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

Memory is the ability to store and recall experiences. It helps to define who we are, and to learn new skills. Our memory can be improved by organising our thoughts. This can involve using mental images, concepts and schemas. This essay will explore each of these processes, how they improve our memory and what evidence there is to support this.

A mental image is the process of picturing something that isn’t actually there, so if you think of a dog, a picture of a dog will appear in your imagination. Daydreaming is the calling up of an image in our minds. It can be thought of as thinking in pictures. This also happens as we read a book; the written information builds a picture in our head of what is being described. The mental image does not have to be exact, in fact the more distinctive, colorful and out of the ordinary, the easier it is to recall.
Mental images can help us to improve our memory because the image can provide another cue to back up the verbal or written information. The extra effort of creating a picture attached to the information you wish to recall, is thought to help fix it in your memory. It is less effort, more fun to create a mental image than learning by repetition.
One method of using mental images to improve memory is to create an image that is related to the word. This is especially useful in learning a new language. Spoors et al. (2010, p.37) state that if you take the French word ‘poubelle’, translated as bin in English, the first step is to find an English word or words that sound like the French word. In this case they suggest you could picture a bell shaped bin that is very smelly.
Raugh and Atkinson developed this key word technique, and conducted an experiment; Participants were asked to learn a list of Spanish words. Half of the participants were taught to use the key word technique. Those using...