I’m going to discuss how the use of mental images, concepts and schemas can organise our thinking and help improve our memory. Psychologists have identified three ways of thinking; semantic thought is thinking based on words and meaning. Iconic thought is thinking based on the use of mental images and enactive thought is thinking based on impressions of actions. (Spoors et al, 2011)
A mental image is an image formed in your mind of for example a particular thing such as an apple. As adults we mainly use sematic thought. However, experiments have been carried out that support the suggestion that forming mental images can help us to remember verbal or written information better. The mental image gives us another reminder when we come to recall the information and the effort in forming the image will help fix it in our memory. Using mental images when starting to learn a new language has proved very effective for helping people grasp the new vocabulary. The key word technique involves associating the new word with a similar sounding English word or words; this will give you your keyword. A mental image is then formed linking the unfamiliar word to the keyword. (Spoors et al, 2011)
Michael Raugh and Richard Atkinson carried out experiments, based on the key word technique. The two groups of participants were asked to learn a list of Spanish words, only half were taught to use the keyword technique. When tested later, the participants using the keyword technique scored an average of 88 per cent, compared with only 28 per cent for the participants who didn’t use the keywords. (Raugh and Atkinson, 1975, cited in Spoors et al, 2011)
Another way in which we organise our thoughts is by putting them into categories. The process of developing categories is called concept formation. For example ‘animal’ is a concept that contains other sub-concepts and then further sub-concepts. Animals could be divided into birds, fish, mammals etc. Birds can then be...
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