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The other day I met this guy named Carl. Now, I might forget that name, but he was wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt. What’s a band like the Grateful Dead? Phish. Where do fish live? The ocean. What else lives in the ocean? Coral. Hello, Co-arl. (Wrubel&Spiller, 2010)

It seems the more vivid or unusual the mnemonic, the easier it is to remember. The key to using any mnemonic successfully is to find a strategy that works for you.

Some other strategies that are used to improve memory include expressive writing and saying words aloud. Expressive writing helps boost your short-term memory, particularly if you write about a traumatic experience in your life. Masao Yogo and Shuji Fujihara (2008) had participants write for 20-minute intervals several times per month. The participants were instructed to write about a traumatic experience, their best possible future selves, or a trivial topic. The researchers found that this simple writing task increased short-term memory capacity after five weeks, but only for the participants who wrote about traumatic experiences. Psychologists can’t explain why this writing task works, but it does.

What if you want to remember items you need to pick up at the store? Simply say them out loud to yourself. A series of studies (MacLeod, Gopie, Hourihan, Neary,&Ozubko, 2010) found that saying a word out loud improves your memory for the word because it increases the word’s distinctiveness. Feel silly, saying random grocery items aloud? This technique works equally well if you just mouth the words. Using these techniques increased participants’ memory for the words by more than 10%. These techniques can also be used to help you study.

How to study effectively

Based on the information presented in this chapter, here are some strategies and suggestions to help you hone your study techniques ( [link] ). The key with any of these strategies is to figure out what works best for you.

A photograph shows students studying.
Memory techniques can be useful when studying for class. (credit: Barry Pousman)
  • Use elaborative rehearsal : In a famous article, Craik and Lockhart (1972) discussed their belief that information we process more deeply goes into long-term memory. Their theory is called levels of processing    . If we want to remember a piece of information, we should think about it more deeply and link it to other information and memories to make it more meaningful. For example, if we are trying to remember that the hippocampus is involved with memory processing, we might envision a hippopotamus with excellent memory and then we could better remember the hippocampus.
  • Apply the self-reference effect : As you go through the process of elaborative rehearsal, it would be even more beneficial to make the material you are trying to memorize personally meaningful to you. In other words, make use of the self-reference effect. Write notes in your own words. Write definitions from the text, and then rewrite them in your own words. Relate the material to something you have already learned for another class, or think how you can apply the concepts to your own life. When you do this, you are building a web of retrieval cues that will help you access the material when you want to remember it.
  • Don’t forget the forgetting curve : As you know, the information you learn drops off rapidly with time. Even if you think you know the material, study it again right before test time to increase the likelihood the information will remain in your memory. Overlearning can help prevent storage decay.
  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse : Review the material over time, in spaced and organized study sessions. Organize and study your notes, and take practice quizzes/exams. Link the new information to other information you already know well.
  • Be aware of interference : To reduce the likelihood of interference, study during a quiet time without interruptions or distractions (like television or music).
  • Keep moving : Of course you already know that exercise is good for your body, but did you also know it’s also good for your mind? Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise (anything that gets your heart rate elevated) is beneficial for memory (van Praag, 2008). Aerobic exercise promotes neurogenesis: the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain known to play a role in memory and learning.
  • Get enough sleep : While you are sleeping, your brain is still at work. During sleep the brain organizes and consolidates information to be stored in long-term memory (Abel&Bäuml, 2013).
  • Make use of mnemonic devices : As you learned earlier in this chapter, mnemonic devices often help us to remember and recall information. There are different types of mnemonic devices, such as the acronym. An acronym is a word formed by the first letter of each of the words you want to remember. For example, even if you live near one, you might have difficulty recalling the names of all five Great Lakes. What if I told you to think of the word Homes? HOMES is an acronym that represents Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior: the five Great Lakes. Another type of mnemonic device is an acrostic: you make a phrase of all the first letters of the words. For example, if you are taking a math test and you are having difficulty remembering the order of operations , recalling the following sentence will help you: “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally,” because the order of mathematical operations is Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction. There also are jingles, which are rhyming tunes that contain key words related to the concept, such as i before e, except after c .


There are many ways to combat the inevitable failures of our memory system. Some common strategies that can be used in everyday situations include mnemonic devices, rehearsal, self-referencing, and adequate sleep. These same strategies also can help you to study more effectively.

Personal application questions

Create a mnemonic device to help you remember a term or concept from this chapter.

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What is an effective study technique that you have used? How is it similar to/different from the strategies suggested in this chapter?

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Questions & Answers

hello anyone interested in making a group to put together there own concepts, or perceptions of behavior in different political groups?
Josh Reply
count me in josh
sounds good..
What is environmental psychology
rohini Reply
Environmental psychology focuses on the interplay between an individual and it's surroundings.
what is criminal psychology
Wasana Reply
Criminal psychology, also referred to as criminological psychology, is the study of the wills, thoughts, intentions, and reactions of criminals and all that partakes in the criminal behavior. It is related to the field of criminal anthropology
My Master degree is in Forensic Psychology. It is a science that is half psychology and half criminal justice
what is environmental psychology?
Doper Reply
if Someone can recommend any Practicing Psychologist Regards
Sajjad Reply
How do you communicated with someone who has a Narcissistic personality, and a womanizer? How do you get them to value your feelings and thoughts
Mrs. Reply
having a narcissistic-person as a partner in life can destroy your relationship especially if they're abusing you mentally.
what does it mean if you keep losing your things?
Mahmoud Reply
hello everyone
In what ways do the norms of your different cultures lead you to behave differently in your interactions with each other?
Aliza Reply
Which of the following is not a disadvantage of P.E.T. scanning
Kody Reply
sup I'm 14 and tired of this school *** so I'm doing private studies in my spare time
William Reply
Are you smarter than your teachers? I was. So, I found better ones. Like you are, William.
You don't have to be smarter than your teachers, at the end they teach what they been told, education system must change and give you the chance to learn things of your interest.
William James, principles of psychology, 1890
Cristina Reply
is there any phyical harm or internal harm to the brains
Megharaj Reply
it depends since an accient or trauma can cause amnesia, etc...
I should choose psychology major because....?
Alexsus Reply
psychology is the study of human behavior and I do think we should talk more on what interests each of us
psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processing and how they are affected by an organism's physical state,mental state and environment
or psychology is a science because it follows the scientific process in studying behaviiur and mental processing .behaviour include overt and covert ones ,mental processing include thought,emotion,perception ,reasoning processes ,memories and biological activities .
the air of psychology is (1) describe (2)explain (3)predict and (4) help improve lives
any this ler me know
also know very well that .psychology has so many sub field .which deal with different cases . thank u
hello all I am EDI GODWIN by name a student of psychology in Nigeria I was given assignment don't know if I can get help from you guys thanks
Edi Reply
how controller behavioural central psychological?
Abdulaziz Reply

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