Latest Revision and Maximizing Recall Techniques
So far in posts we have looked at various mnemonic techniques for memorizing a range of information including PINs, short shopping lists, directions, foreign vocabulary, quotations and short speeches. Most of these techniques involve the three keys of association, location and imagination. In particular, using the Journey Method, based on familiar locations, appears to bridge the gap between short- and long-term retention. It’s as though the data bypasses short-term memory, allowing more information to go straight into the long-term memory bank. These memory techniques remove the drudgery of traditional methods of rote learning, which in comparison can be slow, repetitive and less efficient. But to ensure that information remains in your long-term memory, it’s essential to know when and how often to review it.
EBBINGHAUS AND THE RECALL CURVE
One of the first people to carry out experiments on human memory was the German philosopher Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850–1909). He devised a way of testing memory using a series of nonsense syllables – seemingly meaningless, unmemorable syllables, for example: DAJ. He would read through a list of 20 such items several times until he was able to memorize the exact sequence. He then measured his retention of the list after varying time periods. This was probably the first ever formal learning curve. Ebbinghaus observed that, for a series of information, data near the beginning and end of the list was easier to recall than that in the middle. These tendencies are known as the Primacy and Recency effects respectively, and a U-shaped curve graphically illustrated the findings. Ebbinghaus also discovered that the best way to maintain maximum recall was to review data regularly until what he called “overlearning” had been achieved.
To consolidate your memory of stored data you need to know when to review it. Here is my suggested schedule of review times, which I find works extremely well for most types of material.
24 HOURS LATER
ONE WEEK LATER
ONE MONTH LATER
THREE MONTHS LATER
You can follow this “rule of five” with some of the exercises provided on braindirector. The exercise itself will provide the first review stage. You can then return to it after the suggested time periods and re-test yourself to ensure that the data remains in your long-term memory.
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