Brain Experts’ 6 Best Memory Tricks
Easy tactics to help you remember better
By Paula Spencer, Caring.com senior editor
Wish your memory were a little sharper? Want to remember names and numbers as well as you could a few years back? Brain experts swear by the following six simple techniques.
1. Never forget a name: Look, snap, connect.
There are three steps to psychiatrist Gary Small’s favorite tactic, which he calls "Look, Snap, Connect." The first is to tell yourself that remembering a particular name is a priority, says Small, who’s also the director of the UCLA Center on Aging and author of several books about memory and cognition, including The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head.
Step 1: Really focus (LOOK) on a name and face you want to remember.
Step 2: Create a visual snapshot (SNAP) of the name and face. Note a key visual characteristic: Big ears? Silver hair? Blue eyes? Dimples? Also create an image about the name: A cat stands for Mrs. Katz, a dollar bill for someone named Bill. "I sometimes see a famous person with a similar name," Small says. "So Angela Shirnberger becomes Angelina Jolie wearing shined shoes and eating a burger."
Step 3: Join the two images (CONNECT): Maybe blue-eyed Bill is a blue dollar bill, or Angela Shirnberger is a silver-haired Angelina Jolie with shiny shoes eating a hamburger. The simple act of thinking up these images helps cement them in your memory — and ups the odds that the new name will materialize for you the next time you encounter the person.
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