There are several ways in which we can improve our memory. I will first discuss how mental images can help us improve our recognition secondly I will focus on concepts and finally schemas. I will be focusing on each one and how organization can improve our recall.
To help us in recollecting a certain word we can visualize a vivid and outlandish mental image in our head to assist us in remembering the word.
In ???Starting with psychology??™ (2007), Michael Raugh and Richard Atkinson (1975) developed the keyword technique to help us recall words through a mental image, for example the French word ???poubelle??™ translated is the English word for ??™bin??™, to remember the word, spoors et al (2007) gave the example of a person holding their nose indicating a bad smell ???pooh??™, taking the lid off a bin shaped as a ???bell??™, (poohbell). The keyword technique can contribute to learning a new language a lot more effectively.
The keyword technique was also illustrated in an experiment by Michael Raugh and Richard Atkinson (1975) when a number of participants were given 60 Spanish words to learn.
50% of these were given the keyword technique to memorize the word, whereas the other 50% were not.
The experiment resulted in the participants who were given the keyword technique got 88% of the words correct and the others only got 28% correct.
Again this experiment shows that the visual prompts can assist us in recalling information a lot more precisely.
Moving onto concepts, this is a process where our mind organises our thoughts into categories.
As adults we use concepts every day, so much that it becomes instinctive??¦for example our concept of a table is a piece of furniture which has four legs, a flat top, made of wood etc., however a stool has similar properties, yet in our mind we can rationalise that these two items have completely different uses, as we know not to eat off a stool or sit on a table. If the definition is vague it becomes a ???fuzzy concept??™, therefore we put things into categories which will help us improve our memory.
In ???Starting with psychology??™ (2007) there were a number of random words written down that we were asked to cover up and remember, upon doing this exercise there were only a few words that I could recollect, however once a prompt was added this made it easier as I could put each item under a different category and recalled the words far more effectively.
This task was a streamline version of an experiment done by Weston Bousfield (1953), where a number of people were asked to memorize 60 words and put them into four different groups, yet again the people remembered the words more effectively once given a cue, assisting them to put these words into categories. For example if they remembered the word apple this would provoke them to recall the other pieces of fruit in that category.
George Mandler ( 1967) also did an experiment where he asked two groups of people to sort out one hundred cards into groups, each card having a word on it, however only half of the group were told to memorise the word.
The results showed that each group memorised the words equally as well as each other, proving that putting things into categories is enough to improve our recall.
Finally moving onto schemas, this is where we have a mental framework in which we organise and simplify our understanding of the world around us.
Our minds are like filing cabinets and in each file contains all the information regarding a certain situation??¦for example if you were going to the cinema, in this file (schema) would be all the particulars concerning the cinema, the tickets, the movie, the usher etc.
These files are called schemas which give us a structure to aid us in recalling information a lot more effectively.
We use schemas every day in order to recall information, and the reason schemas are there is to enable us to interpret this information a lot more accurately.
Some people for example could have a hatred for dentists as there schema about this situation is a person who inflicts pain on them and their whole experience is nothing but fearful, however other people might file this information away and their schema makes them feel good about going to the dentist as they experience no pain and feel as if their teeth are being well looked after.
Schemas can prove to be very useful when you want some clarity on a situation as they will help us organise all our information in our mind.
Jean Piaget a psychologist who died in 1980 did research on a number of children on the way they thought, and his experiment showed that these children recalled all their information from society, putting all their worldly experience into schemas.
John Bransford and Marcia Johnson (1972) also did an experiment in which a paragraph was written with no title. This paragraph made no sense whatsoever, however once a title was added it made perfect sense. The paragraph was simply about washing clothes, and yet unless the title was there a simple everyday task was difficult to understand, however once the heading was visible it provided a schema and it made perfect sense.
In conclusion, mental images, concepts and schemas are all there to improve our recall, whether it???s using outlandish vivid images, putting things into categories or simply store past experiences into files, all these ways improve our memory as they all give us a prompt to assist us in improving our recall and organise our thinking.