If association and location are the engine and map of memory respectively, then imagination is the fuel of memory. Imagination is not just the faculty for forming mental images, it is the full creative power of the mind. It is not just the preserve of artists, musicians or poets but a resource that we all have readily available.

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Imagination is associated with Theta brainwave activity which is normally at its most active when we are dreaming. However, young children, particularly babies, produce a constant supply of this frequency during waking hours, which may explain why their imaginations often run rampant. The lines between the real and the imagined are blurred, as a teddy bear becomes a living companion and a plastic toy develops magical powers.

As we take on the responsibilities and expectations of adulthood, imagination that was once allowed free range is curbed. I believe there is a direct correlation between the amount of stimulation a person is given as a child and the degree of resistance they show to new ideas in adulthood.

imagination as a memory improvement tool

Now, try the following exercise to help you limber up and stretch the boundaries of your imagination.

Exercise: Stretching Your Imagination

We are often required to remember information that is, by its nature, inherently uninteresting or unremarkable, such as a list of chores for the day. However, if we use our imagination to embellish an image of the particular item we wish to remember, then we can make it exciting and thus memorable.

Imagine that you need to remember to post an important letter. First, picture a realistic image of an envelope. Then transform this image to make it more memorable. Picture yourself staggering along the road carrying a gigantic envelope. The envelope is decorated with bright blue stars. Now let’s add a couple more oddities. Imagine that it smells of chocolate and is ticking like a clock. Now you have created a vivid visual image, and you have added the dimensions of smell and sound. Appealing to two more senses, on top of the visual, makes the item even more memorable in your mind.