How Using A Mnemonic Device Can Help You With Information Retention
What is the the best way to memorize information?
Before we dive into the main thesis of this article, we should get a general understanding of how our brain performs the task of recalling material. From there, I’ll gear this article towards the memorization of information collected through reading. This approach can also be applied to any other forms of information sources.
How We Memorize Information
The brain is a complex organ and the centre of the nervous system. It’s primary purpose is to control the actions of the human body. Somewhere in it’s complex workings and subsystems, you will find the process for memory. How the brain performs the task of memory is a vast subject but for simplicity reasons, I will cover only the relevant. Our brain uses visualization and patterns as a model to aid in memorizing information. For example, lets read the following sentence:
“I have a great idea.”
Immediately after reading the sentence, the brain creates a visual image of it’s representation. To me the image represents a light bulb such as the image below:
This visual image then imprints itself in our brain and gets stored as data that can later be referenced in the form of memory. Visual imagery is the first part to help us memorize better. The second part is through something known as a mnemonic device. A mnemonic device is a specific cue you can use to remember complex concepts or ideas.
For example, if you want to remember the proper four cardinal direction sequence of North, East, South and West, you can remember the mnemonic device phrase of “Never Eat Slimy Worms.” The first letter in each word of the phrase represents the first letter of each word in the proper four cardinal direction sequence. Mnemonic devices can also be visual, kinesthetic or auditory. For this exercise we will use mnemonic device sentences to help us memorize better.
The Best Way To Memorize Information
A useful way to memorize information is to combine an image with a mnemonic device. Below is an example of a mnemonic device that I created to memorize the brainwave categories. This image helps me memorize the information easily because it shows the mnemonic device and the relation between each element. Note how I use images, keywords and a mnemonic device.
The brainwave categories are placed in order of frequency level. Beta being the highest and Delta being the lowest. The mnemonic device of “Big Apples Taste Different” helps me remember the proper sequence of brainwave levels. This is a very simple example. If you wish to memorize even more complex material, you need to scale the exercise and add more images, keywords and more mnemonic devices.
This exercise does not have to be fancy. It just has to be relevant enough for you to comprehend. It will help you memorize better because it captures the images your brain creates when information is read. Adding the mnemonic device element helps you memorize the information even better because it is rhythmic in nature. So the next time you need to memorize information, try drawing an image, place your keywords, and create a mnemonic device. You will surely come up with some very creative ideas that will help you remember more.
Joseph is an Iris instructor based out of Toronto. He loves to share his personal knowledge as an entrepreneur, and credits a lot of his success to speed reading techniques and productivity strategies.