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The science and psychology of memory

Dr. Gabrielle Weidemann, a behavioural neuroscientist from the University of Western Sydney, says the key to improving your memory is to understand a few key ideas on how to retain information.

A basic principle is that by ”elaborating” memories, students can remember more information.

”Start with the things you know and add new bits of information into the bits you already know about,” she says.

”That will help you in elaborating the memory and making connections between the bits of information.”

Active study methods such as rewriting information in your own words, quizzing yourself or trying to teach somebody else are also helpful, as is ”spaced repetition”; that is, leaving intervals between study sessions.

Where and how you study is important, too: pay close attention to the task at hand and eliminate distractions such as television or social media.

The best methods not only encourage students to input information, but also to recall it, Weidemann says.

”The act of retrieving information helps to encode that memory better,” she says.

Another tip? Take a break after you read.

…wakeful resting after new learning allows new memory traces to be consolidated better and hence to be retained for much longer.

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