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Enhancing Memory

 

Explanations > Memory > Enhancing Memory

Description | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

When you are storing memories there are a number of factors that increase the likelihood of later recall of the memories.

Depth

The depth of a memory trace depends on the extent of meaning that you extracted from it. If something is particularly meaningful then it is more significant to you and you are more likely to be able to bring it back to mind.

Elaboration

Depth is extended by the amount of processing performed on an item. If you think harder about it before you commit it to long-term memory, then you will be able to recall it more easily.

Distinctiveness

A memory that is different or unique in some way from other memories is also easier to recall.

Discussion

Craik and Lockhart (1972) identified the notion of depth. Craik and Tulving (1975) showed how elaboration with experiments such as getting subjects to fit words into blanks in complex sentences.

Eysenck (1979) added the notion of distinctiveness. Memories that are similar can overlap, making it necessary to distinguish them by finer criteria. If the whole thing is different then it needs a different memory trace through the brain.

So what?

To help yourself or others remember something more easily:

  • Talk a lot about what the thing means.
  • Get the person to think a lot about the thing.
  • Make the thing different from other things.

See also

Craik, F.I.M. and Lockhart, R.S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for memory research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 11, 671-684

Craik, F.I.M. and Tulving, E. (1975). Depth of processing and the retention of words in episodic memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104, 268-294

Eysenck, M.W. (1979). Depth, elaboration and distinctiveness. In L.S. Cermak and F.I.M. Craik (Eds) Levels of processing in human memory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

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