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Your Memory How It Works & How to Improve It


It is a common thing that people are fond of forgetting what they once knew or find it hard to recall some information that one needs. Studying and passing is reliant on memory as well as many other things such as appointments, names of people amongst other things and activities as well as skills that we practice daily. In “Your Memory” by Kenneth L. Higbee, a fascinating survey of techniques used for remembering information, is provided for people wishing to understand the science it entails. Higbee makes a point that understanding the techniques of memory and how they work can help improve one’s memory. Several techniques are revealed, which are helpful for learning and remembering as much as one can remember, such as loci technique, peg, phonetic and link. Also addressed in the book, is more information on mnemonics and their use in the memory.

General overview

The book starts with an introduction into the issues on memory, where it provides the reader with ten myths about memory that people know. This provides the reader with knowledge that what one thinks is true might not be true, which means such myths only limit the ability of improving one’s memory. Additionally, it gives some information what one can expect from their memory in order to understand its capability as well as potential. The chapter discusses these myths with an aim of giving the reader a realistic idea on what the memory could do as well as could not do. Some of the myths that help in understanding memory is the first one stating that memory is a thing. For sure, it does not exist in this context, since it means it is part of the body, where one can have a good one or bad one. Rather, the memory is a process of recalling information. Another myth is that there is a secret to a good memory. He cites that there is no secret or tool towards memory improvement. Higbee further suggests that different materials and kinds of information will require different strategies for recalling. That makes it hard for one single tool to work on all kinds of information.

The next chapter addresses what memory is and how it works. He says, “without memory we would have to respond to every situation as if we had never experienced it,” (16). The fact is that every day, from childhood, we learn many things that we still recall even at old age and are able to practice every day such as writing. Without memory, we could not remember what we learnt. The second and third chapter provide detailed information on what memory is, including short-term and long-term and its measures. The third addresses how the memory works, addressing questions such as why we forget and how we remember different kinds of information.

The following two chapters provide basic principles of remembering almost anything that one wishes to remember. The fourth chapter provides basic principles of remembering such as meaningfulness, ‘reminds me,’ attention and organization. The fifth chapter provides further basic principles of remembering almost everything. Some of them include repetition, interest, feedback and among others. With such information, one has the basic methods of recalling what is learnt whether in class, or anywhere else. The sixth chapter comes in quite handy for students seeking to learn more about learning strategies that work best. Some of the strategies addressed include reduction of interference, reciting, using a study system and reviewing how well these strategies work. They are no use if they do not work.

The next eight chapters address the main point in the book providing scientific analysis of the memory. The seventh chapter introduces as to mnemonics. Mnemonics are any techniques that are used to aid the memory. An example of a mnemonic is acronyms made to represent several words or a set of information. For instance, the word HOMES can be used to remember the Great lakes, Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Seeing the words HOMES will trigger the right cue to recall the information required. Mnemonics uses the basic principles of memory outlined in the previous chapters. For instance, in the meaningfulness principle, the mnemonic techniques come in to make it meaningful by making patterns, rhymes and associations. This makes it easy to remember more information. Mnemonics techniques impose some meaningful organization on the information, following the organization principle. In general, mnemonics are used as aids of remembering information that would otherwise be easily forgotten by putting it in an organized meaningful structure.

Additionally, mnemonic techniques in the following chapters, in the books, have an association as one of their basic principles. For instance, in the link system found in the ninth chapter, all items are associated to each other. In the other techniques such as loci, peg, and phonetic systems, newly learnt materials are associated to those that were previously memorized. Here, materials that are easily remembered and already memorized are used as a filing system for remembering new information. The associations are made visually, which means that visual principles are crucial in the mnemonic systems. This applies as well attention principle, where mnemonics require concentration in order to create them as well as to form visual representations and associate them as appropriate. Therefore, in this book, mnemonics are the main techniques presented to improving memory, which encompass all the basic principles and memory techniques. This provides a comprehensive detail on how to use all of them together in improving memory.

Personal view

After reading the book, one is in a position to understand several things about memory. First, the book provides detailed information about what memory is and is not, what one can do with it, necessary principles for that provide guidance on improving it. This further helps one understand and find out what would be their best learning strategy. One of the most outstanding features of the book is its extensiveness. It provides scientific analysis and facts on memory strategies and puts them across in a language that even the nonprofessional can understand without much effort. After reading the book, I was fascinated by the amount of knowledge about the power of my brain that I never realized I had before. It is written with an aim of helping any person who wishes to improve their memory to do so using the scientific facts provided in the book.

In my opinion, considering the knowledge it provides the readers by offering techniques that one can use in improving their memory, it should be adopted for schools. Many students including myself as well find it hard sometimes to memorize some of the materials taught in class. With an understanding of how the brain works, it is possible for students to understand and select learning strategies that fit their each. All teachers should adopt this book by reading it and teaching it to their students a well. They should apply it in their classes in order to give the students a good chance of using their own ability to reach maximum potential. Learning the techniques of using the memory enhances learning, which means the book can help in improving education, in general, to its ability to improve student memory upon which learning is dependent. Higbee cites, “if I could have learnt these things early in my college career, I would have saved many hours and probably had a higher grade point average, (xiii)”. Therefore, if teachers could provide students with such techniques on improving memories, learning would be easier due to its ability to offer students better learning strategies.

People who wish to read this book should be prepared to learn extensive materials on the memory, starting with the basic information on what memory is. The book starts with providing an understanding of the basics of memory to detailed information, the way it works and techniques for improving it. One should be prepared to read and practice the strategies addressed, considering the book is not only structured for informing, but also guiding the reader who wishes to improve their memory. Knowledge is of no use if one does not have any purpose for it. Thus, after reading this book one should be ready to follow the techniques to improve themselves. It is written in a different approach, meant to serve all people in their efforts to improve their memory, which is especially crucial for any student. Understanding memory is vital in learning and improving it considering learning is dependent on it.

For people in the translating and interpreting program, a lot of memory, especially short-term is required to interpret as well as translate what speakers say. It therefore implies that such people should have a great understanding of their memory since it is not easy to remember everything that another person says and put in another language for another person to understand. For the interpreter, association technique is quite crucial here, and visualization since what is mentioned in another language will have to be associated to another word in another language. This requires both visual and association technique since what is mentioned in another language will have to be registered in visual terms in order to be associated to the right word that suits it. This leaves interpreters with little choice but to read the book and understand how their memories work, especially short-term that is very crucial for their tasks. Understanding ones memory is the crucial part in improving it.

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