How Can Use of Mental Images, Concepts and Schemas Improve Our Memory

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How can the use of mental images, concepts and schemas to organise our thinking help us to improve our memory? Our memories allow us to learn from previous experience and they subsequently define who we are. The brain is a highly complex organ and each function can involve using several areas of the brain. The plasticity of the brain means we are able to learn and memorise new information. In this essay I will explore three methods of memory techniques, mental images, concepts and schemas and demonstrate how they are affective in helping organise out thoughts and improve our memory. Mental images are an alternative to thinking in words. If we make an effort to picture in our mind an image to use as a cue when recalling information it is likely to help fix it in our mind. Many mnemonics follow this technique and in the ‘method of loci’ it encourages the leaner to link mental images of the items they try to remember with a sequence of well know locations the learner is familiar with. This can be used in everyday tasks such as shopping lists and even revising for exams. The use of mental images are proven to benefit those when learning foreign languages. In the Starting with psychology text book, Spoors et al (2011) give an example of grasping basic vocabulary by using this technique when learning French, more specifically the word ‘Poubelle’ which translates to ‘bin’ in English. They suggest making a picture of a bin in the shape of a bell that has an unpleasant smell thus helping remember the translation using the image in your mind Raugh and Atkinson (1975) developed the key word technique when teaching two groups of participants to learn Spanish words. Only one of the groups were taught with the independent variable of the key word and mental image technique and scored much higher in the results when given a memory test than the others who had not used
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