How Can the Use of Mental Images, Concepts and Schemas to Organise Our Thinking Help Us to Improve Our Memory

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How can the use of mental images, concepts and schemas to organise our thinking help us to improve our memory?

This essay will explore the way we use mental images, concepts and schemas to organise our thinking and how by using these methods we can actually improve our memory. The human brain is a highly complex organ however due to its plasticity, the brain has the ability to learn or memorise new facts or skills.

Firstly, mental images are a way of organising information that we take into our brains. This works best if the images are colourful, bold and eccentric as we tend to remember unique items instead of normal, everyday items.

Mental images are thought to be useful when learning a new language, assisting people to grasp basic vocabulary. The French word ‘poubelle’ can be translated into English as ‘bin’. In order to remember this, a mental image is formed where the person could imagine themselves holding their nose whilst lifting the lid off a bell shaped bin. This is known as the Key Word Technique.

This key word technique was developed by Michael Raugh and Richard Atkinson (1975) who experimented on two groups of participants. They were asked to learn 60 Spanish words but only half of them were taught the key word technique. When all the participants were tested, the group that used the key word technique scored an average of 88% while the group that did not use the key words scored 28%. This provides evidence that mental images can help improve our memory.

We can develop different memory strategies for improving our memory. An example of this is mnemonics where you use visualisation often vivid mental images or a rhyme or verse to remember facts eg. ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ to remember that the rainbow is made up of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.

In Ancient Greece (500BC) the poet Simonides used this technique to link items needed to be recalled to a sequence of locations that they...
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