If you have ever searched for a file on your computer, you will know how tedious the process is. After all, computers search for the file by going through the entire searchable area sequentially. So, the time taken to find the file increases as the size of the searchable area increases. 

The human memory, on the other hand, is different. It is so vast that it can store every single instant of your life, from birth to death. At the same time, it can retrieve any memory instantly, despite having such a vast storage area. And despite having such a powerful weapon in our heads, we don’t use it properly. 

When you are a baby, you look at everything around you, and your brain stores their names, shapes, and colors in your memory. However, as you age, you get into other commitments and stop observing, reading, and learning. But the human memory is like any other muscle in our body. You have to keep training it if you want to improve your memory. So, if you are interested in finding out how to improve your memory, keep reading this blog post. Find out what your memory is made of and how you can improve each part of your memory. 

According to the Multi-store model of memory, human memory is divided into a sequence of three stages. If you want to read about the multi-store model in detail, or read about other health-related topics, check out wisuru

Every piece of information that enters your body through one of your senses moves through each of these three stages. 

#1. Sensory memory

This is the first stage of memory. Any information that enters the sensory memory lasts only 0.2s to 0.5s. By the end of this time, the information is sent to the next stage of memory if your brain senses that it is necessary. 

For example, when you look at something and close your eyes immediately, you will notice that you remember the scene you saw for a very short time. This is because, during this time, all the information you saw entered the sensory memory. If you focus on any one thing in the scene (the number plate of a car or the shape of a tree), you will notice that you remember it for a longer time. This is because, since you focussed on one particular thing, your brain considered it essential and passed on that information to the next stage of memory, the short-term memory. 

So, to improve your sensory memory, you have to eliminate the distractions, if any, and learn to concentrate or focus. 

#2. Short-term memory

This is the second stage of memory. Any information that is passed on from the sensory memory enters the short-term memory. Information in the short-term memory typically lasts for 10s to 15s. During this time, if you take any conscious steps to retain this information, it will be sent to the next stage of memory, the long-term memory. At any point in time, your brain can store five to nine pieces of information in short-term memory. As new information enters the short-term memory, the older data are generally erased. 

For example, when you read a sentence, the first part of the sentence is stored in your short-term memory until you finish reading the sentence. Without short-term memory, you won’t be able to understand any of the sentences you read. You can use many techniques to retain the information in your short-term memory for a longer time. 

  1.  If you want to buy five items from a store, you will find that you can remember them longer if you kept repeating these five items within your head. Thus, the first method to enhance your short-term memory is repetition. 
  2. You would have noticed that you could remember the items longer if they are related. For example, if three of these five items are related, say bathing gel, shampoo, and conditioner, you can remember them for a longer time by grouping them as bathing items. Thus, the second method to enhance your short-term memory is to group similar items together. By grouping similar items together, you can also store more items in your short-term memory.
  3. Meditation also helps enhance your short-term memory.

#3. Long-term memory

This is the third and last stage of human memory. If you make a conscious effort to retain information longer in the short-term memory, the information enters the long-term memory. In long-term memory, an infinite amount of information can be stored for an infinite time. 

Long-term memory can be further divided into declarative memory and procedural memory. In declarative memory, facts (For example, the sun rises in the east) and events (For example, the first date with your high-school crush) are stored. In procedural memory, the memories of the skills you have learned (For example, swimming) are stored. 

You can take the following measures to retain information in your long-term memory longer and retrieve it faster. After all, retrieving information from your memory is the whole point of storing it in the first place. 

  1. You might have noticed that if an event that triggers your past happens, you will not forget it easily. For example, you and your girlfriend have broken up, and you have preserved the coffee mug she gave you. If someone breaks that coffee mug, then you will remember it for a very long time. So, by associating the new information with an event or information that is already stored in your long-term memory, you will be able to retain it longer and retrieve it faster. 
  2. When your brain creates an entry in the long-term memory, it creates a connection between specific neurons (brain nerve cells). When you sleep, your brain reinforces the connection between neurons, which it has formed during the day. So, adequate sleep of seven to nine hours is essential for your memory to work properly.

iii) Another method you can take to retain information longer is to retrieve it at increasing time intervals. For example, read something first. Then, try to remember it after one day, then after three days, then after one week, then after one fortnight, and so on. By doing so, you will strengthen the connection between the neurons that form that particular memory. Hence, the memory of that information will strengthen. Thus, you will retain it longer and retrieve it faster. This is precisely why your teachers advise you against cramming one day before the exam. 

We hope that this blog post helped you learn more about memory and how you can improve it. Have you tried any other methods to improve your memory? Have these methods helped you? If so, kindly share your methods with us in the comments below.