering principles to neurological problems, then becomes how we engineer our relationship with existence itself.

Fifty years ago, nobody but computer programmers knew the personal computer was being developed, and the primary market for the device was thought to be scientists. Today, computers are a ubiquitous.

Digital technology has revolutionized nearly every facet of our lives. Today, neuroengineering is in a similar infancy. While most people would understand the basic idea of using engineering techniques to alter, improve, repair, and study neural systems, most people would lack for ideas on the application.

This article is part of a series sponsored by The Hertz Foundation. Discover more of what remarkable students can do in the sciences: — From Space Elevators to Drone Delivery, Looking for Failure Inspires Innovation

Dr. Ed Boyden is somebody who does not lack for those ideas.

Brain Science: Optogenetics and Expansion Microscopy Edward Boyden

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Brain Science: Optogenetics and Expansion Microscopy

Ed-boyden-hs

Edward Boyden

MIT Professor, Media Lab Synthetic Neurobiology Group Leader

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As professor of Biological Engineering and Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, Boyden has launched an award-winning series of classes at MIT which teach principles of neural engineering, starting with the basic principles of how to control and observe neural functions. While studying neuroscience at Stanford University as a Hertz Foundation Fellow, Boyden discovered that human memories are stored by a specific molecular mechanism, and that the content of a memory determines the mechanism used by the brain.

His work focuses on dramatically improving how the brain is imaged, opening a world of opportunities for people who wish to study the neural pathways that make our brains work. Dr. Boyden’s high resolution 3-D maps of the brain, unlike prior 2-D maps, allow researchers to pinpoint exactly what part of the brain they wish to…