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Updated 05 July 2013

Remembering in pictures

Imagery is a fun way to creatively stimulate memory. For this you need to imagine pictures of the facts that you would like to remember.

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Imagery is a fun way to creatively stimulate memory. For this you need to imagine pictures of the facts that you would like to remember.

Let us use this essay on memory tips as an example. Including imagery, eight strategies for improving memory are mentioned here: environment, phraseology, external memory aids, chunking and organisation, associations, repetition, and the PQRST technique.

Firstly, try to think of an unusual image for each strategy, something that stands out and that will be easily remembered… If you struggle, then consult a dictionary or thesaurus for ideas on each word.

Environment makes me think of a tree; phraseology of a poem; external memory aids of a calendar; chunking and organisation of a bundle of wood tied together; associations of Cathode Cathy; repetition of a muscle man doing push ups; PQRST of a typewriter; and imagery of a framed picture.

Now, put all of this together in one picture; Cathode Cathy sitting under a tree reading a poem, next to her is a muscle man doing push ups with a bundle of wood and a typewriter on his back, and nailed into the tree trunk is a calendar and below it a framed picture (possibly of Cathode Cathy).

Notice that there are only three main images to remember; the tree, Cathode Cathy, and push up man. Each of these images has more detail in them and the detail becomes apparent as you recollect the main images.

Another example of the use of imagery is remembering travel directions. Usually we listen to instructions and try to remember it with repetition. Next time you listen to instructions, try to visualise the route as you listen. You will be far more effective during the recollection phase.

Written by Dr Frans Hugo, MBChB, M.Med Psychiatry and Dr L. Van Wyk, MBChB, M. Med (Psych) from the Panorama Memory Clinic.

 
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