How Can the Way We Organise Our Thinking by Using Mental Images, Concepts and Schemes Help Us Improve Our Memory?

In today’s society we are constantly reminded of the importance of our memory and the necessity to look after it.   Scientists are continually investigating how to improve our memory by researching that most complex part of our bodies – the brain.   The complex, interlinking parts of the brain is a network, demonstrates that a problem in one area of the brain can cause a problem to our memory.   Therefore, one of the crucial questions to scientists has always been; “How can we preserve our memory, prevent memory loss or improve it?”

Although the research is carried out and psychologists are investigating memory on an ongoing basis, there are already a number of mnemonics or memory strategies scientifically proven to improve our memory based on using mental images, schemes and concepts.

The question asks for the way in which thinking can be organised using mental images, concepts and schemes. The next sections will discuss each of these.

Mental Image

Although Semantic thought - our inner conversations and thinking in words- is the one that we use the most, Iconic thought- thinking in mental images and pictures is vital to help us with our memory.

A mental image can represent information by recalling distinctive items, colourful or unusual images that, in connection with a verbal or written text, will help us to fix the information in our memory. Adding an additional image will help the brain to store the information and recall it more effectively.

One of the experiments that support the significance in using mental images was developed in 1975 by Michael Raugh and Richard Atkinson, using the key word technique when learning a foreign language.   The foreign word in is given to the subject, who is required to imagine an English word that would sound similar, so that later that image would help them recall the foreign word from their memory.
(Raugh M, Richard Atkinson, (1975) cited in Spoors, 2010)

Many of us develop our own mnemonics,...