Mnemonics

Mnemonics, which is a Greek word and means the art of memory, is a group of unique strategies that aim information retrieval in the human mind (such as names, numbers, different lists and so on). Lots of mnemonic techniques have been developed today, which are used by people from different fields but all of them have the same purpose: to memorize information. Taking into consideration that everybody has the problem of remembering something I will introduce here some methods of mnemonics, which you can use in different situations.

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  • Introduction

  • Mnemonics, which is a Greek word and means the art of memory, is a group of unique strategies that aim information retrieval in the human mind (such as names, numbers, different lists and so on). According to some sources, mnemonics comes from the 6-5th centuries BC, and either Simonides of Ceos or Pythagoras was credited for these techniques. Later, in the 18th century, scientist Leon of Modena tried to improve the old methods, and he succeeded. At the end of the 19th century, another scientist named Naum Snoshch made a serious investment in this sphere publishing his book “Mnemotechniques,” where he spoke about the mnemonics and memory and introduced practical methods of memorizing information. He also mentioned some important facts, including the four rules of associating ideas (generality, contrast, sequence, synchronicity), that provide the creation of connections which are based on the comparison. He also mentioned that to create connections mnemonics divides information into parts. Lots of mnemonic techniques have been developed today, which are used by people from different fields but all of them have the same purpose: to memorize information. Taking into consideration that everybody has the problem of remembering something we will introduce here some methods of mnemonics, which you can use in different situations. At first, we should mention that in mnemonics as usually two important factors are used for memorizing. These are imagination and associations.
  • How to remember formulas

  • We often have difficulties memorizing formulas because we cannot visualize them, but we can store in the long-term memory if we practice them (for example we can regularly solve some tasks which will include those formulas) or we can memorize them using some mnemo-techniques designed for remembering formulas. Through that method using our imagination we will visualize pictures that will be similar to the letters, signs, and numbers included in that formula and after that we will link each other the associations about letters, symbols, and numbers according to the structure of the formula. Note that often the same letters have different meanings in different pictures, that’s why we should make a corresponding list of visions for every object. To more clearly understand what we are talking about we will give you a list of most famous signs which are used similarly almost everywhere. Equality sign – railways Multiplication – open scissors Addition – cross Division – black round glasses Subtraction – match, carrot, tube, pencil e.g. Squared symbol - square Opening parenthesis - cup handle from the left side Closing parenthesis - cup handle from the right and so on…. It is important that the pictures clearly show what hidden meaning they have, for example, cross immediately reminds us addition sign or we immediately associate the open scissors with multiplication sign, and what refers to the division sign we have lots of options to choose. We can also associate letters and numbers with something according to their shape, and in the case of letters, we can also select an association connected with the meaning of that letter. Let’s take an example. Here is the formula of kinetic energy: E=mV2/2 Let’s imagine that the letter E (energy) is a rocket, letter m (mass) is iron fence, and V (velocity) is 2 other rockets taking off from the same location and are moving to different directions, but they differ from the E-rocket in color (the first rocket can be white and the others black). They are in a square box which the swan holds on its head (this represents number 2). Now we have created the mental images and should arrange them in one construction. We can imagine them for example in a green field where they are arranged in the following order: at first stands white rocket which releases fire (so that we can associate it with energy) then the railways come followed by the iron fence, and finally 2 black rockets appear in a square box on swans head. When you have already created the whole scene, you should regularly concentrate on it, to fix it in your mind. If we do all this correctly then when reading or listening kinetic energy formula, we will at once remember this scene by which we have encoded the letters, signs, and numbers of the formula.’
  • How to remember dates

  • While we had some difficulties with formulas, it’s easier to work with dates. We should just visualize the event and then put the date of that event into the scene in a way that some of the characters of that scene represent the date. Let’s take an example to understand this. Let’s take the date of telephone invention, 1860. Here we can omit the number 1 to make the process easier because anyway it’s easy to remember. Now let’s imagine that the inventor (Antonio Meucci) who was at that time an old man with a white mustache and strange face, was sitting with widely open eyes (which have the shape of number 8). He was hanging on the phone listening to the speaker (we can associate the telephone with the number 6 and its end with the number 0 (so the phone itself represents the number 60). Along with this don’t forget to make the scene as clear as possible and use it regularly to fix it in your memory.
  • How to remember foreign words

  • Visualization and associations also help to speed the process of memorizing words and make it more reliable. The main idea is to create a mental image corresponding to the meaning of that word, then depict it in your mind and try to visualize a situation with that object. It is important that the events happen in a place which is familiar to you as in that case you will associate the image with something which already exists in your memory, and it will improve the process of remembering. For example let’s take the Armenian word “charagayt,” which means beam. If you want to memorize the meaning of this word at first, you should visualize a beam, then imagine a situation where that “beam” plays an important role, for example, imagine the beams of the sun warming up the swimming pool. The last step is to create a connection between the word and its meaning. Now when you pronounce the word at once, you imagine the scene of the beams that you have formed during the previous stage through which you make a connection between the word and its meaning. You don’t even have to translate it into your mother tongue, because the image already helps you to remember the meaning. In order not to forget that word you should use it regularly to create new associations and fix it in your memory, otherwise if you don’t use the word you will probably forget it no matter how strong the first associations were.
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