Strategies to Improve Memory & Learning

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  • An animal study shows that following learning with a novel experience makes the learning stronger.
  • A human study shows that giving information positive associations improves your memory for future experiences with similar information.

We know that the

  • A small study has found that a night's sleep helps you better remember new names.

Sleep, as I have said on many occasions, helps your brain consolidate new memories. I have reported before on a number of studies showing how sleep helps the learning of various types of new information.

  • Mindfulness meditation is associated in many studies with cognitive benefits, especially in attention.
  • In a new study, a brief guided meditation exercise increased students' false recognition of words as ones they had seen earlier.
  • It may be that the non-judgmental mindset encouraged by mindfulness meditation reduces people's ability to clearly remember the source of a memory, thus making them more susceptible to false memories.
  • Source memory also tends to be negatively affected by increasing age.

Mindfulness meditation is associated with various positive benefits, one of which is improved attention, but it might not be all good. A new study suggests that it may have negative cognitive consequences.

  • Foreign words are learned better when gestures or pictures are used.
  • Imitating symbolic gestures is more beneficial than viewing illustrative pictures.
  • These benefits correlate with activity in specific brain regions.
  • The benefits are only found in translation tasks, not in free recall.

A small study using an artificial language adds to evidence that new vocabulary is learned more easily when the learner uses gestures.

  • Implementation plans are a strategy for helping you remember your intended future actions.
  • College students with low WMC performed a prospective memory task at the same level as those with a higher WMC, but only when they used a simple implementation plan.

I've written at length about implementation plans in my book “Planning to Remember: How to Remember What You're Doing and What You Plan to Do”.

This is just a preliminary study presented at a recent conference, so we can't give it too much weight, but the finding is consistent with what we know about

A review of meditation research reported in January last year concluded that there were insufficient good studies to allow us to say that meditation clearly improves attention and cognition.

In 2013 I reported how a 3-second interruption while doing a task doubled the rate of sequence errors, while a 4s one tripled it. A new study has attempted to measure just how much ongoing interruptions can negatively affect the quality of a complex creative task.

A study involving 124 teenagers has found that those who were most accurate at tapping along with a metronome also showed the most consistent brain responses to a synthesized speech sound "da".

Three classroom experiments have found that students who meditated before a psychology lecture scored better on a quiz that followed than students who did not meditate. Mood, relaxation, and class interest were not affected by the meditation training.

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