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Making the Most of Your Memory

Another vital piece of luggage necessary for your trip through adult learning is memory.

The brain stores information. Memory recalls stored information.

Our brains consist of millions and millions of cells, some of which we may lose through age or illness. Nevertheless, our brains continue to be vast reservoirs of information.

Our memory is aided by our ability to connect certain bits and pieces of information stored in our brain. These connections and experiences aid in our recall of information. Our recall mechanism, memory, is affected by age and experience. However, the ability to recall information is not lost due to age. It simply slows down a bit.

Memory and forgetting go hand in hand, just like peanut butter and jelly. Our short-term memory stores information for short periods of time. We normally lose about 80 percent of this stored information. In other words, it never makes it to our long-term memory bank, and thus long-term recall becomes extremely difficult.

There are certain steps we can take to limit this loss of short-term, as well as long-term, memory. To aid in retention of information in the short-term memory bank, you must immediately review the information. The same day that the information is stored, it is important for you to review your notes or reading. Delay can result in a loss of information.

To aid in memory, you also should pace yourself. Limit your reading or study to short periods of time -- about 15 minutes. Short spurts have a more lasting effect than prolonged periods of study. Pacing yourself permits your brain to store smaller bits of information, which improves memory and retention.

Periodically, you need to review the information. It is important to keep it fresh so that long-term recall is easier. It is not enough to review information one time. It must be continually processed and reprocessed.

Memory can be aided by playing games with yourself. Rhymes, mnemonics, diagrams and pictures all aid in retention. Very often, you can remember pictures and jingles more easily than words and facts.

Your memory also is served well by using as many of your senses as possible. If you can hear it, see it, smell it or touch it, you're more likely to remember it. One-dimensional learning acts as a hindrance to memory.