The Way In Which We Organise Our Thinking By Using Mental Images, Concepts And Schemas Help Us To Improve Our Memory
Memory ... is the diary that we all carry about with us (Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act ii)
If memories are a diary, then the covers and pages of the diary are the brain. However, the brain is far more complex than any book can ever be. The brain is not only where all our memories are stored, the iconic, the semantic and procedural; it also has the ability to form new memories. With every new bit of information we learn, the brain changes as we memorise the information. These changes are known as the brain's plasticity, and it is this plasticity that is vital for learning and memorising information. To improve our memory our brains have learned to organise our thoughts by the use of mental images, forming concepts and developing schemas. I will explore each of these techniques in turn.
Firstly, psychologists have labelled our thought processes as semantic, iconic, and enactive. Forming mental images employs the iconic thought process and according to Spooners et al. (2011) it has been suggested that written or audible information can be remembered better if there is a mental image attached to that information. So, what is a mental image? It is the perception of an object that has not been registered by our senses; we can see it in our mind's eye. This has been found to be very useful in the process of remembering key information because it gives us an additional prompt to recall the information, and the required effort it takes to form a mental image helps firmly fix that key bit of information in the memory. The more vivid, surreal and colourful the images are the more likely our memory will be able to hold on to the images because the more the image stands out the better it is remembered. Our memory tends to hold on to things that stand out from the norm. There are a number of mnemonics that utilise mental images and...
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