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Hacking Your Memory

Remembering things and recalling information has nothing to do with how smart you are; it has to do with how good your memory is. The Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that there were two basic types of memory: natural memory and artificial memory. Natural memory is the memory you are born with. Some of us have a better natural memory than others. You cannot do much about your natural memory, but you can change your artificial memory. Artificial memory is remembering and recalling information using special tricks. Ace your next test by using the following memory hacks to expand your artificial memory.


Remembering Unordered Lists

The Memory Palace Method

The memory palace method, also called loci, helps you remember long lists of items by utilizing visual memory. With the memory palace method, you visualize the items you need to remember in a setting that you are very familiar with, such as your home. For example, if you need to remember a list of items that you want to purchase from the hardware store, you could visualize each separate item sitting somewhere in your home. To do this, close your eyes and imagine walking through your home and looking into each room. Visualize each separate item sitting in a different location in you home. For example, you can visualize a box of nails sitting on top of your bed, a piece of sheet metal resting against your bathroom door or a hammer in your bathroom sink. The more graphic you make the image, the easier it will be to recall later. So, for example, instead of visualizing a box of nails on your bed, you could visualize a large nail hammered into the middle of your mattress. When you later need to recall the information, imagine you are strolling through your home and looking into each room, and look for the items that you mentally placed in the different areas.


Remembering Ordered Lists

The Mnemonic Chaining Method

The mnemonic chaining method can help you remember ordered lists. To use the mnemonic chaining method you create a story that associates the words with each other in the order you need to remember them. For example, to remember dog, house, pepper, ball and fire, you could create the following story, "The dog ran out of the house and found a pepper. Thinking it was a ball he grabbed it with his mouth and soon his tongue felt like it was on fire."


Using a Catchy Phrase

Another way to remember ordered information is to use the catchy phrase method. For example, you can remember where north, south, east and west are located by creating the catchy phrase, "Never eat sour watermelon." While you repeat the phrase, imagine a compass. Say the phrase as you start at the top of the compass and work your way around the circle clockwise. The first letter from each word in the phrase helps you remember that the directions are north (never), east (eat), south (sour), west (watermelon).


Remembering Words

Using Link Words

Link words can be helpful when you are trying to learn a word from a new language or when you are trying to remember an uncommon word from your own language, like when you're studying SAT or GRE vocab. To use the link word method for remembering words, you first associate the unfamiliar word with another word you are familiar with. Then you visualize a scene that helps you remember the meaning of the word. Try it with the word "kima", which means monkey in Swahili. If you break down the pronunciation of the word it sounds like key ma. To remember both the word and the meaning, you can use the following sentence, "The monkey made me drop my key, Ma! Can you let me in the house?" Imagine the sentence you created in as much detail as you can so that it will be easier for you to recall later.


Using Sound to Increase Your Memory Power

Auditory memory (remembering by sound), can be another way for you to recall information. To do this, you need to associate what you need to remember with a specific character or voice. The best way to do this is to combine the auditory factor with the mnemonic devices you use for lists or sequences. So, for example, you can remember the phrase "Never eat sour watermelon" using Forest Gump's voice.

As with most things, practice makes perfect. The more you utilize the above memory tricks, the better your artificial memory will become. Practice every day and soon you will be the person that remembers everything.