How To Hack Your Brain To Remember More Stuff

Reckon you have a terrible memory? Read this.

Guess what? Cramming is not the most efficient way to memorise information – surprise, surprise.

Our brains are quite the complex organs. They’re constantly getting rid of memories they deem no longer useful, i.e. information we haven’t accessed regularly enough.

So in order to effectively study, we kind of need to hack our brains. And the best way to hack our brains is through spaced repetition.

What Is Spaced Repetition?

You know how Britney Spears lyrics are easier to memorise than the timeline of the collapse of the Roman Empire? It’s because when we memorise songs, we often use “spaced repetition” – as in, we continue to access information in our brains repetitively over an expanded period of time (every time we hear that particular song). Therefore, our brain stores the information permanently because we, ourselves, have decided that we need access to the lyrics.

And we can apply spaced repetition to our study methods. Here’s how.

How To Memorise Something Quickly 

Need to memorise some stuff for a test in two days? No problem. Don’t just cram – you won’t be able to absorb any information anyway. Instead, try this method of spaced repetition. According to Bright Side, the most effective way to memorise something quickly is to only use four repetitions.

The first repetition must occur immediately after learning the material. Repeat the information a second time after 15-20 minutes. Then follow with the third repetition 6-8 hours after the second. Finally, take a break and repeat the information a fourth time 24 hours after the third. You’ve shown your brain that this information is very important in the short term, and it will help store the information for you.

How to Memorise Something For A Long Time 

Are you taking one of those dreaded, content-heavy courses that have a final exam worth 80 per cent of your grade? Chill. There’s a technique for that too.

Bright Side has a time efficient way for you to memorise all the important content throughout the semester to make studying for that final a lot easier. Let’s say that you need to memorise info from your first two weeks of lectures. The first repetition needs to have occurred immediately after those lectures. Read through your lecture notes, go through the slides and write out some key points. Follow with a second repetition 30 minutes after. Leave the information for a day, and then start with your third repetition. Take a long break for 2-3 weeks before following with your fourth repetition. Finally, give your self 2-3 months (wait until the end of semester, when you begin studying for your final) and complete the fifth repetition.

Your brain will have decided that it must be very important for you to have continued retrieving this information over an extended period of time, and therefore will have stored all the information for you to access during the test.

While You’re At It, Chew Gum

Ah, my secret is finally out. This has been my exam hack since the glory days of being a newbie in the first-semester of my undergrad, and has not failed me since.

Study suggests that the repetitive chewing motion allows for more blood to flow to the head, where it can improve memory. Also, if you buy a new flavour of gum that you only chew when studying for a particular course, and then chew it again in the exam for that course — apparently the association between chewing that flavour of gum and the course information can be really helpful for kick-starting memory. I’ve also noticed that the chewing motion keeps me awake and focussed, instead of feeling bored and distracted.

There you go! Follow these tips and we promise you’ll save time and bad grades.

(Lead image: Community/NBC)