My Learning Technique in Making My Memory Persist

The human mind and concept of memory is one of the most studied and continually developing fields in all of science. Very little can tell us more about our performance in school, accuracy of eyewitness testimony, or general recollection of past events than our memory. Quite possibly the biggest area of concern regarding our memories is how to best preserve them, all the while adding new ones into the bank of preexisting ones.

In order to best preserve and recall my memories for the highest academic performance, I decided to implement a more widely distributed study regimen, as opposed to cramming at the last possible minute like I’ve done for the better part of my high school career. The classes I will apply this towards in addition to AP Psychology are Economics and AP European History.

The essence of memory is the storage and retrieval of information over time. The three basic functions of memory are encoding: the processing of information into the memory, storage: the bank of encoded information, and retrieval: the process of using information stored in the memory.

Memory works by taking in information, choosing where to store that information (if at all), then retrieving it later as deemed necessary.

In order to best make my memory persist, I began studying in multiple 5-10 minute increments as opposed to 1-2 hours of plain repetition (rehearsal) before a test. This method of studying is known as “the spacing effect”. The spacing effect has been proven to be a better aide in the long term retention of information compared to cramming. Cramming information at the last minute stores information in short term memory, which if even remembered by the time of the test, will without a doubt be gone after then, making it useless for final exams or later projects. This essentially forces the relearning of information for later use, therefore making it more effective and time resourceful to learn the information correctly the first time, then go back later and review, opposed to starting the process all over again.

Overall, this six weeks has seen a raise in all my grades except AP Psychology. Given that I remembered to consistently study and practice information in AP Euro and Economics, my grades saw a slight increase from the past six weeks. I did do significantly better on tests in both classes, undoubtedly due to my new study habits that made me feel more confident and helped to easily remember information during tests. Whereas before I’d been pulling my hair out trying to recall what had been taught in class or read from the textbook, I was able to easily access vital information from my memory after studying. I typically rely on a lot of automatic processing as opposed to the conscious effortful processing of information.

This is obviously not productive by any stretch of the imagination considering automatic processing only takes in the “surface level” information and provides little depth regarding the content being covered. Multiple brief periods of study as opposed to a last minute cram session helped to formulate concrete factual, or explicit memories in the hippocampus (found in the limbic system) instead of having all the information circling around in my short term memory.

Memory is put into perspective when realizing that not everyone has the ability to recall certain, or possibly all past occurrences, as is the case in people known as amnesics. Although amnesics may not be able to remember an event, they are still capable of learning how to do new things, whether that be solve a jigsaw puzzle, play a unique game, etc. The brain is unique in its ability to adapt and prosper given altered circumstances. So no matter how bad my memory may be, I still fully have the ability to learn and retain information, it just requires conscious effort.

A majority of students will see an increase in academic performance if the time is taken to consciously process information into the long-term memory, as opposed to having hasty cram sessions that just leave muddled temporary and easily forgotten information in the short- term memory.

An increased insight into the human memory process is the only way to truly harness the full capabilities of this system. Through studying and eventually adopting a program that best suites specific individual needs, it’s possible to perform better academically by making your memory persist as I was able to do through my utilization of various memory concepts.

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