MEMORY (continued)

Contents
of this section

Spaced Rehearsals
The Case of the Misplaced Keys
Types of Memory Failure

Spaced Rehearsals

Two kinds of memory have been researched in the past three decades.  First, new methods of mental activity have been developed to enhance memory.  One of these is called 'spaced rehearsals'.  Rehearsal usually involves repeating information over and over again until it sticks in the memory. For example, if a friend's new telephone number is 812357, you may try to commit the number to memory by repeating to yourself until you feel you will remember it in the future.  Traditional rehearsal was long thought to be the best way of learning something - that is, until spaced rehearsal was developed.  Spaced rehearsal involves repeating information once, then waiting a while before repeating it once more, then waiting twice as long before repeating it once more and so on.  This pattern of rehearsal has been shown to yield faster and better learning than just repeating the material to yourself over and over again.

The second method involves improving memory by making sure that a person is in the best possible physical and mental state for remembering.  This involves looking at a person's physical condition, not just his or her mental state but his or her emotional state, his or her attitude and motivation, and whatever stress he or she is under.  Research has shown that when one is in poor shape for any reason, memory performance suffers.  On the other hand, it is recognised that people can improve memory, if they acquire the habits of self-care in all aspects of health, emotional circumstances, attitudes, motivation and stress, as well as better social skills. 

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The Case of the Misplaced Keys

One of the common everyday memory problems that people find annoying is forgetting what one has done with misplaced keys.  Most people who have misplaced keys retrace their steps and movements; they can also imagine where they typically would place the keys.

Although retracing and imagination are good ways of remembering where one has left one's keys, they are not always enough.  Sometimes we can search for hours, before we find them.  Why aren't retracing and imagination immediately effective?

The main reason people misplae keys is actually not a failure of memory.  Factors such as fatigue and stress also often play apart.  If you go without sufficient sleep, neglect good eating habits, worry excessively, suffer an emotional upset, you mind will lose its focus. The first solution is then preventative.  If you take steps to reduce stress and take better care of yourself, this would help one to return to the state of 'best self'.

Another solution to the case of the misplaced keys is to stop and sit down, take a deep breath, engage in some activity divorced from the problem - read a magazine- slow down your thought processes, then retrace your steps and imagine your customary spots for putting your keys, you may discover that you will find your keys more quickly.

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Types of Memory Failure

Everyone forgets from time to time, and sometimes one feels that he or she is slow in learning a new skill, and remembering the sequence of a particular activity.  To count as a recall failure, either a person does not answer or produces the wrong answer, or does the wrong thing in a sequence of skill activity.  Like recall failures, recognition failures occur in different ways.  A failure to recognise a familiar object or person is sometimes called a 'miss' because the person has 'missed' something.  For example, if a person could not find his or her coat in the cupboard in which it was hung the person has 'missed' the coat.  An incorrect recognition of a new object or of an unfamiliar person is called a false alarm.  As an example, a person who accidentally puts on a coat that is similar to his or her own had made this kind of error.  When memory fails us, it does so in three ways.  We can fail to register something initially in memory, or we can fail to store over time what was successfully registered, or we can fail to retrieve something, despite successful registration and storage.  We know this because although we cannot remember something at the time we are asked, we manage to remember it later.  Many psychologists assume that memory consists of several components, each with its own specific job to do.

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