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  • Writer's picturePrem Sundaram

Understanding Memory Types and Tips to Support Memory

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Memory plays a crucial role in our daily lives, allowing us to learn, adapt, and store information. There are four general types of memories: sensory memory, short-term memory, working memory, and long-term memory[1].


Long-term memory can be further categorized as either implicit (unconscious) or explicit (conscious) [1]. In this blog post, we will explore these memory types and provide tips on how to support and improve memory using note-taking techniques and other memory improvement strategies.



Memory and Recall - Notes and Apps


Memory Types

  1. Sensory Memory: This type of memory holds sensory information for a very brief period, usually less than a second[1]. It acts as a buffer for stimuli received through the five senses and allows us to process and filter relevant information.

  2. Short-term Memory: Short-term memory stores information temporarily, usually for a few seconds to a minute[1]. It has a limited capacity and can hold around 7 items at a time.

  3. Working Memory: Working memory is a part of short-term memory that actively processes and manipulates information[1]. It is essential for tasks such as problem-solving, decision-making, and comprehension.

  4. Long-term Memory: Long-term memory stores information for extended periods, ranging from a few minutes to a lifetime[1]. It can be further divided into implicit and explicit memory[1].

    • Implicit Memory: This type of memory is unconscious and involves skills, habits, and conditioned responses[2].

    • Explicit Memory: Explicit memory is consciously recalled and can be episodic (related to personal experiences) or semantic (related to facts or general knowledge) [2].


Note Taking and Memory

Note-taking can be a helpful tool to support memory, but it's important to find a balance between note-taking and active recall. Some studies suggest that relying solely on note-taking may negatively impact memory, so it's important to use other memory improvement techniques, such as making associations, using visual cues, and engaging in active recall, in addition to note-taking. By incorporating these techniques, you can enhance your memory skills and better organize your thoughts, ideas, and information. Taking notes with handwriting is also a way to improve memory.


Tips to Support Memory

  1. Organize the information: Organizing information into meaningful categories or hierarchies can help improve memory retention[3].

  2. Make associations: Link new information to something you already know, creating connections that make it easier to recall[3].

  3. Use visual cues: Visualizing information or creating mental images can help improve memory[3].

  4. Create mnemonics: Mnemonic devices, such as acronyms or acrostics, can help you remember information more effectively[3].

  5. Write it down: Taking notes can help reinforce memory, but be cautious not to rely solely on note-taking, as it may cause your brain to intentionally forget the information[4].

  6. Say it out loud: Speaking information aloud can help solidify it in your memory[3].

  7. Engage in active recall: Actively trying to remember information without looking at your notes can help strengthen memory[3].

  8. Rehearse: Repeating information over time, using spaced repetition, can help improve long-term memory retention[3].

  9. Handwriting: Taking notes using handwriting, either on paper or using a note taking app like NoteDex, can help to reinforce memory and also creativity using the hand-mind connection.


Note-taking Techniques and Memory Improvement

While some studies suggest that note-taking may negatively impact memory[4], others argue that the act of taking notes helps form new pathways in the brain and encodes information better in long-term memory[5]. The key is to find a balance between note-taking and active recall, ensuring that you're not solely relying on your notes for memory retention.

Some effective note-taking techniques include:

  1. Using visual aids: Incorporate diagrams, charts, or mind maps to help visualize and organize information.

  2. Summarizing: Write brief summaries of the main points instead of transcribing everything verbatim.

  3. Highlighting: Use highlighting or underlining to emphasize essential information, but use it sparingly to avoid diluting its effectiveness.

  4. Creating your own shorthand: Develop a personal shorthand system to take notes more quickly and efficiently.

  5. Reviewing and revising: Regularly review and revise your notes to reinforce the information in your memory.


In conclusion, understanding the different types of memory and incorporating various memory improvement techniques, such as note-taking strategies and active recall, can help you retain and recall information more effectively. By practicing these techniques, you can enhance your memory skills and better organize your thoughts, ideas, and information.


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