December is a time of year when people make a lot of memories!

How does our brain make memories?

One way brains retain memories is by photographic images. Researchers often study “flashbulb memories.” A flashbulb memory is a detailed and vivid memory that is stored and retained for a lifetime. Usually, such memories are associated with important, memorable events.

What is Memory?

Memory is the ability to store, retain, and subsequently recall information. Memory can be broken down into three types:

  1. Short-Term Memory is the immediate, very brief – lasts a couple seconds – automatic perception of information. This information is obtained through our senses – vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
  2. Working Memory is the bridge from short-term memory to long-term memory. Working memory has limited capacity – in general you can retain five to nine pieces of information at a time.
  3. Long-Term memory stores information that your brain retains because it is important to you – lasts a lifetime.

ABE Case Study: Memory

Steve has been in Adult Basic Education for the last three years. He does not seem to remember what he learns from day to day. He works slowly, needs information repeated and has difficulty following directions. He has become increasingly frustrated.

This story illustrates very common struggles for ABE students. You can help your student by teaching some of the following memory enhancement strategies.

Memory Enhancement Strategies

  • Chunking:

Reduce the number of items students need to remember by grouping or chunking the information. That is why phone numbers and social security numbers are separated into chunks like 999-786-6425.

Look at the following chunks of letters: T WAN BAC BSC PRC IA
At first glance, they look difficult to memorize.

With simple chunking, look at them now: TWA NBA CBS CPR CIA

  • Rhyming and Music:

Uses a different part of the brain and has been shown to help with recall.

Do you remember the year Columbus sailed for America? Remember this rhyme?
“In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

Email PANDA at [email protected] to request a copy of memory instructional strategies.