(Telegraph) This simple memory trick will stop you ever forgetting your keys or umbrella again
If you have been caught out by summer downpours this then scientists have the answer for always remembering to take an umbrella.
Thinking about an object in the area where it needs to be remembered, and assigning an action, helps the mind form a concrete memory, which will pop up just when you need it.
For example, imagining that your umbrella tip is jammed into your front door lock so that it is impossible to open or close, will allow the memory to spring back into your mind as you go to leave the house and lock the door.
Likewise, thinking of your dog blocking an exit from work could remind you to pick up pet food on the way home, while imagining you keys jangling in your coat pocket would help avoid being locked out.
The natural memory strategy is called ‘unitisation’ and researchers believe it could help people with dementia to function despite suffering recurrent amnesia.
To find out what is the best way to plant memories, scientists at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto carried out memory training on 80 people aged between 61 and 88. They found that assigning an action to a task prevented participants forgetting far more often than other methods.
“Previous research has shown that imagining two objects fusing into one will help people work around these memory deficits; but our work demonstrated that understanding the relationship between the two items is also important,” says Dr Jennifer Ryan, who is also a psychology and psychiatry professor at the University of Toronto.
“We know that cognitive function is impaired during aging and this strategy could be one workaround for minor memory problems, depending on what you need to achieve.
“We are trying to understand what’s important to unitization and what people need to learn in order to benefit. There is no single strategy that will fix your memory, but one method may be more be suitable than another.”
Previous studies have shown that memory can be boosted by exercising, breathing deeply, tackling crosswords and eating healthily.
Writing down an important task or object to remember, and then saying out loud also boosts the chance of it happening by 50 per cent. Some research has even suggested singing the memory can help, as it stores it in a different part of the brain.
Concentrating while trying to create a memory, rather than vaguely thinking about it during multitasking can also help to imprint it in neurons. Notice boards in the home can also act as reinforcement aids as you see the memorable wish every time you walk past, helping to write it into the memory.