Short and Long Term Memory - Best Ways of Improvement

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Strategies for Improving Short-Term Memory

Ten ways to improve short-term memory include eating less sugar, eating less refined carbs, taking fish oil supplements, meditation, walking backward, getting more sleep, exercise, avoiding alcohol, brain training games, and practicing mindfulness. More information about each strategy is presented below.

1. EAT LESS SUGAR

  • According to Healthline, “Research has shown that a sugar-laden diet can lead to poor memory and reduced brain volume, particularly in the area of the brain that stores short-term memory.”
  • This can be easily implemented by drinking less soda, comparing food labels, or replacing sugar completely.
  • Eating less sugar improves short-term memory by reducing the health issues associated with it like chronic diseases and cognitive decline.

2. EAT LESS REFINED CARBS

3. TAKE FISH OIL SUPPLEMENTS

  • It was found that fish oil and other DHA/EPA supplements can significantly improve short-term memory scores, especially in older individuals.
  • Supplements can be implemented into your diet by taking pills or eating fish that is high in omega 3s such as salmon.
  • Supplements help improve short-term memory because they have been proven to relieve stress and anxiety, slow mental decline, and reduce inflammation. Inflammation has been linked to cognitive decline.

4. MEDITATION

  • Meditation and relaxation techniques have been proven to improve short-term memory in people aged 20 and older.
  • Mediation can be implemented by using apps like Headspace or just changing your routine to include meditation.
  • Healthline says some studies show meditation may increase gray matter in the brain, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and improve memory.

5. WALK BACKWARDS

  • According to Harvard Health, there was a study conducted that found walking backward, imagining walking backward, and visually seeing someone walking backward can improve short-term memory.
  • This can be implemented by walking backward for a short time to help remember something that happened recently. A person could also watch a video that depicts backward motion to achieve the same effect.
  • Doctors are not completely sure why this works but they assumed it has to do with “people associating going backward with the past and somehow this triggers a memory response.

6. GET MORE SLEEP

  • Lack of sleep can cause poor memory but getting the recommended amount of sleep can improve memory by 20%.
  • To implement this strategy a person would need to get at least the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep daily to keep cognitive abilities at optimal health.
  • Getting more sleep allows the brain to consolidate memories which improve overall memory.

7. EXERCISE

  • Exercise is not just good for your physical body it is good for mental health as well.
  • Studies show that 15 minutes of moderate exercise can improve cognitive performance and memory.
  • According to the New York Times, there was a study published in The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society that showed about 30 minutes of exercise on an exercise bike can improve semantic memory which is based in short-term memory.

8. AVOID ALCOHOL

9. TRAIN YOUR BRAIN

10. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

  • Healthline defines mindfulness as, “a mental state in which you focus on your present situation, maintaining awareness of your surroundings and feelings.”
  • Being mindful lowers stress and improves concentration and memory. Studies show mindfulness training improved recognition-memory performance when recalling objects.
  • Ways to implement mindfulness techniques is to focus on present situations, concentrate on your breathing and by resetting your focus if you mind wanders.
  • There are also mindfulness exercises for adults, children, and groups on websites like Positive Psychology, Pocket Mindfulness, and the Mayo Clinic.

RESEARCH Strategy

Please note that a deep search into academic health research (via PubMed) revealed very little that got right to the point of strategies proven to help short-term memory. The reason for the lack of detail may be due to the nature of peer-reviewed and respected research where the smallest part of a scheme or the most scientific elements are looked at and tested in a more deconstructed fashion. There is very little recent academic research on specific controlled tests for strategies that improve short-term memory. Most of the data present had to do with offshoots like genetic strategies/neurons, cognitive therapy/depression, or design strategies/layout. For this reason, we have relied on respected articles and news that feature some suggested ways to improve short-term memory (please also note that some articles are a bit older but their data may still be relevant and valuable).
Part
02
of two
Part
02

Strategies for Improving Long-Term Memory

Ten actionable strategies for improving long term memory include learning through multiple channels, remembering only the relevant information, linking new knowledge with existing knowledge, improving attention span, practicing similar problems, meditation, collaboration, dual coding, organizing the information and association.

Multiple Channels

  • Research has shown that presenting information over different modalities, for example presenting the information visually, verbally and through words at the same time, improves memory
  • Because it does not overload a single processing area, it allows the brain to make use of its integrating capabilities and reinforces each channel.
  • Examples of this could include learning through watching and listening to a video while reading the close-captioning.

Relevant Information Only

  • Getting rid of all unnecessary information maximizes the cognitive resources available for relevant processing.
  • It reduces the effort required to identify what information is crucial.
  • Examples of this include taking notes and listing only the relevant information, e.g. Columbus=1492 or x-axis = bottom, y-axis = side

Generate from existing knowledge

  • Integrating new information into previously known information involves applying previously possessed skills and knowledge to new problems to be solved.
  • This works by freeing up space in the working memory.
  • Examples of this could include discussions with other people, asking questions and underlining the new information in noting taking.

Improve attention span

  • Recent research has forged a link between the ability to remember with the ability to pay attention.
  • Paying attention helps "improve verbal learning and memory through improved encoding processes."
  • Tactics shown to improve attention span include chewing gum, drinking lots of water, and cognitive behavioral therapy if the problem is severe.

Practicing similar problems

  • In a research study individuals who were provided with worked examples spent less time studying, while achieving an increased ability to remember how to solve a problem.
  • This occurred still maintaining a" lower level of subjective cognitive load than their peers who were provided with conventional problems"
  • An example of this is practicing similar math problems so those learned skills can be used to complete new math problems.

Meditation

  • Research has shown that the practice of meditation is associated to neuroplasticity phenomena which improves cognitive functioning.
  • Neuroimaging studies have shown that the brain connectivity changes in mediators, making the brain more efficient.
  • While there are seven different kinds of meditation, mindfulness meditation and breath awareness mediation are the most effective for improving memory. All seven are described here.

Collaboration

  • Not only does being alone help, but in some groups or for certain kinds of memories, working with others can lead to “collaborative facilitation” such that a collaborative group recalls as much as, or even more than, learning alone.
  • Cognitive psychologists have suggested that collaboration with others may have "therapeutic value in facilitating subsequent individual memory performance" — in other words — helping people remember more.
  • Working with others to learn and retain in long term memory also helps an individual understand better and sharpens problem solving skills.

Dual Coding

  • Dual coding is a mnemonic strategy that involves linking pictures to words in a person's mind to help them remember.
  • Dual coding works because it reinforces the neural connections already in the brain.
  • Examples of dual coding can be as simple as linking a picture with a word or sentence in the person's mind, or as complex as putting items to be remembered in a table.

Organization of Information

  • When looking at information to be learned, grouping information that refer to one another, or are similar, close together is a helpful technique.
  • It eliminates the need for unnecessary visual search and helps the mind keep related information together.
  • Examples of this include turning a list of words into a sentence using the first letter of each word. The most well know is turning the order of operations in mathematical formulas (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, Addition and Subtraction) into Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.

Association

  • Creating strong connections in a person's mind also helps with long term memory.
  • This method also works by reinforcing existing neural networks and connections.
  • This method is particularly useful when trying to remember a foreign language. If the brain can connect a phonetic based approach to the new word and find a visual connect, that helps reinforce the memory.

Research Strategy

In researching for strategies to improve long-term memory, we made the connection that teaching and learning research are in fact about finding ways to improve retention — in other words long term memory. We therefore researched not only psychology articles on how the brain works but teaching and learning strategies as well.

All of the sources refer either directly or indirectly to helping store information in long term memory.
In each example, we were also able to link the teaching or learning strategies to scientific research on how the brain works., i.e neural networks, connectivity, cognitive load, and the brain's encoding process, thereby explaining how the strategy works.


Sources
Sources

From Part 02
Quotes
  • "Routine practice and drilling following explicit teacher-directed instruction should help students become quick and accurate in solving basic operations, thereby becoming procedurally fluent. Becoming procedurally fluent in turn should help students by freeing up their cognitive capacities to solve more complex tasks"