How can the way in which we organise our thinking by using mental images, concepts and schemas help us improve our memory
Mental images, concepts and schemas are very useful ways of helping us improve our memory. In the following essay i am going to explain how they can help us.
First of all there are mental images. This is when a picture or idea is formed in the mind to help us remember verbal or written information better. For this to work successfully it tends to be better to remember distinctive items that are large, colourful and bizarre because we tend to remember these better than everyday items. An example of this can be the French word ???poubelle??™ (pronounced pooh-bell) which translates as bin in English. By forming an image of a smelly bin it will be easier to remember that bin in French is poubelle.
Michael Raugh and Richard Atkinson (1975) developed this key word technique and carried out an experiment on two groups of participants. The participants were asked to learn 60 spanish words but only half of them were told to use the key word technique. When they were tested later the participants who used the key word technique scored on average 88% compared to only 28% for the participants who did not use the key words. As you can see from the results it shows just how useful mental images can be in helping us improve our memory.
Another way in which we can organise our thinking by using mental images is by using a technique called mnemonics. This is a technique for improving the memory. Once such mnemonic was created by the poet simonidies in ancient Greece 500bc called the ???method of loci??™. This involved remembering mental images with a familiar place to you. It is a technique that works best if the images are outstanding and silly rather than sensible. An example of this would be when remembering a shopping list we can imagine the television to be a box of cereal and the couch to be a loaf of bread. Using this method to remember the shopping is an incredibly useful aid to our memory.
Now i am going to explain about concepts. A concept is when we organise our thoughts by putting them into categories. By thinking of animals as a concept we can divide them into sub concepts like birds, fish, mammals, etc. We can then think of a fish as a cod, haddock or trout which are further sub concepts.This process of developing categories is called concept formation which is when we make a mental representation of a group of object or events that share similar properties. Using concepts helps us improve our recall because it gives us a cue to remember other details.
In an experiment carried out by Weston Bousefield (1953) he asked participants to learn a list of sixty words that could be divided into four categories. Although these words were presented in a random order the participants tended to remember them in groups that belonged to the same category. So if they remembered the word apple, then they would be more likely to remember others like strawberry and lemon. From this experiment it was also shown that although participants think they have recalled all of the words they remember, they can actually access more words once they have been given category headings as cues. Like fruit or flowers.
Finally I will look at schemas. A schema is a mental framework in which we file all our knowledge. It would include the whole package of your thinking when you think about something. An example of a schema would be when you are going on holiday. Your schema on this would include everything associated with going on holiday. From going to the beach or packing your suitcase. To relaxing by the pool or getting a suntan. It is similar to comparing your memory to a filing cabinet and each file in the cabinet is a schema. All this information can help us deal with new situations by applying previous experiences to help us act appropriately. schemas can help us recall information as they provide an organising framework so that the information is stored appropriately and they can provide cues to prompt our memory.
John bransford and Marcia Johnson (1972) carried out a number of experiments which illustrated the role of schemas in our understanding and recall of information. In one of these experiments half o f the participants were given a passage with the title ???washing clothes??™ while the other half had no title to the passage. It was shown that the participants who did not have the title of the passage had great difficulty in understanding what the passage meant let alone trying to recall the details. The title of the passage provided a schema that can be stored appropriately and recalled easier.
In conclusion we can see that mental images help us remember details more clearly and can be a more enjoyable way than simple reading words to help with our recall. Concepts on the other hand can help us put information into groups which helps us recall and remember while schemas help us out in everyday life by giving us the information we need to do a various range of tasks during our lives based on past experience.