Strategies to Improve your Memory


Until recently, memory has been compared to a computer storage device. Now the brain is looked at as an information-processing system that takes information and processes through three discrete stages: encoding, storage, and retrieval. Atkinson and Shiffrin suggest that information goes through two stages: short-term memory, and long-term memory. Today, researchers have further defined this paradigm with findings from cognitive neuroscience. This presents memory as a collection of systems working interdependently. There is no one portion of the brain solely responsible for all memory, although there are certain regions related to specific memory subsystems. So, if you want to improve not just your memory, but your mind I have put together some very simple ways to upgrade your firmware to accommodate the new software.

Do things different

Like any muscle, the brain works in the same way. The more you exercise it the stronger it will get. Sensory and novelty stimulation form the foundations for brain exercise. Changing a routine in a way that is challenging means new brain pathways not previously used are put in use. For example, brushing your shoes with the non-dominant hand activates the less utilized connections on the brains non-dominant side. Or getting dressed. Try to put your pants on in reverse order. For example, if you are a southpaw you may put your left leg in your pants first then right. Try switching it up to grow new pathways.

Aerobicize your Brain

By Aerobicizing your brain, you will increase your mental agility. If you like board games, consider Risk. If you are into PC/Console gaming, choose a game that will force you to think out strategies to accomplish a task. Similarly, you can learn a new subject. If you are musically challenged like I am, try learning an instrument. Lastly, if you have trouble balancing your checkbook you may want to try learning differential calculus.

Avoid Distractions

In addition to exercising your brain, there are some basic things you can do to enhance your ability to retain and retrieve information. First, pay attention. Remember that multitasking just means that you are doing several things distracted. While I am writing this article, I am also in a meeting. I ask myself, am I really understanding and retaining what is being discussed. The answer is no! To put a point on this concept, you can only encode something into your brain if you pay close attention to it. The processing of a piece of information via the hippocampus and then into the relevant memory center requires eight seconds and therefore you should avoid multitasking if concentration is to be achieved.  One way I learn is to take notes then review them. You may find it better to record ideas with video or audio. Point being is to find some way that works for you.

Stop Memorizing

Another way to exercise your brain and increase retention is by understanding and interpreting materials that are complex. This requires understanding basic ideas instead of memorizing. When I want to learn a new concept, procedure or skill I first look at the why. Ask yourself why you want to learn this. If you are just doing it because you are doing it, then you are not truly motivated to learn the concept, procedure or skill. For this exercise to succeed there needs to be some value added to you.

Remember that you are the architect of your mind. If you want to change, there is nothing to stop you from rewriting your software. Don't be fooled by the promise of quick fixes or some miracle pill being touted by an infomercial. Rather think about this as a life change. A life change that you choose, not one that is forced upon you.


Gary Vienna originally hails from Berthoud Colorado. He has had the honor and distinction in serving this great country as a United States Marine.  After twenty years serving his country, he retired and began a new chapter in life. Gary went forward with his skills in management and Information Security/Technology to serve the Christian Church. Through this experience he has gained experience in several disciplines. At present Gary continues to server a large part of Southern California by delivering clean and reliable energy.

Gary has been married for nineteen years and is still very much in love with his bride. Through this union there are two children the bear the name Vienna. Gary is very proud of these children and is proud to call them son and daughter.  Gary has traveled extensively to Europe, India/Asia and the Middle East. Through this travel Gary has meet people from all walks of life. These experiences helped Gary to grow enormously both professionally and personally. Gary holds a Master's in Information Systems/ Security. He has published several articles and loves to teach.