Memory: keys to enhance it

Memory: keys to enhance it

We define memory as our ability to store, process and retrieve information that comes from the outside world

This ability is closely related to the topic we discussed earlier, that is, learning. While learning deals with the acquisition of new information, memory deals with its persistence.


  • 1 Encode, store and retrieve
  • 2 types of memory
  • 3 When memory fails us
  • 4 Keys to memorize

Encode, store and retrieve

Coding refers to the process by which information becomes a stored mental representation. The Recovery It is the process by which information can be rescued to consciousness.

There are numerous types and classifications of memory. According to the sensory input by which we receive the information, we distinguish between visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory and tactile memory. According to the modality of the stimulus To memorize, we distinguish between memory for words, memory for faces, memory for forms, and so on.

The skills or disabilities for each of these memories are very different for each of us, also influenced by genetics, childhood learning and cultural heritage.

Types of memory

One of the most classic dichotomies in relation to the types of memory consists in the distinction between short and long term memory.

Short term and long term memory

The short term memory it refers to the immediate evocation of the material presented or its evocation a little later, carried out through an uninterrupted review. Its capacity or amplitude is limited. Examples of this would be when we repeat phrases, phone numbers, sequences of designated blocks, etc. The maximum we could remember on average is between 5 and 9 numbers. If we have to keep this information for a while in our mind, then we use our work memory. For example, when we read a phone number that we have not previously memorized and try to retain it (usually based on constant repetitions). This type of memory is very vulnerable to interference.

Mental calculation is a function of working memory too, this memory operates when it makes no sense to remember the information we have obtained.

The long term memory it is the evocation of information after an interval in which we have focused attention on another task. It has a very limited capacity. It is practically impossible to know what one knows. Information in the short term, if it has a strong emotional load, can be consolidated almost automatically and become long-term memory.

For example, we do not retain long-term conversations we hear every day, but when they tell us something that hurts us or deeply annoys us, we can remember it for a long time.

It may interest you: Types of memory and our way of storing memories

The forgetfulness or loss of irrelevant information is a necessary function to not saturate the system.

Declarative and procedural report

The declarative memory it refers to the acquisition of facts or data directly accessible to consciousness, that is, those that are easily evocable at will: people's faces, their names, their smell, when we remember our holidays, our first love ... and their Once, it is divided into two: the episodic (the information of a specific time and space-for example: what we have eaten today-) and the semantics (general knowledge of the world-for example: what is the capital of France-).

The procedural memory It includes habits, procedures and sequences such as riding a bike, swimming, skiing, dancing, driving ...

When memory fails us

The term amnesia It refers to a cognitive function disorder in which memory is affected in a proportionally much more important way than other components of intellectual behavior or function.

It can be caused by many factors: lesions in brain structures, malnutrition, alcoholism, viral diseases, oxygen deficiency, etc.

Some types of amnesia are: anterograde amnesia (impairment of the ability to acquire new information of any sensory modality), retrograde amnesia (impairment of the ability to evoke well established information and events before the onset of the disease) or the definitive amnesia it refers to the total and irreversible loss to make new learning (it is very rare).

A very different situation from amnesia is the decrease in the ability to learn new things or to evoke information and, again, there are many factors that cause it from stress, insomnia, depression or unmoderated anxiety, aging or use of drugs, for example.

A detail that we overlook many times is the impact of internet use. In my opinion I think it helps us on the one hand (right now many powerful applications are used to boost memory through games, or other types of cognitive stimulations, which are going very well) but on the other hand we barely have a doubt and, do we what do we do? TO Google. It is our warehouse at your fingertips and it is not bad, come on; We would cease to be functional in this society if we do not manage time to the fullest, but there are situations in which it would be very good to challenge our memory and not make it so lazy, that what is not used, you know: is lost.

It may interest you: Psychotechnical and memory tests

Keys to memorize

Without imagination there is no memorization

Imagination is something we all have and use, although we do not always use it in those things that bring us the most benefit. The imagination in the field of memory it's key. For example:

With which of these two methods do you find it easier to remember the name of someone named Felipe after meeting him?

  • As soon as you have presented it, you repeat in Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-Felipe-…. So until they introduce you to the next person and do the same thing again.
  • When introducing yourself to Felipe, the suffix “lotas” comes to your mind and before you finish shaking hands, you have already composed his name in your mind “Felipe-lotas”, you have imagined him collecting soccer balls in a stadium he alone (for example 🙂) and having to run from one end to the other to pick up a ball that has just gone behind one of the goals. He is tired, out of breath, sweating and wishing the game is over.

We remember the things that have caused a certain impression on us. As we see in the example of Felipe-lotas, humor plays an important role in all this.

Link (or association)

It consists of associating the concept you want to remember with something that will remind you of that concept in the future.

What do you find easier to remember, the name of the chemical element "Ammonium" (word you hear for the first time) or the effect of a "ammonia" boat on your skin, the smell, the pain it causes? If you have to memorize the word "Ammonium" for a Chemistry test, for example, imagine yourself without gloves taking a bored ammonia boat, so that your hand is soaked in the harmful liquid. You get dizzy from the strong smell caused by the contact of the liquid with the skin and it hurts a lot.

You involve your senses (sight, smell, touch) so you find it infinitely more difficult to remember a concept that you don't have past references (it was the first time you heard the word “Ammonium”) or it doesn't impact you because it's not funny , it is not funny, exaggerated or sensual; than the object with which you have linked it (associated), something that does have those properties that cause sensations in you. In the example above, pain, strong smell and skin wounds.


The concepts to remember are going to be associated with objects using the following:

  • Images:
    • live
    • in color
    • moving
    • in three dimensions
    • exaggeratedly large, small, numerous, few
    • getting wet
    • ablaze
    • at full speed
    • At a snail's pace
    • crashing
    • positive (so the effect of ammonia will only be recommended if you are a masochist)
    • jumping
    • slipping
    • To stumble
    • stretched
    • shrunk
    • wrinkled
    • bright
    • follow you
  • The 5 senses (smell, hearing, taste, touch and sight)
  • Humor
  • Position:
    • over
    • below
    • next to
    • behind
    • in front of
    • inside
    • outside
  • Speed
  • Shape
  • Stiffness
  • Absurd
  • Disproportion
  • Expansion
  • Contraction
  • Rhythm
  • Sex


  • Duran, J. (1996). The polyhedral brain. Barcelona: Jokes.
  • The memory (2007). In Encyclopedia of Psychology (Vol. 3, 11-45pp). Spain: Ocean.
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