How Can Memory Be Improved by the Use of Mental Images, Concepts and Schemas (Which Help to Organise Thinking)?

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  • Topic: Idea, Memory, Concepts
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There are many ways in which we can improve our memory and organise our thinking. For

this essay I will be looking at Mental Images, Concepts and Schemas and how these help

improve our memory and help organise our thinking.

Firstly I would like to look at Mental Images. Mental Imagery is the ability to visualize

images in our minds after the original stimuli is out of view. Mental Images are also a way

of organising thinking by making bold and iconic pictures in your head which describe the

word or event you are trying to remember. For example in the course book ' Spoors et al

(2007)' give an example picture of a bell being used as a bin which has a very unpleasant

smell coming from it, therefore making us remember the French word 'poubelle' which

translates to 'bin' in English. This method can be helpful when trying to learn a new

language. In the course book it is brought to our attention that Michael Raugh and Richard

Atkinson (1975) developed the key word technique through the form of an experiment.

They took two groups of participants and asked each group to learn a list of 60 Spanish

words. However only one group were taught the 'Key Word Technique'. When the

participants were tested later, the group that were using the 'Key Word Technique' scored

an average of 88%, compared with only 28% for the group that were not taught the

technique. Another technique is the 'Mnemonics' this is a strategy for improving memory.

An example of a mnemonic is to use a rhyme to remember something. For example if I

wanted to remember the word 'RAINBOW' I could use this Mnemonic 'Richard Of York

Gave Battle In Vain', this will help aid me in remembering that rainbow is made out of Red,

Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. This method was developed by the poet

Simondies who lived in Ancient Greece in the year 500BC. This technique works by the

learner linking mental images of items they are trying to remember with a sequence of C58199712

locations which they already know.

I would now like to take a look at Concepts and their uses to help improve memory.

Concepts is away of organising our thoughts and putting them into categories. However

each concept can then be divided into sub-concepts then further sub-concepts. The

course book 'Spoors et al (2007)' use the following example ' We could divide animals into

birds, fish, mammals ect. We could then divide birds into robins, sparrows, owls, ect.'

However this can be confusing at times, especially for children. Children may have 'a

concept for a dog as an animal with hair, four legs and a tail, but then they may also apply

this label to a cat or a sheep or even a horse'- 'Spoors et all (2007)'.We can use concepts

to help improve out memory but putting items into categories, such as a shopping list. For

example dividing the list into categories such as fruit, vegetables, household items ect.

This method has been proven to help improve our memory, In an experiment by Weston

Bousfield (1953), in which he asked the participants to learn a list of 60 words that could

be divided into four categories. Even though the words were presented to them in a

completely random order, the participants tended to remember the words in the groups

which belonged to the same categories, so for example if the word Banana was present the

they would remember apple, grape and melon because they came under the same


Finally I would like to take a look at schemas. Schema is a word used to describe a mental

framework in which we would file all our knowledge about certain items, situations, people

and even about yourself. For example 'doctor' is a profession, so thinking about the word

'doctor' can open up new words, images and possibly feelings that link in with that, like

nurse, blood, waiting...
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