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Playing Games to Help with Memory

Another technique for improving memory is the use of various visuals and "gimmicks." A mnemonic is a device or aid that can help your memory.

Way back in elementary school, you probably learned the expression, "i before e except after c." Committing this slogan (mnemonic) to memory enabled you to correctly spell a large number of words, such as perceive, receive, conceive, receipt, etc. The connection is already in your memory and, consequently, it is easy for you to remember how to spell a particular group of words.

You also may have learned the rhyme, "Thirty days has September, April, June and November." This rhyme serves as an aid to remember the months with 30 days. Another use of mnemonics occurs with music. "FACE" spells the name of the notes that occur on the spaces of the G, or treble, clef (F, A, C and E). By remembering FACE, you are able to remember and locate the notes.

Creating your own mnemonic aids is easy. For example, let's have a brief lesson on the payment of corporate dividends. When a corporation declares a dividend to be paid to its stockholders, there is a certain time sequence of events.

There is a declaration date (the date on which the dividend is declared). There is an ex-dividend date (the date on which the stock will trade without the dividend). The ex-dividend date is four working days prior to the record date. The record date is the date on which all shareholders who own the stock must appear on the corporate records. Lastly, the payment date is the date on which the dividend will be paid to all shareholders of record.

If you had to somehow memorize this sequence of events, you might form a visual or mnemonic with the initial letters, DERP. "DERP" is an easy word to remember. The process of paying the dividend starts with D, the declaration date, and ends with P, the payment date. In between these dates are the ex-dividend and record dates. How many letters are in the word DERP? Four letters correspond to the four working days between the ex-dividend and record dates.

Thus, a simple four-letter word can provide you with the ability to recall several bits of information, because the mnemonic establishes a foundation, or connection, for the other bits of information.

There are various learning experiences where such "mental gimmicks" have served you well. As you continue your lifelong learning, do not hesitate to create your own games to aid in memory and retention.