Course Y163 - Starting with Psychology - TMA01

How can the way that we organise our thinking by using mental images, concepts and schemas help us improve our memory?


Memory is our ability to store, retain and recall information.

Throughout our life, our memory is very important.   It helps us with the simplest things, such as remembering where you have parked your car, what we need to buy from the supermarket and even in social situations, such as remembering someone's name.

Success or failure can be linked to memory and it's important that we utilise and organise it to the best of our abilities.

There are several methods that can be developed to help us organise our thinking and therefore improve our memory and we will look at examples of some of these, e.g. mental images, concepts and schemas.

Mental Images
Mental images, or sometimes referred to as 'visualising' commonly occur when people daydream or when reading a book.   It's a familiar and common place feature of our mental lives. You create a mental image of a character you read about which is never quite the same as the actor that then plays that character if it becomes dramatised.   Visual association is a mental image method by which you link a thing to be remembered to a way of remembering it. You can create associations by:
    • Placing things on top of each other.
    • Crashing things together.
    • Merging images together.
    • Wrapping them around each other.
    • Rotating them around each other or having them dancing together.
    • Linking them using the same colour, smell, shape, or feeling.
As an example, you might link the number 1 with a goldfish by visualizing a 1-shaped spear being used to spear it.

Spoors et al. (2007, p. 37) suggest that using mental images when you first start to learn a new language has proved very effective for helping people grasp basic vocabulary. This is the key word technique. For example take the French word ‘poubelle’...