Make the Connection

Do you have a hard time remembering names? You’re not alone. It was once thought the brain stored memories in something similar to a computerized network. When you wanted to recall something, your brain would access the correct file and find the memory you sought. Now it’s recognized that memory is really  more complex and fluid than that. Visual memories get stored in the visual cortex in the back of the brain; whereas, sounds (including language), smells and other data are stored elsewhere in the brain.

Why is this important? Because when you conjure up an image of a teapot in your mind, you call from memory separate packets for its shape, color size, hardness, hotness, etc. You may even recall a tea party you attended as a child or that decaffeinated tea is on sale at the grocery store.What this tells us is that when you want to remember something, like someone’s name, the more associations you can make for that memory the easier it will be to recall it. One way to do this is to connect the new memory or information to something you already know.

For example, if you meet a new person named Florence, you can associate her name with similar memories to make a stronger connection, such as Florence Nightingale, Florence Henderson or even the place, Florence, Italy. By using the “connection technique” you are forced to pay better attention to the incoming information, making it more meaningful to you. These critical steps will definitely boost your memory for any information you want to keep in mind, be it a phone number or a name. Try the connection technique and see how this habit can rev up your recall. (Sweeney & Greene, 2013, 176-177)

This article was adapted from:                                                 Sweeney, M. S., & Green, C. R. (2013). Complete guide to brain health: How to stay sharp, improve memory and boost creativity. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society.