Students’ burn night candles, so to speak, to review deep into the night and to cram before an exam scheduled the following day. This kind of thing seems to work for a great number thus becomes a common practice all throughout their student days. Exemplary output based on this kind of habit used to be ascribed to superior IQ and retentive memory. On the contrary, that is short term memory (STM) at work!
Will it still be questioned why many people work towards the improvement of their short term memory?
The human brain memory system has three memory functions, namely: sensory memory, short term memory and long term memory (LTM) or permanent memory. Information from the sensory memory such as sounds (acoustic) and images (iconic) move towards becoming a short term memory by a process called selective selection. Meanwhile, a working memory remains an active memory until it is put to use (Anderson, 2000); a typical example is cramming before a test. Data stored in STM, however, have a short life span. The good thing is, information in STM can become LTM through repeated use of them. The short memory span of information found in STM is attributable to its finite capacity leads to not remembering them or memory loss. In order for new information to get inside STM, space must be created for it and that means losing the old ones.
So, if the STM has a finite capacity, how can it be improved?
This happens primarily through the movement of information from STM to LTM. This is based not on time but on the ability of the brain to organize intricate information into meaningful and relevant patterns as in chunking. Chunking is a way that entails processing of data to move information from STM to LTM, such as clumping, shortening, linking, and simplifying data. With increased knowledge about memory in general, it has been found out that this could be facilitated thus enhancing short term memory development. This is done through the use of brain enhancing supplements, eating the right foods and mental exercises using brain games. Using mnemonic, a memory enhancing technique can effectively assist in the transport of data from STM to LTM. Mnemonic is a memory-enhancing tool that requires coding of information stored in STM for fast recall.
So, to remember more, use these techniques so that cramming for an exam will just need to be forgotten.